Around this time of year autumn, the leaves turn into beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. At this time as well, our body begins to feel the first signs of winter approaching. Daylight shortens and the cold intensifies. We begin to snuggle into warm clothes and nourish our bodies with hot drinks and soups.
In the same way our yoga practice can adapt and reflect our need to go inwards to rest and rejuvenate body and mind. If we kept at the same pace as we had been during the summer, we tend to find that we soon burn out.
Savasana (Corpse pose)
Turn off all mobile phones and distractions. Put some relaxing tunes on and light a candle. Make sure the room is warm. Roll out your mat and come into Savasana. Lying on your back, legs and arms spread out. Palms facing up. Let your eyes close and your breath deepens. Feel the wave of your inbreath and your outbreath. Let your inhale expand your belly and chest whilst your outbreath lengthens and release the air. Stay here for 5 breaths.
Child Pose (Balasana)
Move into a kneeling position big toes together and knees apart. Stretch your arms forward along the mat. Let your fingers and arms stretch your back and spine forwards. Drop your forehead onto the mat. Take a deep breath. Release any tension in the neck and shoulders. Drop the weight of your hips down. Stay here for 3-5 breaths.
Cat – Cow (Marjaryasana – Bitilasana)
Place yourself on all fours, knees in line with hips and hands with shoulders.
Cat pose: breathing in tailbone lifts up to the sky while the mid back dips down and you arch to look up. Open the chest. Lengthen the neck.
Cow pose: breathing out, tailbone journeys down to the mat, the naval lifts up rounding the back. The head and neck curl under. Forehead into the belly. Continue moving through both poses for 3-5 breaths.
Child pose variation (Balasana)
Come down into child pose but this time open your knees further apart. As wide as you can comfortably. Then lean forward and bending your elbows out to the sides bring one hand on top of the other to rest. Invite your forehead to drop down onto the mat. Breathe deep into the hips as you feel them open. Stay here for 3-5 breaths.
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Lie on your belly. Place your arms out in front of you and bend the elbows in propping yourself up onto your forearms. Squeeze your bum as you press your tailbone down. Your legs are straight and all the muscles of the legs are active. Lengthen into the spine as you elongate your neck and gaze up. Breathe deeply in and on the outbreath let your head slowly turn to the right. On the next breath in come back to center and then breathing out repeat to the left. Continue for another 2 breaths.
Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Keep the spine long. Bend your right knee and place it underneath your left knee. It’s as if both knees are in line pointing forward like an arrow. You want to make sure that your buttocks is touching the floor. Otherwise use a yoga block underneath for support. Lengthen the spine and neck, gaze forwards. Then arms forward and bending the elbows, embrace the opposite shoulder as if you were giving yourself a hug from the front. Elbows in line with the shoulders and deep breath into the upper back. Change the position of the arms ie. lower one goes above. Stay for 3-5 breaths.
Lizard Pose (Utthana Pristhasana)
Come onto all fours knees and hands. Then tuck your right toes under and straighten your right leg back. Bring the left foot unto the left edge of the mat out by your left hand. Lower the hips and begin to drop down onto your forearms. You can place the forearms onto a block for support. The back right knee can stay up or lower onto the mat. Stay for 3-5 breaths. Then change sides.
Sleeping Swan (Hamsasana)
From all fours, stretch your right back and bend your left knee in between your hands. Bring your left foot over to the right side of the mat. Stretch up into your back as you drop the hips down. Then slowly lower your back and chest forwards and down. Place one hand over the other as you bend your elbows out to the side. Rest your forehead over your hands. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into the left hip area. Stay for 3-5 breaths. Change sides.
Easy Shoulderstand (Viparita Karani)
Lie down on your back. Arms along your sides, shoulders away from the ears. Bend the knees and kick your legs up overhead and back. Immediately the hands come to support the hips. Its very important that once your legs are up in the air, you avoid moving your neck and head until you’re out of the position lying back down on the mat. Use the heals of the hands to support your hips and back, pressing the elbows down into the mat. Legs are active and up at an 60-70 degree angle. Eyes can gaze to the knees or the navel. Stay for 3-5 breaths.To come back down bend your knees into your face and slowly peel the back down supporting your hips with your hands. Avoid any abrupt movements or jolting the head up into sitting. Stay there for a few breaths and rest.
Plough Pose (Halasana) into Snail
Lying on your back, arms along your sides, shoulders away from the ears, kick your legs up overhead and back. Try to rest the toes onto the mat or floor. Both feet are together. If possible, begin to lift the hips and place the palms facing the mat. Arms are straight. You also have the option of interlinking your hands, straight arms. Stay for 3-5 breaths.
Then continue into the snail. Lower the knees to the sides by your ears. The arms come up overhead and the hands rest by the feet at either side. Stay for 3-5 breaths.
To release out of the pose, let the arms slowly come down by your sides. Bring your knees to your face and peel the back vertebra by vertebra back onto the mat. Rest for a few breaths lying on your back.