Channelling the Seasons

Don’t jump into autumn thinking you have to achieve it all. This season is actually all about rooting yourself in what matters and looking forward to a new rhythm, says Nicola Chantler

We inhabit many roles: friend, sibling, parent, entrepreneur, spouse, coworker… the list goes on. And with each strand making our unique whole, it’s no wonder that, faced with life’s changes, our internal landscape can be unsettled.

Change can be challenging and one universal switch we all navigate is the seasonal shift. And if you’re reluctant to relinquish summer’s light for the breezy days of autumn, it’s useful to know that this is the season to restore your inner equilibrium.

According to the teachings of Ayurveda – an ancient, holistic approach to wellbeing, originating in India – autumn is a time for transformation. It’s evident in the natural world: the leaves change and the temperature cools. Summer’s warmth is blown away by autumn’s breeze, bringing with it an air of possibility.

Many of us find it hard to wave goodbye to the joyful days of summer. But when we settle into the transition, we can strike an internal balance that allows us more intuitive living. If, over the summer, you’ve considered a change in your working life – a career move, perhaps, or a request for promotion – autumn’s energetic shift from outward to inward can give you the clarity you need to transform.

No gardener sows his seeds in malnourished soil and neither should we. This is the season to nourish our roots. We might reflect on where we’ve put our energy over the past year and whether this has been fruitful. Have our efforts at work been recognised? Have we been supported? Have we worked more than we’ve lived?

Now is the time to honour our efforts, celebrate our achievements and consider what we wish to preserve moving forward and what we might let go of. Whether we’re feeling the highs of success, or the lows of self-doubt or imposter syndrome, autumn offers a moment to reflect.

In Ayurveda, we are born with five essential elements: fire, water, earth, air and space. These make up our inner constitution, or dosha. While all are present in our makeup, one or two have dominance. Those with more fire are pitta/; those with water and earth kapha/; those with air and space, vata. Discovering which we are is enlightening: our dosha doesn’t change, but its balance is altered by life’s ups and downs. »

‘When vata is in balance, it offers us space for great creativity,’ says Ayurvedic consultant Emma Turnbull, owner of Yoga Wise. ‘Autumn is predominantly vata.’

The season’s energy can give us a ‘back to school’ feeling. ‘Our nervous system is governed by vata dosha,’ Emma explains, ‘so we may feel more prone to worry.’ But we can balance this with diet changes, self-care, community and movement. The resulting recipe rejuvenates our body, mind and soul.

And as we edge closer to the autumnal equinox, we can seek clarity on who we are, what we want and what is important to us. ‘Gradual change over this period will help,’ says Emma. ‘Summer is often a busy time; now it’s time to slow down.

‘Simple routines can help. Add more cooked warm foods and warming spices to your diet, and warm oil massage. Journaling can purge the mind of any mental ama [toxins]. Whatever is on your mind, get it out.
Release it.’

Fluctuations brought on by autumn’s arrival can be balanced by grounding.

Ahead of a stressful meeting at work, explore a breathing technique such as nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). This purifies our body’s energy channels, balancing the flow of vital energy, or prana:

  • To begin, find a comfortable, seated position
  • Close your eyes
  • Rest the first two fingers of your right hand at your third eye space, your thumb lightly on your right nostril and your ring finger on your left nostril (mirror instructions if your left hand is dominant)
  • Gently close your right nostril with your thumb, then take a smooth breath in through your left
  • Pause at the peak of inhalation, then close your left nostril, and release your right to exhale
  • Breathe in through the right. Pause at the peak, close the right and breathe through the left
  • This is one round of nadi shodhana. Repeat up to five or ten times.

If your mind feels cluttered, walk outside during your lunch break. The beauty of nature beginning to fade is a reminder that we’re not supposed to bloom all year round. Focus on the feeling of your feet on the earth as you walk. Take in the changing colours, the sensations of the breeze on your skin and the feeling of your breath. Let your inhalation draw inward the life around you and your exhalation release any heaviness you might be carrying.

Autumn is the ideal time to make plans for our journey ahead. By harvesting what we’ve grown, we can nourish our roots for rewards – professionally, personally and holistically.