With the equinox behind us, autumn is here. We’ve moved from the growth cycle of summer to the slower more dormant time of the year.
In Chinese medicine, autumn is a time to harvest our energy and take time to pause, slow down and be still. While the animals and plants around us honor this law of nature, we seldom do. As a result we can feel imbalanced and out of sorts if we don’t self-care.
Autumn is associated with the lung and large Intestines energetic meridian channels. The healthy cycle is associated with the lungs drawing in chi and the large intestines letting go what we no longer need. These two partner organs may easily go out of balance during autumn. If we don’t take time to honor the natural rhythms on and off the mat, we can feel under the weather.
So, what are the emotional, physical and mental symptoms that point to an imbalance? And how can you create more balance?
Are you feeling ungrounded, out of touch with your ‘feeling’ parts? Are you experiencing prolonged sadness, and grief? Are you feeling emotionally stopped? My teacher, Sarah Powers talks about us not being able to cry when we are awed with beauty- that kind of emotional stoppage.
We've all been through so much with the pandemic and wild fires that we are all probably feeling a sense of loss and grief for the life we once knew. I know I am.
On the flip side, when the lung and large intestines meridians are in harmony we can feel courage, experience our moments as precious and stay in the experience we’re in. We have courage to face our sadness and are able to let go.
Are you prone to catching colds? Do you have respiratory issues in the nose and throat? Do you have allergies and even skin issues like acne, hives or rashes? Remember the skin is known as the ‘third lung’ so skin issues can point to an imbalance.
Do you find it difficult to face challenges with confidence? Is your thinking muddled, cloudy and disconnected?
The good news is there are simple things we can do on and off the mat to honor the harvest season, clear out the old and welcome in the new.
Aligning with the cycle of ingestion (lungs) and letting go (large intestines), here are some insightful questions to ask ourselves. What is it that’s holding me back? What am I afraid to let go off? Doing this inner work on and off the mat can be incredibly insightful.
For me the insight relates to self-destructive beliefs I have about myself when I’m in a romantic relationship. I have let go of so much but it’s like peeling an onion - there are many layers to it.
My yin classes provide a safe container for this type of internal inquiry as we hold the poses for extended periods, explore sensations, emotions, and feelings that come to the surface. We practice inner listening and often ‘realize’ the untrue stories we tell ourselves which keep us in our discomfort. Each yin pose can be like a mini-exploratory and healing session. Join me! See my schedule here.
In Chinese medicine the season of autumn is associated with the element of metal, which governs things like organization, setting limits, and protecting boundaries.
Clean out the wardrobe
Are there any projects you began in spring or summer that need to be finished? Of course, it's also the perfect time to begin more introspective, indoor projects. With that in mind, I’m considering clearing out old pairs of jeans and donating them. I have so many different styles that it’s time to declutter. For decluttering, see Marie Kondo.
It’s also a good time to reflect on personal relationships and identify the ones that are causing us friction. Then ask ourselves do we need to set a limit or protect our boundaries. Is there a relationship that has not been serving you? Do you feel you’ve been giving too much and it’s tiring you? Is it time to see if setting a boundary with that person will create more ease for you?
Autumnal beauty rituals I recommend are using a loofah to exfoliate the skin on your body to shed the summer skin and welcome the healthiest skin possible for the season ahead. Another treat is incorporating aromatherapy oils, such as lavender and geranium into your favorite moisturizer and massaging your body and soles of your feet. It’s heavenly!
Eat grounding foods
The best grounding foods to eat, as recommended by nutritionists are root vegetables which are great for stabilizing energy because they grow underground. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, parsnips, turnips, garlic, radishes, rutabagas, and ginger are all ideal examples of root vegetables that can be cooked up in warm dishes throughout the autumn season.
I like to make my own ‘grounding tea’ by boiling a large pot of water and adding ginger, cloves and a pinch of turmeric (be careful as it stains things it comes in contact with).
For exceptional seasonal plant-based recipes, see Sapana Chandra. I try to make at least 1-2 bowls per week from Sapana's book.
Doing a simple Yin Yoga sequence can help support the tender lungs to function more smoothly. Check out my 10 minute sequence here.
The target tissue is the upper arms and shoulders where the lung and large intestines meridians intersect the connective tissue. The sequence brings fresh life-giving chi to the upper body and help the lungs receive pure chi from the heavens on the inhale and propel it downward to where the kidney energy roots it in. Please do this 10 minute sequence a few times a week to help these organic processes flourish within you. Or see you in class for a deeper dive.
Wishing you a peaceful season of harvest. See you in class!