Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.
– Albert Camus
Autumn brings a promise of harvest, bounty and colour. For sun-seekers and summer-lovers, this seasonal shift can mark the slow slide towards winter days and long nights. For some of us it can feel cold and dreary as we mourn summer’s end.
Whilst it’s important not to underestimate the effects that the changing seasons can have on mind and body, remember that with every ending, something new begins. We can try to find beauty in all the seasons – even if this one isn’t your favourite – as the wheel keeps turning, and we find ourselves in the next season of our life.
If you find beauty in the change of seasons, then Autumn surely has much to recommend it. There are sunset hues, rich foliage, colours and textures all to be enjoyed with a crisp chill in the air (and hopefully not too much rain and cold.) The September full moon is known as the Harvest Moon; its beautiful golden glow illuminating the ground allowing more time to gather in the harvest. Leaves will drop, providing a crunchy topping to weekend walks, and seeds will be tucked away, to sleep until spring.
In nature, now is the time for rest and stillness, and there can be nourishment and joy in doing the same. Here are some self-care tips to get you started.
An Ayurvedic treatment that involves massaging warm oil into your skin. It’s a warming, calming self-care ritual that can promote a sense of well-being. It can relieve tension, aching muscles, aid lymphatic drainage and moisturise the skin. Choose an oil that suits your skin type, as it can help to combat that dry feeling that can occur this time of year as you switch between colder outdoor temperatures into centrally-heated rooms.
Read more on the benefits of this Ayurvedic practice here.
Many of us have heard the benefits of dry brushing the skin – it’s another treat for dry, centrally-heated skin! Taking a loofah, or specially-made dry brush, use firm strokes to brush the skin upward, towards the heart. It’s intended to remove dead skin build up, improve circulation and skin tone. If it’s right for you, try it as part of your autumn skin care routine and see how it feels. This also works well alongside Abyhanga.
Adjusting your yoga practice is a great way to honour the shifting seasons. Stoke your own internal flame (agni) with hot yoga – fiery vinyasa or rocket classes which promise to turn up the heat. Or go for nurturing yin practices to allow your focus to turn inward toward stillness.
Journalling is a perfect exercise to do whilst wrapped up warm with a brew in hand. Note the things that you are most grateful for in your life. Identify the patterns, and shifts you want to make for the next phase and write your plans, goals and dreams for the days ahead.
Seek the (candle) light
Lighting candles is one of the simplest year-round indulgences, but on an autumnal evening, can create one of the cosiest joys of the season. Add a candle (or two) that evokes seasonal scents like pumpkin spice, cinnamon, cloves, or outdoor forest walks.
To make candles a part of your yoga practice, you could try Trataka. Trataka is a candle-gazing form of meditation thought to purify the eyes as well as the mind. Try it by gazing at a candle flame (or other small focus point) until the eyes begin to water. Read more about this practice here.
Another light source to consider as the days shorten is a Light Lamp. These devices mimic the effect of natural sunlight, to lessen the effects of seasonal affectivity disorder. These can be especially useful in the mornings for those who don’t like waking in the dark.
Cook seasonal foods, locally sourced if possible. Make use of root vegetables, gourds, stewed fruits and apples, which often symbolise harvest. Create a table-scape with autumnal flowers, herbs or a carved pumpkin centrepiece to get ahead of spooky season.
Try swapping your morning brew for a turmeric latte or ‘golden milk’ as it’s sometimes known. Harnessing the health benefits of turmeric, this warming drink with it’s rich yellow colour and fragrant cinnamon top is perfect for this time of year.
In times gone by, now would be the time to take stock of your harvest, and make stores to sustain you for the winter ahead. Our abundant access to food might mean this takes the form of a self-care practice of storing your energy, rather than a practical one… such as ensuring not to take on too much, and say ‘no’ where you need to. Allow yourself to preserve your energy and establish boundaries ahead of the busy festive season, and take inspiration from the animal kingdom, as they prepare cosy dwellings a rest more in this darker part of the year.