Here on the west coast of Canada, most people would probably agree that much of this summer felt like fall. Constantly changing weather led many to feel ungrounded, anxious and just “a little off.” We generally accept that our lives are constantly changing and yet many of us still get uncomfortable with the uncertainty that brings. Check in with your body. Do you feel relaxed or tense when you read the word “change”?
When I was a child, my grandmother would say to me, “Everything you need to know, you will learn by watching the garden.” Of course, at the time, I just thought she was a wonderful, crazy lady with an obsession for plants. I didn’t know what she meant. It is only in recent years having discovered my passions for both yoga and gardening that it did start to make sense.
The garden is essentially a yoga mat. Every single time we step into a garden or onto our mats, it is a new and different experience. Observing a garden at each of the four seasons will offer a dramatic example of change. However, looking deeper at the garden on a daily basis, perhaps several times a day, truly paying attention to even the minutia of the garden and how it transitions, will provide tremendous insight. To those of us who feel uncomfortable with change it offers valuable grounding.
It is not only a garden that may provide the benefit of insight gained through observation. Your yoga mat, a local park, woods, a tree outside on the street or even houseplants allow for the absorption of grounding energy. Just as we connect with the earth when we come onto our yoga mat, we can find that connection by placing our hands in or on the earth, kneeling, squatting or standing (preferably barefoot) on the grass or bare earth. Such actions allow the element of earth to be transferred into our energetic systems to counterbalance the air element which is prevalent during fall-like conditions. Placing your hands on a tree, and even hugging it if you so desire, will give you access to the depths of its root system, bringing you “back down to earth” once more.
As we move deeper into fall, the Vata Dosha (air or ether element) becomes increasingly apparent. The imparting of this grounding energy becomes more important in order to keep ourselves healthy and more readily equipped to handle changes, big or small. Observing Vata at play in the garden or in nature bestows copious opportunity for self-study and reflection, as it is responsible for movement and the breaking down of many of the plants and the shedding of the leaves. First watching the vibrant fall colours, indicating the recent peak of their summer (or above ground) growth, then the shedding of all that will no longer serve them as they turn their attention to their roots and growing beneath the surface for fall/winter. Watching the plants as they return to the ground, saving resources to come up anew in the Spring and often with greater growth is a reflection of our own yoga practice.
As we are intricately connected with the cycles of nature, observing and respecting what is taking place around us means that we are better able to honour our natural state of balance by flowing with nature rather than against it.
“Ecology and spirituality are fundamentally connected, because deep ecological awareness, ultimately, is spiritual awareness.” (Fritjov Capra)