Written By: Andy Vantrease
As we transition to autumn, most of us will try to hang on to the summer heat, memories of vacation sunsets, the daily dose of berries and melons, and the freshly caught seafood cuisine. Others look forward to a break from the sticky, humid days and the insects that come as a package deal. Despite your seasonal preference, there’s one thing for certain: Mother Nature is on her own schedule.
In the natural world, autumn means readying for winter, when everything will become darker and quieter for a while. Animals prepare burrows for hibernation, birds round up their flocks and head south, and humans, well, most of us here in the Mid-Atlantic know that we’ll need to get out the scarf collection and remember where we packed our heavy coats. Modern life begs for long working hours and the same commitment to extracurricular events year round. But what if we took a hint from our surrounding earth?
After a season of pool parties, sporting events, summer camps, and saying “yes” to every invitation as an excuse to get out in the sun, our bodies are ready for some down time. This transition phase is an opportunity to review the way you’re living and adjust it to fit your needs as they fluctuate with the forecast.
Use the extended darkness to develop an evening routine for an earlier bedtime (and in turn, an earlier waking hour), don’t bite off more than you can chew – literally and metaphorically speaking – and make time for yourself outside of the necessary daily responsibilities. Buy and prepare local produce, focusing on root vegetables for soups and stews that will ground your airy energy, and drink more warm beverages, especially to start and end your day.
Keep your blinds open and rise earlier with the natural sunlight, nurturing your circadian rhythm and leaving time to relax and gather your thoughts before the To-Do list takes over. Instead of running out into frigid morning air with an ice-cold smoothie in hand, perhaps reach for a warm cup of lemon water to heat your insides, jumpstart your digestive system and begin the cells’ detox process.
Listen to your body as it asks for gentle movement to fire up cold muscles. Practice poses that will internalize your energy as we move from carefree summer to grounded winter: Balasana (Child’s pose) and Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold) guide your energy inward towards the body, while Savasana (Corpse pose) allows your masses to sink into the earth, finding stability and comfort.
Focus on gliding through this transition phase with awareness. Awareness of the physical changes taking place in the environment around you – the colors of leaves, drop in temperature, length of sunlight, as well as the changes taking place in your own body– dry skin and hair, cold extremities, and a hearty appetite. Notice these changes and nourish them. Be kind to yourself and those around you as you drift smoothly into nature’s next beautiful season.