Thursday, December 29, 2011

Autumn Harvest Practice

Crisp, crunchy leaves of red, gold, and pumpkin orange has been slowly falling off the trees that stand as sentinels around the hay field that is my backyard.  It is a blessing to have the space and privacy a Midwestern, rural backyard affords and I am thankful to exist here.  Welcome Fall!!

A great aspect of home, personal practice is the creative way you can include your environment and invite nature into your asana and meditation.  In this offering, I invite you to connect directly with autumn by practicing with a tree for 4 weeks.

If you haven’t tried this before, autumn is a fantastic starting point.  Try taking your mat (or just bare feet!) and find a tree.  Commit to coming to this spot once a week for 4 weeks.  Set up your mat towards the tree as if it was your teacher.  To center in, take a few rounds of breath.  Breathe in a little more than you think you can and press out the breath a little longer than you think you can.  Notice your enhanced awareness and use it to study the tree.

Notice all the nuances of the tree, practicing dharana (one-pointed focus).  See the bark, the bugs, the sticks and stems, see everything in detail and then all at once too.  Can you see the microcosm and the macrocosm at the same time?  Listen closely to the natural sounds of the tree as well.

Be attentive.

After this meditation, bring yourself through a series of your own personal practice poses and culminate in Vrksasana (Tree Pose).  Depending on your time and your needs, this can be any style you wish and for as long or as short as you desire.  Once you peak to Vrksasana, see if you can embody the tree in front of you.  Allow movement as the tree moves, merge with its essence.  Allow a long hold, but release before the point of strain or forceful gripping.

Yoga asanas are a reflection of deep meditation and joining with the forces of nature in our material world.  This connection allows us a path to Samadhi (union with the divine)and a way to reflect on what is true, for in nature, everything is perfect and in balance.  We can bring this essence in to ourselves and clear our inner disturbances.

I ask you to try this for 4 weeks because of the incredible changes you see in the autumn with trees.  Try to journal about your experience and allow your creativity to bubble and be inspired by fall.  Please feel free to share your experience in this space.

As you undertake this practice, I offer a YogiTunes playlist for your indoor practice of yoga music to inspire your autumn asana or relaxation practice at home or in the studio.  Enjoy!!!

-Written by Kirsten Hedden, who teaches at Namaste Wellness Studio in Peoria, IL

-Check out her new 'Harvest Playlist' on YogiTunes!

-Also for a delicious selection of Nature rich soundscapes, check out the YogiTunes Nature section

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