Let's Get Seasonal Pt. 2

'I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.' 
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Yes, it is true that I only just posted on seasonal eating last week. So why a sequel so soon? Well, I forgot to mention small ways in which we can make alterations to our physical activities in order to enjoy the changes that occur at this time of year.

I couldn't agree more with the sentiment of Mr Hawthorne. This is one of the best times of year for getting outside and there is little that I have been enjoying more than the sights, sounds and smells of Autumn...as you probably already know from my many many photos of recent walks on my Facebook and Instagram. Yet as a trainee yoga teacher who needs to practice her lesson plans, and a (hopefully recovering) M.E. suffer, there are also many reasons for me to be indoors. This has led me to looking at how I can incorporate both my needs and my wishes. 

Let's begin with Yoga. Our yoga practice should compliment our surroundings, our emotions as well as the context of our lives. So you can see why a seasonal shift should bring about a shift in our personal practice. Most find that the coming of Fall makes them want to carry out less active asana work and more meditation. This is quite natural and makes this season a perfect time for newbies to start. So use this time to strip back our practice in order to focus on working with the subtle energies through longer meditations, chanting (or start with singing if you find chanting a bit daunting) and pranayama (breathwork). These are all aspects of yoga that can bring about some serious health benefits, without an ashtanga jump or vinyasa flow in sight.

An image that the Om Yoga Show shared on twitter and I fell a little in love with 
Finding a Yoga Nidra class or video can be a wonderful way to be taken through a guided meditation. You lie on your mat in savasana (corpse pose - flat on your back with palms up and feet relaxed) whilst allowing the teachers vocal instructions to take you through your practice. It is a lovely way to relax the mind and body in order to counteract stress. If you have trouble sleeping then you may be surprised how many people drift off in savasana...they often say they have trouble sleeping too!

Now meditating doesn't have to be isolated to sitting or lying on a mat. Have you ever gone for a peaceful stroll in the country and found your mind slowly working it's way through problems that have plagued you for weeks. Well, you darling, were meditating. There is indeed such a thing as 'moving meditation' and this stilling and channeling of the mind's voice is exactly what any yogi would be hoping to achieve. Keep it up!

If you also suffer from M.E, or any health complaint, then Autumn is the perfect time to allow this to be the focus of your practice. The season is showing us that it is possible to let go of a previous existence, regardless of its perfection or beauty, safe in the knowledge that after a time new life will come again. It is not a death of something; it is a renewing. Allow the release of your past self. Like a leaf falling from a tree, it is part that's filled its purpose and is no longer needed. Immerse yourself in nature and take a leaf from it's book (I swear there was no pun intended!) 

If you can't make it outside for health or weather related reasons then take a chair to a window with a view you love to look at. Crack the window open slightly so that you can have a full sensory experience; smell the crisp air, feel the slight chill to the wind and hear the leaves rustle or rain fall. Then just breathe. Long, deep, slow breaths. How long does your inhalation last, 4 counts? Can you make both inhale and exhale last 6 counts? Take a minute to give your focus entirely to breathing and see how far you can extend this. This is your introduction to simple pranayama. Who said yoga was hard!

We all know breathing is how we get our oxygen. Well by extending and deepening the breathe it makes sense that we are then getting more oxygen. Did you also realise that by slowing the breath down, like by counting to draw it out, we are using one of the simplest stress reducing techniques for our body? Oxygenating the brain and muscles is necessary for everyday use and healing. By breathing deeply we are increasing our lung capacity and filling more of the tiny little alveoli sacs further down the chest. More sacs used equals greater surface area for gaseous exchange, meaning more good stuff in and more bad stuff out. I know this is a very simplified version of the science going on, but the point I am trying to make is that pranayama is proven, scientifically, to improve our health. And all without a requirement to get bendy.

Surrounded by scenery like this, it is hard not to breath deeply
If you can take yourself outside to get moving, then do so. Walking, hiking and cycling are all brilliant choices. Since getting my puppy I have gotten into walking, big time! It is such an easy way to get the whole body moving. Mind you, I have not always wanted to get up and out. Sometimes I have not really felt up to much at all, but one look at his little face is pretty darn encouraging. Once I got outside I always achieved more than I though I could AND felt better afterwards. One happy, tired pup and one happy, tired owner, check. The only thing I ever regretted was not having a camera on me at all times to capture the scenery.

Luckily I had my camera to capture this cutie matching the Autumn colour scheme
Gardening is also an easy way to test your ability out and about. There are sure to be plenty of leaves to rake and should you feel your energy depleting then you are not too far from home. If you do have enough energy then your reward can be jumping into the pile afterwards.

I truly believe you will still be getting the benefits of the great outdoors, like fresh air and vitamin D from sunlight, even if you do nothing more than find a buddy, sit out with a nice hot cuppa in your hands and enjoy the colour scheme. 

Remember these pointers to protect your health whilst you focus on your fitness:

Dress Sensibly: Something I am sure my mother never would have expected to hear from me. This time of year is all about layering my friend. Will it be a t-shirt day? Or should I be prepared for a Russian winter? Autumn keeps you guessing so bite the bullet, look like the michelin man and be prepared for anything. A good thermal base-layer will do wonders in minimising bulk and keeping in heat, plus decent thermals are pretty easy and cheap to pick up. I got mine for £10 from M&S. No excuses! I also won't be without a chunky scarf and waterproof until about April now.

Keep Drinking: I don't mean the fun stuff. Sorry! Throw your mind back to a hot and balmy Summer day, think of how much water you drunk (2, maybe 3 litres). Now consider how much you have had today...is it anywhere near as much? Staying hydrated helps us feel more alert, less hungry and aids in recovery from exercise. Warm teas and other hot drinks can help out here. Nothing gets me feeling better than a big 'ol mug of hot water and manuka honey when I wake up unable to attack the day.

Breathe Deep, Breathe Slow: It's energising, it's powerful and it takes no effort, only thought. Just remember to inhale through the nose, it is amazing how many people incorrectly use their mouths to inhale. If you don't know where to begin when bringing your focus to your breathwork then follow these 2 simple steps. 
  1. As you inhale, allow the word 'IN' to fill your mind. See if you can stretch the word to last the entire inhalation.
  2. As you exhale, allow the word 'OUT' to fill your mind. Again, try to slowly stretch the word to match the length of the breath.

The one problem with Autumn, it doesn't last long enough. Soon we will be but a few leaves away from Winter, so get out there anyway you can and start enjoying it now. We will be!


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Hi there, I'm Anni. Thank you for visiting my blog LoveOmLife. I hope you had a good read! Hit the Twitter tab up top, or the direct feed to the left, if you want to say hi back. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have some information you feel I should know. Just be sure you leave your blog details at the bottom of any contact so I can have a a good read too. xxx