Grounding Practices For The Fall Season: By Laurel Marsh

The fall, and dare I say winter, is upon us, which brings quite a few changes to us New Englanders.  Yes, summer temperatures will pop up here and there, but let’s face it, they’ll be few and far between. 

During the change of seasons it’s important to note that just as we see changes in the external world, our internal being shifts as well.  This can often be overlooked as we get swept up in our everyday activities, but if you stop and pay attention, you may notice a growing desire for warm, soothing, comforting, and grounding foods or activities.  It makes total sense - these desires help to balance out the cooler temperatures, rough winds, and busy or un-grounding schedule.  This concept of like increases like and the opposite balances stems from the ancient practice and sister science of yoga, Ayurveda (Ayur meaning life, Veda meaning knowledge or science). 

So, to help keep you balanced, grounded, and in good health this autumn try incorporating one or all of these yogic practices into your routine.  Enjoy!

Bhu Mudra

Bhu Mudra

Bhu Mudra (Hand Gesture or Seal)

Benefits

  • Calms the nervous system

  • Reduces stress and anxiety

  • Great for travelers

How To

  • Come to a comfortable seated position using a meditation cushion or chair

  • Make a fist with each hand and then release the index and middle fingers, forming a peace sign

  • Straighten the arms out to the sides and place the fingertips onto the ground (or the thighs if seated in a chair)

  • Close the eyes and breath down into the pelvis and belly

  • On the inhalations feel a subtle upward flow of energy from the ground up through the fingertips

  • On the exhalations feel a subtle downward flow of energy out through the arms and fingertips

  • Stay for 10 or so breaths

Cat

Cat

Cow

Cow

Marjaryasana-Bitilasana  

(Cat & Cow Pose)

Benefits

  • Gently warms the body

  • Releases tension in the spine, neck, shoulders, and pelvic region

  • Gently stimulates and tones the abdominal region

  • Helps establish a slow, steady, and rhythmic breath

  • Synchronizes breath and movement

How To 

  • Come to a table top position, placing the hands under the shoulders (or slightly ahead) and the hips directly over the knees

  • On an inhalation lift the tailbone and spread the sit bones while lengthening the chest away from the navel.  Broaden across the chest and gently lift the head – this is cow

  • On an exhalation draw the tailbone towards the floor, lift the lower belly, and curl the spine up towards the ceiling.  Spread the shoulder blades and let the head drop – this is cat

  • Inhale, come back to cow, and exhale move back into cat

  • Repeat 5-10 times

 Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)

Standing Forward Fold

Standing Forward Fold

Benefits

  • Lengthens the back body (back and hamstrings)

  • Improves digestion and helps reduce bloating/gas

  • Soothes the nervous system

  • Reduces stress, mild depression, and headaches

How To

  • Stand upright in Tadasana (mountain pose) with the hands on the hips and the feet hips width distance or a little wider

  • On an inhalation softly lift the spine and sides of the torso

  • On an exhalation bend the knees (as needed) to hinge forward and down from the hip creases

  • Place the hands to either the floor, blocks, or grab opposite elbow with opposite hand for a ragdoll variation

  • Keep the legs bent (as needed) to allow the entire upper body to hang heavily

  • Gently engage the fronts of the legs so the backs of the legs can open

  • Feel the soles of the feet spread onto the ground and inhale into the lower ribcage/belly.  Exhale down through the spine, head, legs and out through the feet

  • Feel free to add a slow swaying movement from side to side

  • Stay for 5-10 breaths

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Benefits

  • Balances the nervous system

  • Reduces stress and anxiety

  • Opens and clears sinuses

  • Balances the right and left side of the brain and the pingala (solar) and ida (lunar) nadis (subtle energy channels) 

 How to

  • Sit comfortably on a mediation cushion or a chair

  • Using the right hand, gently place the index and middle finger between the brows.  Bring the thumb to the outside of the right nostril and the ring finger to the outside of the left nostril 

  • To start, close the right nostril and inhale fully through the left nostril 

  • Close the left nostril and open the right nostril to exhale fully 

  • Inhale fully through the right nostril

  • Close the right nostril and open the left nostril to exhale fully – this completes one cycle

  • Continue going back and forth for about 3-5 minutes

  • End by exhaling through the left nostril and then release the right hand from the nose.  Sit quietly for a few moments, breathing in and out through both nostrils, and notice any shifts.