Stay grounded during the seasonal change with these 5 Vata yoga poses…
As the seasons change, so do our energies – at least according to the Ayurvedic tradition. Fall is commonly associated with the Vata dosha, which is represented by space, air, dryness, coldness, lightness, and movement. As the summer heat gives way to the cool, windy and dry season of fall and winter, our doshas may become unbalanced, and it’s a great time to give ourselves a bit of extra care and attention during this transitional phase.
Ayurvedic medicine recognizes that we may feel a little irregular during this time of year. Our digestion and sleep cycles may be disrupted. Our skin may feel dry, and our circulation may need to adjust to help keep our extremities warm as the weather cools. Anxiousness, restlessness, and sleeplessness are also common this time of year.
Ayurveda teaches that we can stay grounded and balanced by recognizing these changes and balancing them with opposite qualities. This is why we may particularly enjoy warm blankets, hot baths, and fatty foods during the fall and winter months.
Just as we may adjust our diet and exercise routine this time of year, we may also wish to focus our yoga practice on sequences and poses that help us to feel grounded and centered – counterbalancing the restless desire for motion and change.
Here are 5 vata yoga poses that Chopra.com recommends for the fall season (you can do these in the sequence below, or simply pick a couple to do a few times during your day to help keep you balanced and grounded):
1.) Child’s Pose or Rock Pose (Balasana or Vajrasana)
To enter child’s pose, Balasana, begin in a tabletop position. Your hands will connect to the ground under your shoulders and your knees will land under your hips. Connect the big toes behind you and guide your hips back towards your heels. If you’d like, you can take your knees a bit wider than your hips so the heart can rest closer to the earth.
Using a blanket at the shins to connect your seat to your heels may be supportive in this shape, you might also consider placing a pillow or bolster under your heart to support your torso. Allow yourself to find comfort and rest here for a few grounding breaths.
If child’s pose isn’t quite working today, you might ground in space by taking on another shape. To make your way into rock pose, vajrasana, begin the same way, in a tabletop position. From here connect the tops of your feet to the ground and walk your hands back towards your knees.
Allow your seat to connect with your heels and shins then let your spine grow tall, reaching the crown of your head towards the sky. The hands can overlap in your lap or rest beside your hips. You might invite a blanket in to support your seat, allowing the blanket to land between the sitting bones and the shins.
2.) Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
From child’s pose or rock pose walk your hands forward through a tabletop position. As you ground your hand into the earth let your knees lift and make your way into downward facing dog. As you’re ready, walk your feet to meet your hands towards the top of your mat.
In the forward fold position, breathe in to rise all the way to standing with your arms over head. As you exhale, let your arms settle and rest by your hips. Allow your feet to land wherever it feels comfortable, whether that be hips distance apart, wider than the hips, or feet connected.
With the hands resting by the hips, you might explore what it feels like to face the palms forward or see how it feels to have the palms facing the legs. Wherever you’ve landed, allow your body to begin to settle, feel your feet grounded into the earth beneath you.
Feel your breath travel through the body, invite the gaze to land towards the ground or the eyes to close all the way. Take a few rounds of breath standing tall in the fullness of your being, grounded firmly in your truth, your power.
3.) Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
When you are ready, begin to fold forward once again and ground your hand into the mat. Step your left foot toward the back of your mat to find your way into a low lunge position, invite a blanket under your left knee as a cushion to support the body if that feels good. As you become ready, bring both of your hands to the inside of your right leg and begin to walk your right foot over towards the right side of your mat.
This is a wonderful place to invite blocks into your space and allow the hands to rest on the blocks. If this feels good in the body, stay here. If you’d like to create a more active shape, consider lifting your back knee off the floor. You might also bring your forearms to the blocks or the ground to find a new experience of this shape. Take about 5 to 10 grounding breaths here and then, when you are ready, switch sides.
4.) Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
From lizard pose on the second side, find your way into a tabletop position. Shift your heels to one side and have a seat on your mat, bringing your legs out in front of you. If you’d like to create more space for the hips and pelvis to get grounded, bring a blanket under your seat.
From here, connect the soles of your feet and let your knees drop to either side. You are welcome to keep the spine upright if the sensation here feels expansive, maybe you place blocks or pillows under your knees to bring the ground towards you. To add more sensation here begin to walk your hands forward creating a forward fold in this bound angle shape. Breathe here for as long as it feels good.
5.) Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
When you are ready, let the spine grow tall once again and extend your legs in front of you. As you prepare for this next shape, make your way towards a wall. Bring your mat, towel or blanket with you to create a comfortable space to lay on. Then connect one of your hips towards the wall. Start to move your legs up the wall as you recline onto the ground. Your spine will be in connection with the mat and your heels will be resting up the wall.
Take your arms into any position that feels comfortable, they might rest by your hips, in a T position, or connect to the torso in some capacity. Rest here for as long as you’d like, taking a full 10 or 20 minutes here will offer a deep groundedness.
When you are ready to release this shape, press your feet into the wall to gently slide away. Draw your knees towards your heart, breathing in gratitude for yourself for showing up here today and creating space for your practice. Find your way back into a comfortable seated position and pause for another few breaths, giving yourself time to transition back into the day.