In the land of midnight sun the days are beginning to shorten. It happens gradually, just like the height of summer comes on slowly. I am starting to see one or two leaves fall from the trees as I walk our puppy, Lyle. The back to school section at Target is also growing, it started out small in mid July and now the whole back corner is occupied with college gear, and bins and rows of school supplies. While my mind is not quite ready to have summer wind down, I know that my body will thank me if I start to pay attention to the seasonal change and make a gradual shift with it instead of a brace against it.
Yoga and Ayurveda teach us to attune our microsystems with the macrosystem—to pay attention to the way the elements shift outside of ourselves and how it affects us on the inside of ourselves. And to pay attention to how the shifts inside of ourselves affect how we are or are not in harmony with the environment around us.
With the endless summer sun, myself and my family got into the habit of staying up late. The days were so long, our 5 year old boy, Seamus, would ask, is this breakfast when we sat down for dinner. The never-ending light, which makes summer so bountiful, also made regular bedtimes hard to hit. Which in turn made entering into the following day challenging. And while I used to make the earlier bedtime adjustments happen the week of school starting, I am trying to be kinder to not only myself but also live more in tune with nature, with fall edging into focus. I am beginning to realign with this seasonal shift by reestablishing regular bedtimes and rise times. This means I need to wind down earlier in the evening say 8 or 9 pm, so that I can catch the natural lull of my body that occurs at 9:30/10 pm, the pitta time of night that makes digesting the day easier because of its natural heating quality. By getting adequate rest, I am also able to rise with the sun at 6 am or earlier, which is the vata time of day, when the mind is quiet and light, ayuverda calls this ambryosia time of day ready to rest and digest by being in bed at 10 pm and this makes rising at 6 am easier, might I say natural.
Beginning to anticipate the school year and wanting to enjoy the rest of summer, I actually take my boys school shopping when the crowds are quieter. This way, we begin to prepare for school starting without it being a total rush to the system. It is a practice that is similar to squirrels stocking up for the season, and provides opportunity to emotionally prepare for the school year, by starting some of the conversation of what they are looking forward to doing and what challenges they may be anticipating. What are you preparing for with the oncoming of fall and how can you get the supplies you need now to set you up for what will come?
Also, this time of year, my daily abhyanga (self-massage with oil) practice helps soften the drying edges of fall, a time of natural drying, leaves become crisp, so does the air. Oiling myself as the drier season settles in allows for my body and mind to stay suppler, and allows my mind to stay more seated in the body instead of blown with the winds. As Kathryn Templeton says, “this act of self love can change the world.” IF you don’t have a daily oiling practice start with oiling your hands and feet before bed. And grow your practice to your whole body in the morning before showering.
What is fall bringing into focus for you? What can you do for yourself now to prepare? How are your rising and resting times regulated? How can you internally support the seasonal shift that is beginning to happen outside? How will you stay supple as we move into this drying time? How might these upcoming classes at Yoga North buoy your transition from the fullness of summer into the routines of fall?
Support your yoga and Ayurveda practices by planning out how a weekly class will help you as you anticipate the changes that fall will bring your way.
Written by Elizabeth Sullivan