With fall’s arrival, it’s an excellent opportunity to make some lifestyle adjustments that honor the changes occurring out in Nature. A few examples include: going to bed a little bit earlier each night, slowing down and doing less activity in general, wearing warmer clothes and scarves, saying YES to creative projects and hot baths, strengthening your digestive fire with warm soupy foods, and detoxifying your organs with a simple whole food diet and herbs before the onset of winter. Each will hopefully help you connect to Nature’s rhythm and bring nourishment to you and your family.
Living in harmony with nature is what Seasonal Vinyasa Yoga is all about. This means you learn to see and embrace the changing world around you in all its seasons, ages, and states, including suffering and destruction, as well as joy and renewal. Since we are part of Nature, we have the opportunity to be graceful and let the seasons flow. We can do this without clinging or grasping, despite our preferences for certain seasons, those times of year that resonate with our core elements and make us feel more like ourselves. And yet, developing equanimity and contentment with all seasons—regardless of dosha, or where you live—is essential to well-being.
Now that a new season has started, consider taking some time to reflect on these questions to help you connect with where you live, as well as your state of mind, physical health, goals, and aspiration for the fall.
Consider these questions:
· What changes are going on outside in Nature?
· How does this season make me feel?
· What are the challenges I face?
· What brings me joy during this season?
· What diet or lifestyle routines do I want to change?
· Am I getting the right amount of sleep?
· What yoga or exercise routine feels the best to me?
After reflecting upon them, are there places in your life where you are interested in making some changes? Can you sense what part of your life is more inclined to go out of balance (diet, work, spending habits, travel) during particular seasons? Are you willing to change a behavior or habit for two weeks, one month, or the entire season? While this may seem like a short window, it is enough time to witness considerable changes in your personality, bodily functions, energy levels, sleep patterns, and general well-being. Here’s how to get started:
Stepping Into The Fire – Tapas
Select one aspect of your life you wish to change. For example, I want to clean up my diet, so I am going to stop eating all foods made with processed sugar for the entire month of October.
As you experiment with ridding yourself of your vice or habit in the short term, you will learn that certain habits or cravings have stronger karmas (meaning, in this case, mental or emotional history) than others and may require more than a two-week cessation to break free from the bondage accrued over many years (or lifetimes). The important thing to be aware of is how much tapas (fire) is needed to bolster your willpower and break away from each vice. People are always surprised by the amount of effort and discipline it takes to break from their habituated way of being. This realization is another important concept in yoga. To grow and transform (indeed to become enlightened), we must strive to live consciously instead of unconsciously.
Observation – Svadhyaya
And like any good scientist, I highly recommend keeping a journal and taking notes during your experiment to log the changes you observe in your mind, body, and spirit on a daily basis. Your insights and reflections may continue to be valuable long after the experiment is over. Svadhyaya and self-reflection help cultivate a pool of experience to help you grow more consciousness in your blind spots. Everyone learns at different speeds, so it’s essential that you experiment with how much to study or change at one time and honor the lessons as they come. If you take on too many studies at once, experiences stay superficial. Too much information without practice can create mental constipation. Instead, think about the “less is more” maxim and strive for deep connections in your relationships to teachers and texts. Go slow and enjoy every moment in your practice, digesting and savoring the insights that feed you along your spiritual path, as you evolve from unconscious towards more conscious living.
Arrival – Isvara Pranidhana
With tapas sparking the enthusiasm and curiosity for the adventure and svadhyaya lighting the way through self-study and reflection, we use isvara pranidhana (the omniscient self, God within) to teach us to be the lord of our own actions (remembering that actions can mirror intent better than words), to investigate the meaning of faith (from personal experience and scriptures), as well as to remind us to offer our unique gifts and talents to the world in which we live. Through our practice of isvara pranidhana, we learn to humble ourselves and soften the ego in order to receive the counsel, sustenance, and unconditional love that comes from joining with nature, the divine, God, or whatever you choose to call it. You’ve arrived at the end of your experiment. Can you let your heart rest now, appreciating your willingness to grow, remembering your wholeness, and knowing you are divine?
This post is inspired by chapters in Melina Meza’s Art of Sequencing – Volume Two – Seasonal Vinyasa book.
[Editor's note: This is a guest post by Melina Meza, BS Nutrition, 500-RYT].
Melina has been exploring the art and science of yoga and nutrition for over 18 years. She combines her knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Ayurveda, whole foods nutrition, and healthy lifestyle promotion into a unique style called Seasonal Vinyasa. Her devotion to yoga and eating well, to teaching and nutritional counseling, and to traveling and experiencing different cultures combine to create a colorful and enlightening perspective from which to share that which she loves about yoga in its entirety. Meza is the author of the Art of Sequencing books and Yoga for the Seasons – Fall Vinyasa DVD. www.melinameza.com
What is Seasonal Vinyasa – Yoga for the Seasons?
Seasonal Vinyasa describes an artistic style of sequencing asana and seasonal daily rituals. The main inspiration for Seasonal Vinyasa comes from the Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda traditions, two complementary sciences that promote health in body, mind, and spirit. While inspiring the self-knowledge to adjust day-to-day choices and align with what is occurring outside in nature, Seasonal Vinyasa emphasizes the teachings of the yogis—that there is no separation between humans and nature.
Photo credit: Urban Yoga by Marcus V. Photography on Flickr