The crisp air cries autumn as leaves change color, the sunlight grows golden and harvest festivals abound. It’s the natural time to “fall back”, gather our resources and prepare for cooler days ahead. In Ayurveda, autumn is the season of Vata, or the quality of air, wind, and changeability. Excess in this increase of activity can lead to spacey-ness, poor digestion, colds and fatigue. When we are in balance, however, we can embrace the possibilities and potential inherent in the season of change with inspiration and openness.
Stay healthy this month by keeping a good daily routine, staying warm and practicing poses that leave you feeling both grounded and inspired.
Matsyasana (Fish Pose) helps balance digestion by eliminating constipation, helps ward off colds by bringing circulation to the lungs, heart and chest, stimulates the immune system by activating the thymus, massages the thyroid and parathyroid glands and can help counter the symptoms that come from too much changeability, such as anxiety and fatigue.
There are many stories about the being for whom Matsyasana (Fish Pose) was named. Commonly, the pose pays homage to an incarnation of Vishnu who took the form of a fish (or was swallowed by a fish), who then became Lord Shiva’s “first” student by overhearing the secrets of the universe that Shiva revealed to his wife, Parvati. Thus, the lineage of teacher and student was born.
Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Bend your elbows and turn your palms to face one another so your fingers point up. This will help you lift into the backbend safely and easefully.
Press your upper arms firmly and evenly into the floor as you spread your fingers widely. Root down through your arms and lift your shoulder blades off the floor. As your chest rises, gently draw back through the crown of your head and rest it on the floor. Extend both legs on the ground. Now, keep a strong lift through your chest, lower your arms alongside your torso, and press your forearms into the floor.
Reach through your heels, point your toes toward the sky and root your thighs to the earth. From these grounding actions, try tilting your pelvis forward to deepen the stretch along the entire front of your body. Balance the weight on the crown of your head, letting your throat open. Avoid collapsing through your neck.
Draw your inhalations slowly into your pelvis, expanding your belly, ribs, chest and throat. Let the breath swirl around in your throat center and as you exhale, find a lift through the pelvic floor and navel center and let your awareness rest in the spaciousness of your chest and throat.
When you are ready to come out, bend your knees, place your feet on the floor and slowly lower to the back of your head. Bend your knees into your chest and rock back and forth, releasing your low back. Extend your legs and rest with ease in the possibility of change.
Chrisandra Fox Walker teaches 3 weekly classes at Yoga Tree. She leads the Heart of Renewal Retreats and is a core teacher and mentor in Yoga Tree’s 200-hour Teacher Training. Email Chrisandra@gmail.com
Photography by Ryan Scott