Autumn- An ideal time for letting go

We’re having a big family get together at my place in a few weeks so I have made a plan to get my garden back in shape by then. Back to vigilantly watering my herbs daily and flowers twice a week… But not much is saving my chives, basil and sage- which grew abundantly all summer, providing us delightful flavours for our meals. All I have been able to do is sadly cut off the last of my basil leaves and make my last pesto for the season; and cut back the sage and chives to give to neighbours and friends… The pots look a bit bare but I look forward now to seeing what I can plant to get us through the winter months.

As nature dictates, Autumn is about shedding old- letting go to invite in the new. You don’t see trees holding onto leaves they no longer need, do you? It’s a particularly Eastern tradition to value destruction and death as much as creation and life. Destruction leads to new growth and life, that’s even stronger and more resilient than in the lifetime before. The cycle of life and death through time is impermeable.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Metal element is prevalent in Autumn. While metal is sturdy and solid, it is maleable.  Autumn “tests our metal”- do we have the strength and courage to let go of old, and welcome new? The emotion associated with Metal is grief. It’s ok to grieve loss during the cooling/ shedding season. When the grief overcomes us and debilitates us, however, it affects our inner and outer health. The positive aspect of metal element is sensitivity and honesty.

 

TCM also encourages us to say goodbye to party season. The energy we have through summer to work through the days and party through the nights and weekends starts to work against us as the weather cools. The first thing you’ll notice as the season changes, is that your immune systems take a beating. As I always tell my students, you will not get a cold or flu just by standing next to someone with the current virus- but you definitely will get one if you are lacking in sleep, highly stressed and living a fast paced life without rest or relief. Autumn is the time to get to bed a little earlier, start to eat more nurturing foods, slow down the fast pace and take time out for you and your family.

 

The 2 organ meridians are associated with Autumn/ metal are the large intestine and lung. So while the former governs elimination and getting rid of toxins, the latter governs the imbibing of fresh new prana and chi.

 

During this time of the year, you may experience afflictions such as:

  • irritable bowel
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • shoulder pain/ weakness
  • asthma or any breathing issues
  • sinus
  • colds/ sore throats/ bronchitis
  • lower back pain
  • menstrual issues

They are ripe for being addressed and treated during this time of the year. Some things you can personally do include:

  • “Autumn Clean” – declutter- your house, workspace, car, handbags, wallets… anything where old unnecessary things accumulate. If you’ve ever done this before, you know exactly how liberating it feels.
  • Take early morning walks in the park – or even by the beach- which is so beautiful at this time of year. Before the day’s stresses start, clear your mind. Naturally – a great yoga session would fit in here nicely!!
  • Take stock of any anger or resentment you are holding on to. Challenge yourself to let it go; forgive- and then forget!

 

The following yin yoga practice works the lung and large intestine areas directly. Thanks to my teacher trainees who acted as models for this blog article.

 

Rotated Wide Legged Frog-
hold about 3 mins each side
Quarter Happy Puppy.
hold around 3 mins each
Sphinx
Hold between 3-5 mins
Seal
Hold up to 5 mins
Lateral DragonFly
Hold up to 3 mins on each side
Paschimottanasana
Intense seated forward bend
A good 5-6 minutes
Supine twist
4 mins each side
Snail
5-6 mins
    As air is so relevant in Autumn,
Pranayama is essential.
Commence with some Shatkarmas
such as Kaphalabati (to cleanse the
mind) and Bastrika (to clear the nadis)Then continue to Nadi Shodana – with
an inhale left-retain- exhale right-
inhale right- retain- exhale left  in suggested
rhythm ratio of 1:2:3  (e.g. inhale 4 counts;
retain 8; exhale 12)