Autumn is that time when the leaves change colour, fall to the ground, begin to decompose. This creates new fertile soil and provides the growth potential for the following spring. In autumn, we slowly shift from the outer, expanding energy of summer to the inner, contracting cold energy to prepare for winter. In this blog post, we show the inward turning effect of this season, followed by a yin yoga sequence to let go and relax.
Autumn - the beginning of Yin Time
In Yin Yoga, we use the knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help us gain a better understanding of our bodies and ourselves.
TCM views the body as a changing microcosm that reflects the larger macrocosm of the world around us. During the change of seasons, we can experience this relationship in a unique way.
Energy/Chi flows through channels/meridians in your body.
In TCM, each organ in the body is paired with another and complements yin and yang. Each organ pairing is associated with the seasons, and autumn is associated with the lungs (yin) and large intestine (yang) in the body. In addition, the energy channels that run through the body called meridians connect the organs.
Let go and grow
The lungs control our breathing and help regulate the flow of water in our bodies. The large intestine takes care of the elimination of waste in our body.
Autumn is an excellent time to let go of things that no longer serve us and make room for new experiences from which we can consequently learn and grow.
Strengthen the immune system
Our physical and emotional bodies reflect the energetic changes that occur during seasonal change. Thus, we must adjust our daily habits to support these transitions.
Supporting the energies of the autumn season is vital to strengthen the health of the organ system of the lungs and colon, making our immune system resilient.
Body, mind and emotions
In Yin Yoga, we stay in specific postures for about 3-5 minutes and engage the deep layers of tissue, similar to acupuncture. In this way, we stimulate the different meridians and their relationship to the corresponding organs.
In addition, during the long-held poses, we cultivate the strength, flexibility, and resilience of the mind, which we need to let go of old emotions.
In this way, Yin Yoga is excellent support for the transition into the new season.
In the following sequence, we will focus on poses targeting those meridians connected to the lungs and the large intestine. This practice will strengthen these organs so that they are resilient for the coming winter.
Come into an upright sitting position. Place your hands relaxed on your thighs, palms facing downwards to feel the contact and ground yourself. If you wish, you can bring your thumb and index finger together in Gyan Mudra. Allow yourself a few calm and gentle breaths through the nose. Ask yourself, "How do I feel right now in this moment?" and "What feeling do I want to develop with this practice?
Anuloma Viloma breathing exercise
The left hand rests comfortably on your left thigh or knee. Bring the right hand into Vishnu Mudra (bend the index and middle fingers into the palm). Exhale, gently close your right nostril with your right thumbs and inhale through the left nostril, counting to 4. Then close both nostrils by closing your left nostril with your ring finger and holding the breath, counting to 8. Release your thumb from the right nostril and exhale through the right nostril, counting to 8. Inhale through the right nostril, counting to 4. Hold the breath to 8 and finally exhale through the left nostril, counting to 8 to complete one round. Repeat this process for 4 more rounds or more.
This breathing exercise helps restore inner balance, dissolve blockages and allow energy to flow freely throughout the body.
Eagle Arms open your shoulder area and stimulate the lung and large intestine meridians. Bring the right elbow under the left elbow. Try to bring the hands so close together that the palms are touching. If you cannot get the palms together, bring the backs of the hands or the back of the right hand to the top of the left arm. Then raise the arms so that the upper left arm is level with the shoulders while the shoulders are relaxed. Stay here for 3 minutes and then switch sides.
Thread the Needle
From the quadruped position, bring your right arm wide between your left arm and thigh. Move your left hand forward, stretch it well and rest your right shoulder on the floor. Now bring your buttocks back towards your heels. You can get your knees a little further apart if it feels good. You can now relax your stretched left arm or place it backwards on your back. Breathe calmly and gently and stay here for 3-5 minutes. Then switch to the other side. Afterwards, move to the prone position to feel.
For Sphinx Pose, come into a relaxed prone position and support yourself on your forearms. The palms rest gently on the support, and make sure your elbows are under your shoulders. If the sensation in your back is too intense, move your elbows further forward and lower your chest closer to the floor. Relax the buttocks, legs and feet. Remain in this position for 3-5 minutes.
Complete your practice with Shavasana. Come into the supine position. The legs are slightly more than hip-width apart, and the arms relax at the sides of the body. Stay as long as you like, 5-10 minutes.
We hope we can make your autumn a little more colourful with this releasing Yin Yoga practice. Do write and let us know how you liked it.
All the best and Namaste,
Sabine and Philipp
About the author
Sabine Winkler is an internationally active yoga teacher, coach and trainer. She lives and teaches in Vienna and leads workshops, teacher training and retreats worldwide. During her many years of travels, she has completed over 3000 hours of training in the Sivananda Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Iyengar styles. In addition, Sabine is an assistant teacher of the renowned... more