Have you noticed the air turning chilly, the leaves falling from the trees and the nights getting longer?
The seasonal transition from summer to autumn is here for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere.
If you are in the Northern hemisphere, your days are getting lighter, longer and warmer so save this for when Fall rolls around. North or South: the seasons are shifting for us all.
Seasonal shifts can be felt in our energy.
Perhaps it’s getting a little harder to get out of bed when you wake up? Or, you find yourself declining more social invitations because going out in the evening just seems, well…. too hard.
Perhaps your joints feel more stiff in the morning or you’ve noticed increased aches in your body throughout the day.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), autumn is associated with Yin: cooling, restorative, staying inside, harvesting energy and reflecting on the memories of the things we have done. Yin and Yang are the theoretical basis of Chinese Medicine and at the core of this is the principle that everything exists in a balance of Yin and Yang. Yang is associated with warmth, energy expenditure, activity, going outside so you can see why Summer is considered the height of Yang energy, right?
Why does this matter?
The change of season can be taxing on our immune system, perhaps explaining why we tend to get more coughs, colds and respiratory infections at this time of year. It doesn’t matter which part of the world you live in: infections start to climb at autumn and continue into winter.
Studying the changes in the season and aligning ourselves with the rhythm of nature can help us to understand our internal landscape. Navigating the seasonal transition from summer to autumn requires us to ground ourselves in order to look inward.
Yin for the Win
One effective practice to ground yourself and to come home into your body is Yin Yoga. In some ways, Yin Yoga may be considered to be a form of active rest as we usually do not stand up or come into yoga poses (asana) that create muscle heat. That does not mean it is easy yoga!
Yin yoga can be emotionally and mentally-challenging (even confronting) as you lie in stillness for several minutes. This aspect of quietly holding a shape that targets your fascia and connective tissue, without aggravating your joints, can be challenging as your thoughts may rise to the surface. Therein lies the therapeutic aspect of Yin, though: It is a beautiful modality for mindbody connection.
Yin yoga helps has a host of scientific and health benefits:
- Cultivating stillness (mindfulness)
- Deep release of muscle tension
- Movement of Qi through the meridians, in TCM
- Encourages development of interoception (internal body awareness) and so with regular practice, you may enhance your ability to recognise the subtle shifts in your body that signal an illness flare, allowing you to take action early.
The prolonged stillness and silence of Yin gets you into the parasympathetic state – this leads to reduced inflammation, anxiety and chronic stress.
The more you can access the parasympathetic state (which I will unpack elsewhere), the more you can mitigate the effects of chronic stress, which in turn reduces inflammation and bolsters your immune system.
Access your FREE Yin class and other yoga practices by joining my private Facebook group, Yoga with Dr. Nikki.
Do you practice Yin yoga? How has it helped your health and wellbeing?