Autumn is the season aligned with transformation and the practice of yoga encourages us to explore our own true or Buddha nature one of lightness and love, one of flow and fluidity with all that it is changing constantly around and in us. Yoga helps us to see we are nature not separate. In the five element theory from Chinese Traditional Medicine the season of Autumn is associated with element of metal and fits in with the idea of transformation. It is this system that much of yin yoga is infused with. Yet the element from the yoga system is water and the element of water represents the idea of moving and flowing with the change of seasons.
Slowing down going with the flow
The element in yoga is water and the Yoga system of seeing the world elementally differs from the Chinese perspective. This article is about living from with the yoga element water in mind for the season of autumn. The pancha mahabhuta, the 5 Great Elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether – of Hinduism and Ayurveda. These five elements are believed to make up all of creation, including the human body, and which upon death dissolves back into the five elements of nature, thus, balancing the cycle of nature set in flow by the creative force of the universe.
The slow food movement began as a grassroots organisation in Italy in 1986. It was founded by Carlo Petrini and his idea was to slow our life down to truly appreciate traditional ways of growing, producing, preparing and enjoying our food. If you like a push back against the fast food revolution that disconnects us to the land, to nature, and to the hundreds, if not thousands of farmers, workers, truck driver and storekeepers, whose hard work provides us with such a dazzling array of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and for those who consume them dairy, eggs and meat.
Fruit and vegetable contain plenty of water swimming with vitamins and minerals so could really transform YOU so why not really enjoy each and every mouthful. Autumn is the time for juicy pears and crunchy apples so delicious either fresh or in an autumn crumble or stewed onto of your wholegrain breakfast.
Eat with MIndfulness
Look at your food – go on gaze at it with focused attention. They say we eat first with the eyes but how many times are you multitasking while eating.
Feel your food with your fingers. What does it feel like? Enjoy the shapes, colours, textures when you cut and prepare your fruit and vegetables.
Smell your food too and notice what effects doing so has on your body.
Allow yourself the pleasure of being totally entranced by your food, for food is the most beautiful when yous top to look at it in detail.
The slow stay well hydrated over autumn with lots of yummy warn drinks. Warm water in the morning with some lemons squeezed into is a great to start the day. Also warm water between meals rather than snacks can really keep the digestion fired up and the weight off.
Draw on the qualities of water by imagining yourself floating on a still lake. In a comfortable mediation position, let your breath become soft, let it flow naturally. Allow your body to receive the flow of breath in and out of your body, without you consciously trying to change it. Notice the moments of stillness between your inhale and exhale. Feel into the natural rhythm and cycle of your breathing. Then imagine your body floating on a still lake high in a mountain with beautiful clear blue sky above you. Continue to allow the breath to be free and easy. Float. Float around the lake enjoying the serenity and sensation of simply letting go and being supported by the water.
Sithali Pranayama is a cooling breath practice. To practice either curl your tongue or if liek me this is not something you can do then purse your lips to create a funnel for the breath to come in. Slowly and evenly draw the breath into your body through the mouth. Then close your mouth and retain the breath*. The breath has been cooled by the moisture in your mouth. Now release it slowly out your nostrils.
* If you are pregnant, suffer high/low blood pressure or are prone to feeling light-headed, do not retain the breath.
As winter approaches and the water element arises get outside and experience the water element in nature:
- Swim in the ocean – Cleanse the heart, body and spirit with a brisk swim in the salty ocean. Waves buff the body, salt is absorbed into the skin and the immensity of the ocean can hold and purify all emotions. Try floating in a salt tank or at home throw a cup of Epsom salts into your bath add your favourite essential oil.
- Swim in a fresh water lake or stream – Embody stillness by swim in a lake. Or relax deeply in a slow-moving stream. Both lakes and streams are usually found within forest and being amongst nature and trees this is a tranquil, serene experience and can help calm and clarify the mind and spirit. If it is too cold have a shower and let the water flow like a waterfall over your body.
- Dance in the rain – Many ancient cultures have celebrated rain through dance and ritual. Rain is a time of deep appreciation, it expresses abundance as the water cleanses, purifies and provides sustenance for all sentient being son earth. Celebrate the fecundity of the earth and the beauty of rain.
- Drink clean water – Rejoice in the clean water we have access to. Invest in a water filter and make a conscious effort to drink more fluid throughout your day.
- Visit local water ecosystems – Walking alone by a river, lake or along a deserted ocean beach fills the lungs with fresh air and allows us time to recuperate and restore peace.
Live in harmony with nature balance the season of transformation and go with the flow of the water element.