Moving from Summer to Autumn, from being overstretched to slowing down
With the children going back to school or university soon and Summer coming to an end, the harvest is being gathered in, the energy is shifting around us and we’re slowly moving towards Autumn and a quieter time of year.
During the Summer, the energy is very Yang – active, energetic, fast moving and expanding outwards. It’s a busy time and can feel quite exhausting, but now we’re moving from Lammas towards the Autumn Equinox, there’s more Yin energy around and things are starting to slow down and becoming more balanced again before the Earth moves into a Yin cycle and Winter, the darkest time of the year.
You’ve probably noticed the signs of harvest all around you – the barley is ripe, the combine harvesters are rolling and there are blackberries and hazel nuts in the hedgerows. The swallows are lining up ready for their long migration south, the nights are slowly drawing in and the squirrels are busily creating stores of nuts.
We often lament the passing of Summer, but Autumn is a time of rich possibilities. Harvest is the time when you reap what you sow. It’s the time to celebrate your abundance, develop gratitude and acknowledge your own personal harvest.
Autumn and Winter are perhaps not the best times for action, but they are perfect for planning, dreaming and incubating ideas ready for planting out next Spring. In the same way that trees shed their leaves in Autumn to conserve their energy over Winter, we should share the wisdom of the tree by letting go of what no longer serves us, giving us space to nurture and nourish what is really important to us.
Now is a good time to pause after the frantic activity of Summer to recuperate, regenerate and replenish our energy.
Just stop for a minute and take a look back over your year so far.
- What have you achieved?
- What are you most grateful for?
- What was difficult and needs to change? How will you make that happen?
- What do you want to let go of? What do you want to nurture?
Sacrifice to the Goddess as reaper, those things, behaviours or attitudes that will hinder the completion of your own personal harvest: weed out, pinch back or thin out anything not essential that might impede its fruition. Look at the priorities in your life and review them to see if they are consistent with what you say you want or need. Initiate any necessary changes.
– Ruth Barrett from Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries.
And now look forwards towards the a more dormant Yin time of the year
How are you going to make things easier and simpler for yourself as the energy shifts and the growth period ends?
In terms of the elements and focuses of Yoga as we move from the fire element at Lammas to the water element at the Autumn Equinox, it’s time for your practice to become softer with simple fluid sequences combined with more Yin or Restorative Yoga where you can draw in, come back to your centre and feel more grounded.
The fire element is hot, sharp, bright and spreading. It’s expressed as you being affectionate and compassionate, naturally joyful, generous and enthusiastic, and brings intelligence and an ability to look further than the surface and reach a deeper understanding. However, when fire burns too fiercely, we become intense and overwhelming to others and feel hot and bothered. Conversely, when fire is depleted, we feel cold, flat, depressed and unmotivated.
With the focus moving to the free-flowing water element as we move towards the Autumn Equinox, the destructive nature of the fire element is counteracted and we start to connect more easily to others, feel content, express ourselves calmly and allow things to be ‘like water off a duck’s back’. The water element affects our hips, so if our connection to the water element is weak, our hips can also become weak or tight.
By combining the water and earth elements at this time of year we can keep things flowing inside us while remaining grounded and focused with a sense of calm and ‘enoughness’.
Moving slowly and breathing deeply during your Yoga practice will help you feel more grounded, contented and connected. Hara breathing channels the Earth’s energy up into yourself on each inhale and stores it in your belly (hara) on each exhale. Just imagine that your legs are attracting the energy up from the ground and refilling your depleted reserves after the active, exhausting Summer period.
“It’s still today’s best-kept secret: Your body’s centre, your belly, is home to your core life force. It’s the site of your soul power, the source of your passion and creativity, your intuition and sense of purpose, your courage and confidence.”
– Lisa Sarasohn from The Woman’s Belly Book
This is the time of the year to stop doing and start being – you are a human being after all!
“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
– Lin Yutang
Some easy ways to slow down, do less and ‘just be’ more are:
- Take time out to enjoy a massage session
- Eat mindfully and sit afterwards
- Switch off all technology for one day a week if you can
- Make your home a retreat – practice a little Yoga, eat a nutritious meal and go for a long walk in beautiful countryside
- Say ‘no’ and create a little space in your schedule.
And most importantly, enjoy!