This month offers a wonderful time for us all to reflect on the summer and prepare for the fall. Whether or not your schedule has been altered with the start of another school year, this overall sense of beginning gives everyone a moment to start again.
I invite you to look back on goals you may have set at the beginning of the year and give them another breath of life, or allow yourself to start fresh! Perhaps those resolutions made nine months ago no longer suit who we are today. Give yourself the option to change.
Whatever you want to start, take your time. If your goal is to run a 10k, you don’t do it on the first day! Start small. Instead of overwhelming yourself at the start, break up your goal into smaller increments and celebrate each step. Decide what you want to include this month and set up a ritual to achieve it. Set aside the same time each day to work towards your goals and make it a priority.
If your goal is to start meditating more frequently, just find five minutes. Sit quietly at the kitchen table while your coffee brews. Turn your phone to silent after lunch and sit at your desk for five minutes while you digest. Arrive five minutes early to pick up your kids from school and turn off the radio in your car. Find a time each day for the next week and dedicate yourself to trying. At the end of the week, reflect if you felt any affects from this practice and make a plan for the following week. Continue with five minutes every day or adjust to ten minutes every other day. You know better than anyone else what will work for you.
If you have 10 or 15 minutes to sit quietly, find a comfortable seat. Propping the hips up on a cushion or even seated upright in a chair allows the blood to flow freely through the legs and feet. Whatever position you take, draw the top of your head up and allow your shoulders and arm to relax down. Maintain the natural curves of your spine and breath evenly through the whole body. It is up to you to close your eyes or keep them slightly open. Once the body is still, you can let your awareness start to scan the body and take note of any physical sensations. Starting at the top of your head, relax all the muscles around your skull, forehead and jaw. Soften the throat and shoulders. Keep the arms and hands heavy. Allow the chest and belly to flow easily with each breath. Feel the weight in the hips and allow the thighs to relax away. Finally, move all the way down into the feet and toes, consciously relaxing the whole body. What you feel each time you sit and scan might be different. Take note of these changes, but don’t try to think why. Some days it might be easy to find a sense of calm and other days it might be impossible. Invite yourself to just be who and what you are that day.
The end of summer often leaves us feeling a little wobbly. The weather hasn’t fully shifted into cooler days and it is easy to feel a bit suspended.
Nadi Shodhana is a pranayama exercise meant to balance the dualities in the body. In yogic philosophy, there are three main nadis or channels that run through the body. The central Sushumnanadi runs vertical from the root to the crown and flows between the seven chakras. On each side, starting from the third eye, are two nadis that crisscross at each of these energetic centers. Accessed from the left nostril is the Ida nadi, the channel connected to the moon. The flow of energy through this channel is more cooling and nurturing. Starting on the right side and accessed from the right nostril is the Pingala nadi. This solar side is more warming and stimulating.
At any given time, one nostril is breathing stronger than the other but throughout the day, they switch. Individuals, however, might maintain a more dominant nostril that takes in more air throughout the day. Which nostril is breathing heavier for you right now?
This exercise is designed to bring the nostrils, and thus the nadis, into balance. Begin by taking a few deep breaths through both nostrils. Bring the second and third fingers to rest between the eye brows. Plug the right nostril with the thumb as you inhale through the left nostril. At the top of the inhale, switch. Plug the left nostril with the inside of the fourth finger to open and exhale through the right. Stay there and inhale through the right. Again, switch to plug the right and breath out through the left. This is one round. Continue for three to five minutes, trying to even out the inhales and exhales. It might be helpful to count to four each time you breath in and out. Once you’ve finished the exercise, sit and take a few deep breaths through both nostrils and take note of how you feel.
Here is a 15-minute sequence to help find a sense of balance and ease this month. The video below is sped up so please use for reference of poses only. Use the written out sequence below for detailed instructions of poses and length of time to spend in each pose.
September Reset Yoga Sequence
1. Easy Cross-Legged Pose (Sukhasana)
Start seated in an Easy Cross-Legged position. Feel the weight of your body on the ground. Allow yourself to be supported. From here, you can invite movement into the neck and shoulders, whatever areas in your body feel like they need a little attention. Try to move with your breath – inhale to lift and exhale to lower. Be creative! Take 5 deep breaths in and out to begin your practice.
2. Forward Fold
From the hips, begin to tip your spine forward. Once your hips have rotated as forward as they will go, allow your spine to curve and the top of your head to become heavy. Forward folds are nurturing postures that bring the focus back onto our self. Close your eyes and breath into the backs of your lunges. Stay for 5 breaths and inhale to slowly sit back up. Switch the cross of your legs, bringing whichever shin was behind to now be in front. Again, fold forward and stay for 5 breaths.
3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Come into Downward Facing Dog. Bend your knees and press into your feet and hands. Lift your tailbone to the sky and try to find greater length through your spine. From here, invite any moments that might feel good – walking through the heels, shaking the hips or shoulders. Again, allow yourself to explore the sensations in your body. Stay for 10 breaths.
4. forward fold (Uttanasana)
Walk your feet to your hands and keep them about hips width distance. Just like seated, initiate the fold from the hips but then allow the spine to round fully into Standing Forward Fold. The top of the head can hang and feel free to swing side to side. Allow gravity to pull on the spine and find a stretch through the whole back body. Stay for 5-10 breaths. To come out, press into both feet equally and use the strength in your legs to stand. With the heart over the head, down dog and standing forward fold are inversions. As you exit the pose, enjoy the feeling of fresh blood nourishing your brain.
5. Extended mountain pose (Utthita Hastasana)
Inhale to raise both arms overhead. Interlace the fingers and press the palms to the sky. Feel this reach coming from the outside of the armpits and shoulder blades. Keep reaching for 3 breaths. As you exhale, press more firmly into the right foot and the hips gently sway to the left. Open up the left side body as you arch to the right. Roll the right shoulder forward slightly as you look up past your left armpit. Inhale through center and repeat bending to the left to stretch the whole right side. Repeat 3 times each side.
6. tree pose (Vrkasana)
As the leaves start to change, Tree Pose give us the chance to find balance and connect to what’s going on around us. Shift your weight into your left foot. Externally rotate your right hip and begin to open your right knee to the top right corner of your mat. Rest your right heel on the inside of your left ankle with the right toes still on the ground. Draw in the left hip to engage the standing leg. Take a breath or two to prepare your body, breath and mind. Stay here, or bring the sole of the right foot to the inside of the left calf or inner thigh. Hands can come to Anjali mudra (palms together at the center of the chest) or reach over head. For a challenge, close your eyes. Balance is all about play so allow your standing foot to move and adjust. If you fall, try again! Slowly and with control, exhale back to standing. Repeat by balancing on the right leg.
7. Child's pose (Balasana)
You can move through a sun salute or simply bring yourself to the floor. On your shins, bring your big toes to touch and your knees wider than hip’s width to sink into Child’s Pose. Bring your forehead to the mat and arms stretched overhead. Pressure on this spot, the third eye and 6thchakra, connects us to the innate wisdom that lives in our body. As you stay here for 10 breaths, acknowledge how you feel. Listen to what your body is saying. Perhaps you want to incorporate a couple other favorite postures or movements before closing.
8. Supine Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
Roll onto your back. Hug both knees into your chest. On an exhale, allow the knees to fall to the right. The right hand can rest on the knees as the left hand reaches out to the side. The head and neck can turn and look past the left fingers or eyes can close. Stay for 5 breaths on each side. As the spine is twisted, the lunges are slightly compressed. Make these breaths deeper into the low belly and feel the belly button press into your shirt. Inhale the knees back to center and exhale over the left.
9. corpse pose (Savasana)
Lay flat down on your back in Corpse Pose. Allow every muscle in your body to relax and release. In a home practice, finding this closing moment can be difficult as the mind starts to move onto the next thing on the agenda. Take three deep breaths and thank yourself for finding the time in your changing schedule to practice. As you come back to the rest of your day, be proud of what you’ve achieved and look forward to continuing the work tomorrow.
Enjoy this time of transition. As you set off on a new adventure or continue with one you’ve already started, allow yourself the time and space to adjust and resettle.