Fall is a time to ground down, look inward, and hit the reset button after the craziness of summer. As the weather cools down and the leaves transition to bright hues of yellow and orange, I’ve been craving hearty veggie stews, lovingkindness meditations, and yoga moves that help me slow down and connect with myself in a deeper, more meaningful way.
Just as you honor the temperature drop by pulling on your comfiest sweaters, it's important to make sure your yoga practice reflects the change in season as well. Here are my four favorite warming yoga poses to help you embrace fall:
1. Easy pose with side body stretching.
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position with your palms resting on your knees. Root your sitz bones down—let them be heavy. Hug your low belly up and in so your lower back is supported. Relax your shoulders. Lengthen through both sides of your neck so you’re sitting up tall. Once you get set, close your eyes and welcome your attention toward the natural wavelike rhythm of your breath. Feel it flow in and out for one to two minutes.
Add some movement: Inhale both hands high to the sky. Exhale side body stretch. Lean to the right, and reach your left arm overhead. Repeat on the other side. Continue to windmill your arms back and forth for one to two minutes as you breathe in and out.
Notice the qualities of your breath as you flow through this. Your breath may be shallow or deep, warm or cool, easy or tight. Notice as best you can; don’t judge it as good or bad. This is a simple way to practice awareness and turn your attention inward.
2. Crescent lunge.
Stand with your feet are hip-width apart, parallel. Exhale and step your right foot back, and on your breath in, reach your arms up high overhead. Root your feet firmly. Drive your back heel toward your mat so your back leg is long. Your front knee is stacked over your ankle with your entire core hugging in. Your shoulders are relaxed away from your ears. Hold steady and strong for 10 breaths on each side as you focus on feeling your feet grounding you down.
Exhale, lean, and fly forward. Reach your belly toward your thighs as your arms stretch out behind you. Inhale and lift up tall with your shoulders over your hips. Repeat this three times on each side. As you layer on movement, notice if your body wants to stay a little longer in any position. If you’re craving staying somewhere for another breath or two, let it happen. This is your time to slow down and give your body what it needs.
3. Warrior 2.
From crescent lunge, spiral your back foot down so the outer edge of your foot is pressing firmly into the ground. The front heel of your foot is in line with the back arch of your foot, and your front knee is over your ankle. Extend your arms long at shoulder height. Gaze over your fingertips. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths each side. Every time you breathe in, get longer through the sides of your waist. As you breathe out, focus on rooting your feet (especially the outer edges of your feet) more firmly to the floor. The more you press through the outer edges of your feet, the more you’re going to feel your glutes turning on.
To add some movement, inhale, reach both arms up high to the sky, and straighten your front leg. Exhale settle back into your warrior 2 position. Repeat this five times on each side.
4. Eagle pose.
From mountain pose, bend your knees and reach your butt back like you’re sitting into a chair. Lift your right foot and cross your right thigh over your left. Then work toward hooking the top of your right foot behind your lower left calf. At the same time, stretch your arms out wide and pull your shoulder blades away from each other so you have space in your mid back. Cross your right arm under your left arm so the back of your hands touch. If you can slide your palms to touch too, go for it. Once you feel steady, lift your elbows to shoulder height and allow your shoulder blades to draw down your back, lengthening your spine. Stay here for 30 seconds.
As you hold this tough posture, can you get curious about what’s showing up for you? Notice the sensations in your body, your thoughts, and your inner dialogue. Whatever you notice, can you allow yourself to feel all of it? And if it starts to feel like too much, just go back to your feet. Press firmly into the foot that’s holding you up and see if that helps you find some calm in the chaos.
Want more tips on how to transition to fall using yoga? These are the two yoga poses that make embracing change a lot easier.
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