Autumn is the time when the leaves dry and fall from trees and nature turns inward to reflect and rest. Our bodies need the same, and with these five seasonal yoga poses, we can shift our focus away from stress and tension and toward renewal.
Letting go of what no longer serves us makes room to allow beneficial new perspectives and experiences. Letting go of small things like drinking soda or staying up too late can be just as beneficial to our well-being as letting go of bigger things like gossip, grudges, or complaints.
If we release gossip, we have more room to talk to our friends about meaningful and enriching topics and build better relationships. If we stop drinking soda, we can quench our thirst instead with water or green juice and feel healthier and have more sustained energy.
Five Yoga Poses for Autumn
Letting go of negative energies from stress and tension are important as well. These five yoga poses can help release those negative energies as we reflect on the things we can choose to let go of this during this autumn season.
Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana)
This pose allows tension and stress to flow down the spine and out the crown of the head.
Begin by standing upright, feet parallel and hip width apart. Begin to fold torso and head forward, leading with the sternum and bending from the hips.
Slide the middle and index fingers or each hand between the big toe and the second toe of each foot. Wrap the fingers firmly around the toe to secure. If reaching the toes with straight legs isn’t comfortable, use a strap under the ball of each foot and grip with the hands.
On an inhale, grip the toes and lift the chest, straightening the elbows. Using the leverage of the toes pressing down, exhale and begin to fold forward, forehead toward the shins, elbows bending out slightly to the sides. Release and relax through the head and neck.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
The hips are notorious storehouses of emotional tension, and this pose helps open and ground the hips, releasing any stored stress into mama earth.
Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips or groins are tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can.
With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If it isn’t possible to hold the toes, clasp each hand around the same-side ankle or shin.
Never force the knees down. Instead release the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor and gently allow the groin to open. If it is comfortable for you, you can slowly exhale forward, bending at the hips and bringing the forehead toward the floor in front of you, concentrating on keeping the spine long and opening the knees.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose is an all-over rejuvenating stretch that expands the ribcage for deeper breathing and warms the body from the inside out.
Begin in table-top pose, hands slightly in front of shoulders and knees under hips. Press down firmly through each hand, fingers parallel or turned out a bit. Curl the toes under and lift knees away from the floor. Lengthen the tailbone away from the pelvis as you lift the hips high. Rotate the thighs inward, turning heels out slightly.
Press the palms and fingers down firmly. Roll the arms outward and draw the shoulder blades down the back toward the tailbone. Work the heels toward the mat, but don’t worry if they hover. Focus on a long spine and lifted tailbone, feeling a lengthening stretch in both sides of the ribcage. Breathe deeply and gaze at the knees or belly.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This pose is perfect for the fall season, as it allows us to root down as we rise, growing out of what no longer serves us.
Shift your weight onto your right foot. Bend your left knee and place the sole of your foot as high as you comfortably can on your right inner thigh. You may need to assist this by placing the foot using the right hand. Point your toes down.
Keep hands together in front of the body. Or press down through the right foot as you raise your arms overhead and relax your shoulders. Keep the belly in and the hips level. Repeat on the other side.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This pose symbolizes the cycle of death and rebirth. It mirrors the cycles in nature as the leaves die in autumn to be renewed in the spring.
Lie flat on the back, chin tucking slightly to elongate and relax the back of the neck. Position the feet as wide as the mat and allow them to flop open gently. Tuck the shoulder blades under the back. Let the arms relax at your sides, palms facing up toward the ceiling.
Close the eyes and run a mental scan of the body from head to toe. Consciously release any tension, including in the jaw and tongue and between the eyebrows.
Note that if you are feeling tension in your low back, relieve it by placing a bolster or blanket under the knees. You should be completely relaxed in this pose.