The past few days, there has been an unmistakable snap in the air, the snap this signifies Autumn is fast approaching. Though the sun is still shining brightly on my face and shoulders as I walk my dog each afternoon, the wind is ever more persistent, and I find myself shedding layers and then putting them back on again.
As we move toward Autumn, sun and stars will even our their share of hours in each day and we will need to find our own ways to balance activity and rest, warm and cold, strength and surrender.
A wonderful practice that helps us to experience balance between all of these opposites is moving our bodies between Utkatasana and Uttanasana (chair pose and standing forward bend). Utkatasana builds heat and strength while Uttanasana allows us to surrender into the support of our bodies.
1 – Start in Tadasana (mountain pose) with hands palms together at the heart, feet parallel and hip-distance apart, eyes only slightly open. Focus on your breathing and how the breath moves in and out of your body. Where is it going?
2 – When you are ready, open your eyes gently and slowly.
3 – Lift your hands overhead, straightening your arms and separating your palms to shoulder-width. Reach through the fingertips. Bend your knees deeply and rotate the inner thighs toward each other. Thighs are working toward parallel to the floor. Point the tailbone toward the heels. Lift the heart, let the shoulder blades draw down your back. Lengthen through the lower back. Soften your face as you sit back and breath in Uktanasana for 3 breaths.
4 – On an exhale, straighten the legs and crease at the hips, folding forward. Pull the leg muscles up and hug them around the bones. See if you can center the weight of your hips evenly between the balls and heels of your feet. Pull the belly in, reaching the heart toward the feet. Neck and head are loose. Breathe in Uttanasana for 3 breaths.
5 – On an inhale, pull the belly in, bend the knees and lift the heart and hands back into Uktanasana. Hold for 5 strong breaths, before returning to Uttanasana for 5 delicious breaths.
7 – Repeat postures a third time, holding for 7-10 breaths each.
8 – Rest in Savasana for a few minutes, surrendering to the support of the floor.