By Heather Lindemann
The realities of living in our modern culture can often impose a quick pace that is focused on “doing.” From getting to the next meeting to answering e-mails or texts, to checking off items on the never-ending to-do list, it’s easy to get consumed by the forward-moving cadence of a “productive” life.
The natural flow of the seasons offers us another way to move through our day
While the to-do list might remain, we can also align our movement, intention, and practices with the energy of the seasons as a way to slow down and harmonize with the innate rhythms of Mother Nature. By connecting with the subtle energies of the Earth, we create a flow in our daily lives that boosts our innate superpowers and fosters ease and a sense of calm within our busy and over-scheduled lives.
Alignment to the seasonal flow isn’t a new concept. Ancient cultures prayed, celebrated, worshiped, and built monuments to synch with the summer and winter solstices as well as the fall and spring equinoxes. Thankfully, you don’t need to build a monument to feel into the qualities of each season. From your meditation or yoga practice to the foods you eat, Mother Nature provides us exactly what we need to be supported as the seasons cycle.
Here are a few ways you can draw on the lessons revealed to us by the seasonal flow:
- Autumn: As warmer days turn cooler, autumn offers us time to shed and let go. Just as trees dry their leaves then offer them to the Earth, autumn provides a sacred time for us to reflect and release. The autumn equinox, where day and night are equal, is the perfect touch point to acknowledge imbalances in your life and release what no longer needs to be held. Denser foods, like apples and squashes, give us the grounding we might need during this season, which is connected to the element of air. Autumn is a beautiful time to practice meditations that create space along with slower yoga practices like Yin yoga that still might bring a little warmth to the body but allow you to remain close to the Earth.
- Winter: Shorter days, longer nights and coolness in the air is nature’s cue for us to slow down. Winter is the perfect time to go inward, contemplate, and consider the seeds of intention or new beginnings you may want to plant in the spaces left behind by your autumn practice of shedding. The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, a potent milestone for resetting, renewing, and welcoming the coming light. Warm nourishing soups and teas with sweet, comforting spices like cinnamon and ginger balance winter’s chill. Consider practices such as Yoga Nidra or restorative yoga that will draw you inward and allow your body and mind space to simply rest.
- Spring: When tulips begin to peek their heads above the soil and a hint of warmth is in the air, we know spring, the season of new beginnings, has arrived. Those seeds you were beginning to germinate in winter can now be planted, nurtured, and cultivated. Like in the autumn, the spring equinox is the time when light and dark are in balance. But in spring, we focus more on calling in what we need to allow our seeds of intention to grow. Consider foods that wake-up your palate like dandelion greens rubbed with sunflower oil, fresh sprouts, or bitter melon. This is also the perfect time for intention setting and breath balancing practices like nadi shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing). Adding gentle, flowing movement to your day, like a simple yoga flow class or Tai Chi can welcome the essence of spring into your body.
- Summer: The warmth of summer is the perfect time for enjoying the outdoors and bringing in a bit of play! Try something new, embark on a spontaneous adventure, or simply walk barefoot on the Earth. The summer solstice is a time of bounty and fertility that asks us to welcome in the light as we begin to turn toward shorter days. Summer also offers an abundance of cooling foods to balance the warmth. Incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables such as cucumber, mint, strawberries, mangos, or summer squash into your meals will bring in a fresh, bright quality (hint: just see what’s available at your local farmer’s market!). Try slightly more active practices but earlier in the day, like a sunrise hike or morning yoga flow.
Consider the cycle of the seasons as a guide for making subtle shifts in your routines and practices always with a sense of gentleness. Your greatest tool for tapping into the wisdom of the seasons is your own intuition. As you feel a seasonal change arriving, ask your body and spirit what it needs to be nourished and supported. And allowing Mother Nature to be the wise teacher she is for supporting you throughout the year.