Yoga & Ayurveda: An Autumn Yoga Practice

The Fall Equinox marks the beginning of Autumn.  With the arrival of Autumn, Vata dosha comes into prominence. Margaret Glatfelter, Ayurvedic Specialist and Yoga Therapist, suggests some Ayurvedic tips for an Autumn yoga practice for optimal wellness and balanced living.

The Ayurvedic term for humor is dosha, meaning that which spoils or causes decay.  When out of balance, the doshas cause disease. Treating dosha imbalance can cut off the disease process at the root.

Regular asanas are essential to long term health. The purpose of asana practice is to keep the doshas in their proper flow; to sustain them as forces of health and vitality.  Asana is the main physical exercise for balancing doshas. It calms Vata, cools Pitta and releases Kapha.

In a Yoga and Ayurveda session, Margaret sequences Yoga asanas to treat doshic imbalance, realigning and sustaining them as forces of health and vitality.

Autumn is predominantly a cool, dry, windy season. Vata is predominant in the elements air and space, giving it cold, light, dry, subtle, rough, and mobile qualities.

Our skin may start to feel dry, tight and even a little rough. Vata imbalance can also leave you feeling ungrounded, spaced out, fidgety or unable to focus properly.

Other signs of Vata aggravation include constipation, bloating, or feelings of anxiety and insomnia. You may also experience joint pain or back ache.

The following asanas are recommended for Vata imbalance. Perform them slowly, gently and steadily.

  1. Surya Namaskar (sun salutes): Practice mindfully with complete awareness on the breath.
  2. Standing poses: Tadasana (mountain), Vrikshasana (tree), Trikonasana (triangle), Virabhadrasana  (warrior poses).  Focus gently on full extension. Relax and  breathe in the pose.
  3. Sitting poses: Virasana (Hero), Siddhasana (easy seat), Padmasana (lotus pose), Vajrasana (thunderbolt).  Seated asanas balance the mind, increase powers of concentration inducing physical and mental relaxation quickly.
  4. Inversions: Vipareeta Karani (shoulder stand), Sirshasana (headstand).  Inversions stop the aging process.
  5. Back bends: Bhujangasana (Cobra), Salabhasana (locust), and Dhanurasana (bow pose).  Backbends opens the flow of vital energy to the heart and increase flexibility of the spine.
  6. Forward Bends: Vajrasana (child’s pose), Uttanasana (standing forward bend), Paschimottananasana (sitting forward bend). These postures quickly remove excess Vata, managing constipation and gas. Lower back tightness is released and stiff spines regain suppleness.
  7. Spinal twists:   Supta Parivartanasana I & II (reclining twist).  Spinal twists purify the internal organs and balance the entire nervous system.  Breathe deeply and relax into the posture.
  8. Yoga Mudra:  This full body mudra seals in all the energy gained during the yoga asana practice.
  9. Yoga Nidra (conscious sleep). This profound yet simple form of guided meditation is performed in shavasana (corpse pose).  It is deeply rejuvenating. Relaxation releases impurities and integrates energy gained during practice.  Allow at least 20 minutes. For insomnia, practice at bedtime.

To balance Vata, a restorative practice is best.

  • Maintain a slow, smooth and steady pace.
  • Stretch moderately.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Use small, gentle movements with multiple repetitions.
  • Focus on stability and grounding while in the pose.

Restoring wholeness in body, mind and spirit is what we are all seeking, both individually and collectively. Following these practice guidelines will assist in maintaining balance and wellness as we transition into Autumn.



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