“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”, says the renowned Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu.
Change is hard and most of us resist any change. Even though change may be beneficial, many of us struggle to change - to change careers, cities, old and unhealthy habits, to leave a bad relationship, to go back to school. Feeling anxious and stressed during the time of change is very common.
Ironically, it is only through changing ourselves that we can remain grounded through life’s transitions.
Fall is the season of transitioning and change
If we observe and spend time with nature during this beautiful season, it can teach us life-transforming lessons of acceptance, balance, letting go and surrender, that we can adopt in difficult times of change.
Yoga is the journey of the self. If we connect our heart and soul to our practice, it can help us to learn these life lessons and to embrace changes in the workplace or elsewhere with a lot more ease.
Accept change and know its impermance
Every autumn we revel in the beauty of the fall colors. The changing fall foliage leaves us wonderstruck, reminding us that change is the nature of life and change is beautiful. Admiring the changing leaves helps us be open to the surprises of nature and and the inevitable twists and turns in our life. It also means having faith that some supreme power always protects us in all the transitions of life.
Autumn, with its falling leaves and bare branches, remind us of the fleeting nature of all things. When we contemplate fall's changes, we grow more appreciative of the beauty that surround us. How gracefully the trees accept the changes that they undergo in the natural cycle of life... “When you can appreciate beauty in every inch of the creation, that is yoga.” – quotes Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, leading contemporary spiritual master.
The Breath of Joy teaches us to embrace all changes happily and with a smile. It energizes our body and uplifts our spirit.
Kapalbhati (Shining Skull) breathing technique help to cleanse and purify the entire system by releasing all the stored and unwanted toxins – be it chemical or emotional! This fall make sure to learn and practice these two powerful breathing techniques.
On the autumn equinox, day and night are of equal length. This signals the need to balance light and darkness within us. Far too often, we fear the dark and adore only the light.
One of the most popular definitions of yoga according to Bhavagad Gita, a 5,000 year old text on yoga, is “Samatvam Yoga Uchayate”, which translates to “being equanimous is Yoga”. Being in balance - open to light as well as dark - is yoga. Not only is light a welcomed part of life, but we can gratefully acknowledge the darkness as a place of silent nurturance, reflection, and slow and steady growth.
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose) and Veerbhadrasana (Warrior Pose) are wonderful poses to find this balance and help us accept all the challenges and changes with grace and dignity. The winds of change blow strong in the fall, but if we can learn to be steady and well grounded like a tree, and also sway with the wind without resisting it, we will be resilient like a warrior. While the tree pose teaches us to get the right balance between steadiness and swaying, the warrior pose teaches us to be ready for everything. What gives strength to the tree against the wind is its roots. While pursuing our dreams, challenging times may come. But if remain rooted with basic human values, they will provides us necessary support and strength to sail through the difficult times.
Let Go and Surrender
The equal division of day and night also reflects autumn's lesson to relinquish and to harvest. Autumn is a season that invites us to consider to release and surrender what no longer serves us or what gets in the way of being present to the sacredness of each moment.
We all know that a pigment called chlorophyll gives the green color of the leaves. During the hibernation of winter, the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down, and the vibrant shades we witness in autumn are the tree's true color. As we watch leaves changing shades and then fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature's cycles are mirrored in our lives. As autumn begins, it is time to reflect and surrender our masks and become more truly who we already are. As the leaves change their shades to unfold their true colors, let us consider changing the things, habits, beliefs, and attitudes that cover our true nature. This fall, let us surrender and let go all these to harvest our true nature of joy and bliss, peace and love. As per Patanjali Yoga aphorism - “Praytna shaithilya anantsamapatibhyam” which translates into “letting go of all the efforts, relax to experience the infinity”.
Paschimottasana (Seated forward bend) and Shishusana (Child’s pose) are the perfect poses to teach surrendering and letting go. During the transition, we take on new rhythms, so it’s important to take a moment to be inward, bow our heads and get close to Mother Earth. The chattering mind starts slowing down all mental gymnastics, and we find ourselves becoming restful and peaceful. These two poses offer us the opportunity to let go and surrender to the the present moment to unfold our true nature.
While we enjoy the marvelous colors of fall, let us imbibe these beautiful and life nurturing lessons, and get ready to welcome change and live life to our fullest! Let every change color your life with such magic and splendor!
By Sejal Shah, E-YRT 500 Yoga Teacher, Art of Living Teacher, Mind-Body Wellness Writer, Yogi, Meditator, Homeopath