The Yoga of Emptying a Dishwasher

Yoga can be defined as union. I love the feeling when I have a sense of harmony, and wholeness. My body, my mind and my energy are moving at the same speed and toward the same purpose. I am connected directly to my focus or my purpose.

Sometimes my purpose is to empty the dishwasher. :/

If you hang around my house, you might hear me lament loudly about my dishwasher and kitchen duties. These duties often appear to be endless. I have a small European style dishwashing machine, and I seem to be standing over this appliance much of the day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for this little miracle machine that makes my plates sparkle! I am completely aware that this is a first world problem. My reaction of frustration rightly proves that I am not always in the state of yoga.

The state of yoga allows us to cope and thrive through the ups and downs of life. When we are in the state of yoga, we let the external information come into our mind and consciousness but it does not consume us. When we are in the state of yoga, we have right actions. When we are in the state of yoga there is an efficiency and lightness that wells up in us. One has focus. A soft kind of focus that can overcome disruption, and the usual and unusual happenings of life.

When yoga happens and I am emptying a dishwasher, I notice nothing else around me. The only experience I am having is between me and my sparkling cutlery. I am unconcerned with an email I need to send or even a piece of dirt on the floor. These thoughts float by me to be brought back at a later time. I direct the plates, cups and bowls to their homes in their shelves and drawers. Here is where is gets interesting. With a soft eye, I notice how the plates and cups and bowls are stacked and my body/mind/breath are connected and attentive. Without consciously thinking, my body chooses a specific hand to pick up plates and stack them gracefully knowing the mixing spoon can go in the other hand and then there is no juggling or extra steps to get them to their homes.

I love how much joy I take in this little flow or vinyasa of movement and how the dishes, spoons and pots all find their way back to their places in the most effortless way. When I am in this state, I notice the dishwasher is emptied faster and I am calmer. This chore is very different when I am not in the state of yoga. I am rushing, stomping and, dare I say, grumbling.  These times when I have something else on my mind – the experience is loud and inefficient.

I thought my “yoga of dishwashing” experience was something only I noticed. It so happened that I was hosting a visitors from overseas and she watched me while I cooked a breakfast for a house full of people. She said that she found it interesting to watch me work and she commented that no movement was wasted and each task was fluid and calm. The experience, she said, compared to watching a ballet and it was peaceful and efficient. We know it when we feel this, don’t we? Time flies by. We do not feel tired. She caught me on a good day. A day of yoga.

Being present can be heavy lifting but it is worth the practice. With this practice, we will be most efficient, most calm, and most happy. I invite you to watch yourself and others. Look for a connection. When you see it in others, you will feel calmer. When you focus on only the task in front at hand, you experience it yourself and you will feel more easeful and so will others around you. Start with the small things in your day. Focus on one thing and enjoy it. We are always pushing ourselves to work on the big stuff. Perhaps start with the small stuff like emptying the dishwasher, watering the plants, and grooming the dog to find that sweet connection.

Our yoga off the mat is the most important aspect of our practice. The little things add up. My wish is that you take time to cultivate and enjoy a time in yoga today.

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Kimberly Mantas

Find Kimberly at Mantasyoga.com. Kimberly is a certified yoga therapist, meditation and yoga teacher and teacher trainer. Contact Kimberly at Kimberly@mantasyoga.com

The Pandemic and my Unusual Turn Towards a Virtual Yoga Community

The pandemic is something I have been tentative to talk about. In part, it is because my feelings are all over the map. I feel there are many benefits to our forced lockdown with the shake up of our daily life patterns. However, I am also experiencing frustration and grief.

Prior to lockdown, I had started an online Nighty Night relaxation running on Monday nights. I loved that I was working from home and I was thrilled that the students were also all tucked in at their home to practice relaxation. I thought it was a brillant gift for all of us and the video was off. Then, all of a sudden we were locked down. All the students and private clients I had were behind walls that I could not access. Like many others, I felt the shock of working one day and then not working at all. The purpose for my day changed dramatically. We were trying to figure out how to get groceries delivered and we spent time checking on friends and loved ones. Something was missing for me. There was a hole and it turns out my friends and students felt the same. We gathered slowly and I was reunited with students from many years past and it felt purposeful on both sides.  It is has continued and developed since those dark days of March.

When my Mom went into lockdown into a small room, I told her that I would do accessible chair yoga with her. She asked, “just for me”? I then thought how I could open this up to anyone who wants to join in. All levels of students love the benefits of the chair practice and now I get to help my Mom and see her more. That would definitely not occurred without the crazy pandemic. That is an example of the small bits of light in the darkness we are experiencing.

Fast forward to September 2020. I have 1 to 4 classes running daily from Monday to Friday with morning and evening classes and private yoga therapy in the afternoons. I am finally and happily recording practices for use by my students. I am also hosting training and series all virtually through Beyond Yoga in Ottawa who, in March, along with pioneering students were brave to go ahead with a weekend training at the beginning of the lockdown.

Here is the unusual turn. I have extreme reservations and shyness of cameras and recordings and I have always preferred to be behind a camera. Whenever asked to contribute online, I have politely declined. The severe landscape the pandemic has produced has brought me out from hiding behind the camera to now spending much of my day communicating on video. What has made me face this fear? Why did I do it?

It is community.

It is sharing.

It is helping.

In fact, I think it goes even far beyond the drive for community and I am still contemplating the deeper reasons for these drives and changes in me. Am I still uncomfortable on video. Yes I am, however, yoga is a lifeline for many of us and I feel I must contribute. Students continue to let me know the availability to practice yoga, meditation and one yoga therapy sessions virtually is vital to their physical and emotional well being.

As much as I need community, my students desire community too. After class, students chat and show pictures of their experiences, they check in on each other and they tell stories. People from different countries look forward to seeing each other, hearing about their days and seeing their animals. It is connection and caring. As I write this, it makes my eyes moist and my heart swell. Some of the students are spending more time out in the community (safely masked of course) and others are spending time very close to home but all can come together for our virtual practice. Our little group has donated over $2000 to our local food cupboard and I have even been offered a loan of canoe so I can get out in nature because they know I am keeping relatively isolated. The kindness, caring and the laughter make me joyful. We need this at all times but we certainly notice its benefits in these tough times. So we have the community, but what about the yoga?

There are so many online yoga videos. You can get a ton of practice hours for free. That’s great, isn’t it? There certainly is a place for it, however it is not a community. I had a few people say that you should get tons of students so you can make more money. Granted, I would like a little more money and a few more students, but first and foremost, I want to know my students. I want them to be able to ask questions and I want to give them options for their practice. I want their yoga practice to help make their lives off better. I don’t care if they can touch their toes. I want them to be their truest selves. I wish for their desires to come to pass. Also, I want to know if they have a injury or they are feeling stress during a meditation practice. A community and a teacher is a support and it is important. Sangha is a term used in yoga that translates to community. We are a community. Learning, sharing and caring.

So how did I get here? From my drive to help, to share, and to be in community. I am happy. My drive for community is greater than my fear of video. We humans are certainly interesting aren’t we!? I can’t believe it took a pandemic and I am grateful for all the teachers, friends, family and students that are my community.

See you soon!

Kimberly

A practice of Patience

Take a moment. Consider how patience feels in your body. Now consider how impatience feels. The difference is incredible. What does too much patience feels like. A little stagnant for sure. The question is how do we move toward balance. This also begs the question that when we feel passion or want to act against injustice, can this be done from a place of patience. One might think that patience means a lack of urgency or importance. Could patience allow for the perseverance to move toward righting injustice?

Patience is defined in the Webster dictionary as “to manifest forbearance under provocation or strain: not hasty or impetuous: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity, and bearing pains or trial calmly or without complaint.”

I struggle with some of this definition but the term that resonates with me is steadfast. Patience certainly is not a practice of non engagement or being passive. One can be in control and steadfast, with purpose and stay in the present moment. Perhaps it would look like taking the time to listen and consider the thoughts and ideas of others, taking the time to express your ideas and wonders and taking the long game towards relationships, personal goals and societal injustices.

More often than not, my mind moves beyond the current moment and it recalls and interprets both consciously and unconsciously the past or forecasts the future. In other words, my mind gets in the way. Consider, when we feel like we have something figured out or we dismiss what we don’t understand. Active listening can be tenuous when patience is out of balance in either direction. When I become quiet and present, I understand that my current abundance or lack of patience comes from several well honed drives and reinforced behaviours. Like a mountain appearing before me, making the changes I desire seems more arduous and multi fasciated. This climb is not without reward.

In yoga, we have a concept called the kleshas and it is defined as an obstacle or an affliction.  Firstly, we have the hurdle that yogis would call incorrect understanding or comprehension. How often do we know for certain that we have reasoned correctly and our perception is without error. We might also feel all other interpretations are flawed at worst or not fully formed at best. One could think of our understanding as illusion. Consider too the ego mind and the many past experiences that have provided each of us with deep patterns of expectation and automatic reaction felt emotionally and physically. Finally, consider that we are unconsciously making decisions toward experiences of pleasure and we are repelled by suffering and unpleasantness.

How do we look to remove these unconscious obstacles? In yoga, we have the practice of focusing the mind. This practice could be meditation and it could also be the active practice active listening, and mindful movement to name a few. Here we learn the skill of being present and that the feelings both good and bad always come and always go.

Only practice leads to new skills. The skills of being present are simple to practice however it does take steadfastness and constant practice to develop patience. Practicing patience to increase patience. Curious isn’t it! Well not so much.

Being present is being patient. Can one be patient and act in the world? It would be the most steadfast, respectful, productive, and self honouring way to do so. This is the mountain and I have some thinking and climbing to do.

Becoming more You – Riding the waves of change

I’m happy you are here! Building the capacity for inquiry is important for our positive evolution. We must learn to discern, evaluate and adapt our yoga and life practices to serve our current needs.

Yoga is a personal experiential practice to me, and my practice is woven within me in a way that brings a comfort that I would find hard to explain. Yoga is personal but it isn’t necessarily solitary. The many beautiful souls and wise people I learn and evolve from, the shared conversations and practices and the time spent in community all make my journey such a joy and a gift. My teachers, students, family and friends all make up my experience where I explore how to become more “me”. I am thankful that you all hold me in your sphere of influence and allow me to learn, grow, question, succeed and fail. If I want to make changes and I am unsure how to proceed I speak with my teachers, my friends and other professionals. I look to make the best decision in the moment, and I endeavor not to “put up” with a lack of function or a physical or emotional difficulty. I want to build new positive patterns.

Do I fail? Yes, I mostly fail, but with each effort I make I am building successful patterns.

Yoga and Ayurveda tell us that everything that is manifest is in transition. The seasons change, our body makeup changes, our mind and thought processes develop and decline. So, if this is the case, why would we keep our practice the same season to season and decade to decade. If we are always changing, then what is best for us is also changing. Then we must try to be aware and in the present to help us make the best decisions and to adapt and grow. Don’t get me wrong, we must have a sustained regular yoga and meditation practice, but we must also evolve with our changing needs. Jumping from idea to idea isn’t a great or productive tactic and it will not serve to help us develop efficiently. That is why during the change of seasons, it is a natural place for me to take a pause and make small thoughtful changes.

I am always evaluating what might be best for me, but during these natural transitions, I take time to evaluate my practice to help me serve my higher purpose and improve my lived experience. I have many considerations I think about to help me evaluate.

As an example, I consider some of the following. You can also take some time to consider your answers to these questions and how your practice on and off the mat is helping you enjoy and manage the ups and downs of your life?

Do I:

-recover and stay balanced with the joys and the sorrows of life?

-have an injury that is not healing?

-feel like I am going in the same circle?

-feel inspired and joyful?

-sleep well?

-generally feel sluggish, or restless?

-feel my body is feeling energetic and without discomfort?

-startle easily or do I feel numb?

-have a good digestion process?

And:

-How is my relationship with myself?

-How are my relationships with others?

-Is there an activity or experience that I would like to do that you can’t do now?

The many practices of yoga are there to help us improve our lived experience. For me, I allow myself to rest in a quiet space and to see how I am truly feeling. Then I make changes to my practice. The considerations I make are not just the change of the seasons but for everything that is happening in my life. Sometimes I get things right and sometimes wrong, but I always make a conscious effort to continue to be patient with myself and others as I navigate becoming the most fulfilled and at ease in my skin that I can be.

One small piece of this change is how our personal doshic makeups and experiences are affected by the seasons. We are moving into Vata season (fall and winter) and this is where we look to counteract or balance the drying effects of the Vata time of year. I make some small changes such as changing my diet from fresh salads to warming soups and stews, and the root vegetables that are in season. I make sure I practice nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breath to balance my bodies and mind making me feel more less scattered and safer.  I incorporate warm oils in and on the body make me feel less achy and dry.

There might be changes you have made that have served you well. You intuitively knew what you needed. Take some time to consider what you need. Consider this statement in a heartfelt way and away from the cognitive process of the mind. You are looking for your ego to not be involved.

Take a moment in quiet meditation where you can rest in the space of acceptance and perfection. There, your most inner needs will unfold. Remember to listen.

Thriving through the kapha time of year

Spring sows a sense of renewal within us. At this time we become acutely aware of the feeling deep within ourselves to move our bodies and to cleanse all that has accumulated through winter.

Kapha season is defined by moisture, softness, and denseness. The earth is awakening. This is the unctuousness of the earth brings growth and transformation. These qualities are needed. However, the qualities that are naturally presiding in kapha can present challenges for the individual if we are not in balance. We must be mindful not to encourage through lifestyle choices that enforce the qualities of kapha such as heaviness, dampness, and congestion.

Often at during the kapha season we take the time to cleanse the body. Just as the earth is becoming soft and moving, so is our bodies and minds. During the kapha time of year there is a tendency toward congestion, runny noses, and colds. Those who are kapha dominant can struggle to maintain balance at this time of year. Consider if you are in balance within your own doshic constitution before making any large changes to work with the seasonal considerations.

Generally, in spring we look to move away from eating warm, heavy stews and consider lighter, cleansing choices for meals and snacks. My friends, my students and I have talked about how we often feel hungry in spring. The need to feel satisfied and content is a hallmark of kapha. We must listen to our bodies and choose to nourish ourselves differently. I include dandelion tea in my diet during spring which is very cleansing and also wonderful for pitta constitutions. Ayurvedic doctor and teacher Dr. V. Lad recommends avoiding dairy and cold drinks and to incorporate legumes, ginger, cinnamon, spinach, honey and spices. The spices should only be incorporated if they can be tolerated within your constitutional makeup as hot spices are agitating to vata and pitta dosha constitutions. Too much oil is Kapha promoting, ghee or clarified butter can be used instead. Light meats are suitable but heavy dark meats and seafood should be avoided as they are heavy on the system.

The kapha season is a time of renewal, to clear away stagnation and to sow the seeds to move into the growth and focus of purpose in the summer. Kapha must have stable nutrients for health to be maintained through the hot, focused, and intense time of the summer. Without a foundation of support and unctuousness from spring, we could feel frazzled and irritated when the demands of the heat of summer are upon us.

Beyond food we can support ourselves through this season by incorporating physical movement and activity. Without the heat of the pitta season, now it the time to find ways to move. I am a proponent of finding something you love to do that is suitable to your health abilities. It could be dancing, cycling, swimming, or hiking. Check with your physician if you plan to start something new. If you love your yoga practice, consider warrior poses, back bends and lateral movements. This is the time to also enjoy a beautiful sun salute practice and long strong holds in your poses. Breath practices needed for this season are cleansing in nature. Consider Kapalabhati or bhastrika breath. Both are cleansing and promote a sense of lightness to the body and mind. You can also consider a hasta mudra or hand mudras which balance that heavy downward movement.

Being mindful is key. Notice what you are feeling in the moment and if you are choosing food, activities and thoughts that increase the heaviness you desire due to the time of year. Take pause and see if you can lighten your meal and move your body to stoke the fire to decrease congestion and the feelings of stagnation in the body and mind.

Winter Yoga Offerings

I am grateful to be teaching several interesting yoga workshops and series this winter and we have some dates and space to hold a community meditation class for charity. These will happen once per month. Please bring a donation for our local Beyond Yoga charities.  Check out what is organized to date.

I am going to have a wonderful winter! Come join me.

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Recipe -The Art of Less Cinnamon Sweet Potato Soup

The cat is out of the bag. I love sweet potato. I realized the last recipe post I put up was also sweet potato based. While the last soup was spicy and warm, this version is calming and satisfying. It is also even more simple to make with fewer ingredients.

I appreciate simple flavours. We tend to over complicate our food – we feel the need to make it “fancy”. More and more, I like uncomplicated cooking and flavours.

I have come to realize that while I don’t dislike cooking, it is not the highest on my list of my preferred things to do. I prefer hanging out with people, being outside, exploring yoga, teaching yoga, travelling, working with wool and a whole host of other things before I enjoy cooking. I do like the result of cooking and I am always happy when I have made something tasty, and healthy.  In yoga, I am always looking for efficiency for myself and my students. This recipe ticks those boxes.

In this recipe, paprika is the little gem and it is based on a a couple of different recipes that I had found and amended. I use my pressure cooker, which I would highly recommend but the soup can just as easily be made on the stovetop with a little extra time.

As always, there are some options for this recipe. I prefer it with chicken stock but it is just as good with veggie stock or even water. I have also made it without garlic and it was still lovely. However, if I were to make it with water again, I would add more oil/ghee and paprika and perhaps some turmeric. In the spirit of keeping it simple here, is the recipe.

Simple Cinnamon Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients

1 Medium Onion (chopped)
3 to 4 Medium to Large Sweet Potatoes (cubed)
1 clove of Garlic (chopped)
2 tbl. Oil (olive, coconut, ghee)
1 teaspoon of Salt (dependent on the stock – less with high sodium stock)
Pepper to taste
4 cups (give or take) broth (chicken, veggie) or water
1/2 teaspoon (rounded) Cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon Paprika

Directions

Heat oil in pot or pressure cooker. Add onions and heat until the onions are translucent. Next, stir in garlic. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cinnamon and paprika. Stir and cook for another minute. Add sweet potatoes, and the broth.  Typically the broth will just cover the sweet potatoes.

Heat under pressure for about 20 minutes. If you are using the stovetop it will take about 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Boil until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked and slightly cooled. Use a wand, food processor or blender until the soup is creamy.

Garnish with a bit of ground cinnamon. Enjoy.

The Yoga of Being

 We spend our days doing, doing and well, doing some more.  We are champs at achievement and of accomplishment. We give ourselves permission and reward others for blind effort and society rewards us for breakneck speed and achievement regardless of the costs. In yoga, we often hear that we are human “beings” not human “doings”. This is where the concepts of yoga brilliantly provides us with perspective.

In yoga, there is the concept of Abhyasa. This translates to practice or effort. This term is seen in the sutra texts of Patanjali starting at Sutra 1.12.  Patanjali further defines the qualities of practice where the practice must be sustained for a long time with devotion, or the appreciation of the benefit. Sound reasonable? If you are looking for change this is the way to do it. Where then is the balance to check the rajasic striving, the do anything beyond all costs type of effort which most of us subscribe to or perhaps the only way we know? Patanjali couples Abhyasa with the concept of Vairagya. Vairagya is a practice of non-attachment.

Practice and non-attachment are a marriage of sorts; a beautiful balancing of effort and release.  The union and juxtaposition of these concepts will forever intrigue me. It has a push and pull, a tension that makes me curious and at the same time both comfortable and ill at ease. After being introduced, studying and practicing the concepts of Abhyasa and Vairagya, my competitive athlete brain was utterly mystified by the concept of non-attachment in the face of effort and striving with any kind of success. And after years of practice, I have experienced the benefits. I find comfort in Vairagya, yet there are many times, I confess, when the finer details of non-attachment elude me.

The working title of this article was originally The Yoga of Doing Nothing, since most people believe that non-attachment is the opposite of doing something.  I thought it was catchy, but it was also wholly inaccurate as non-attachment is a very active practice. So I ditched it. While most agree that non-attachment is yogic and also a “good thing”, as Martha Stewart would say, we are inundated and encouraged with the opposite. We are attached to our outcomes and our successes, and we are especially attached to failure and the possibility of failure. So much so that we might not even begin the “practice”. Perhaps cultivating non-attachment would also help us tear down the walls of our perceived abilities.

I recall watching Olympic coverage on television where the U.S. ski athletes were talking about how they trusted in their ski training program. They added that they had faith that practice would bring them to their peak performance. They also noted how trust in their training plan allowed them to enjoy the experience. More importantly, they felt they were at their best when they did not be worry about the results. The U.S. ski team had a very yogic thinking approach to their coaching. Perhaps that is why they were so successful. This is the practice of Abyhasa and Vairagya. I recall my joy for the athletes experience, considering how hard it is to compete at that level.

When you look at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, etc. we see posts that encourage achievement. Even in yoga, we see individuals pictured in social media, in crazy poses, with retweets and accolades that come from the awe of these achievements. We all get swept up in the hype and begin to find ourselves competing with others both on and off the yoga mat. We relish the praise we receive for the number of hours we worked, the fact that we did a 15 minute headstand. This is not unlike the praise we receive when we proudly say we can work with little sleep.

This only encourages further one dimensional striving and less awareness. For those who engage in seemingly inhuman yoga poses, we cannot tell if their life is happier for achieving this feat, or even if they were injured doing this. I, for one, would love to see more experiences of “being” in the yoga world and media, but this doesn’t seem to capture the public as a whole. I am open to finding ways to do this and will support all means to this end.

Imagine, the brilliance of the experience, whether it is a yoga pose, a meditation, making dinner or doing volunteer work with greater awareness of journey and the non-attachment of the outcomes. The gem is being unattached to the accolades and being of aware of our inner life. What would happen if we did the work but were unattached to the outcome, praise, and criticism associated with the goal?

I have a disclaimer that practicing non-attachment is not for the faint of heart, and this introduction is intended only to let your toe dip into the big pool of the concept of Vairagya. Vairagya has many layers. A good place to start to explore this concept is in savasana. The side benefit of exploring in savasana is the restorative and healing benefits that comes from this active adventure in non-attachment.

Savasana as an opportunity to explore non-attachment

For 20 minutes each day find time to practice letting go, and explore the concept of non-attachment. Position yourself lying comfortably on your back. Ensure you are well supported, warm and place your head shoulders and hips on the same level. Lessen any physical discomfort with the use of props, such as blankets and rolls. It is important that you feel well supported.

Once comfortable, close your eyes. As you move from seeing to not seeing, notice your awareness changing. One of the senses now is withdrawn. Let the mind rest within the body and breath. This is where we look to be the “human being” and not the “human doing”. Take a few minutes to allow your body to settle. You can actively be aware of tight areas and take the time to let them settle into the support you have provided yourself.

Next take your attention back to your breath. You may notice that you want to change the breath. Be curious. You may feel the need to adjust, or even feel emotionally uncomfortable with the breath. That need to judge and to change is in each of us. This is where we begin our practice of non-attachment.

At this point, we often automatically look to control the breath, to force it to what we think is correct. We consider making it longer, employing the belly breath, or the 3 part breath, grasping to remember what the last yoga teacher said. We want to control the breath and the body to what we perceive as correct or right. Here is your turning point. Consider doing less. Consider not being attached to a technique. Consider just being.

Become an explorer, as curious watcher of the body and breath. You have no stakes in the results; you are unattached to what you need or expect. With each need to change or judgement of your experience that comes up, you let go of it and again you bring the mind back to becoming a humble witness.

As we practice non-attachment and letting go, we slowly become aware of all the layers of fluctuations. We are cognizant of all the holding in the body, mind and breath.  Some of these sensations might be familiar or foreign to us. Continue not to change or attach judgement to the awareness. Continue to come back to being, not doing or judging.

The beginning practice in Vairagya is powerful. Permit yourself to take some time each day to not be attached to the sensations or thoughts, or the outcomes of the practice. Enjoy!

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Kimberly Mantas lives and works out of Ottawa, Canada. She is a Yoga Therapist, Meditation and Hatha Yoga Teacher with Mantas Yoga and loves to hang out at Blue Bamboo Yoga and Beyond Yoga and her health partners. She thinks yoga therapy rocks and is an always curious sort – ever excited when people get to know their bodies and minds better.

Less Stress in Fall with Yoga and Ayurveda

The change in seasons has a profound effect on our systems. Fall, for many, often seems particularly harsh. Fall is a vata time of year according to Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) and several of the many qualities of vata are the qualities of wind, dark, dry and cold. More than any other season, fall is where I notice a change in me, my students and my clients.

Here in eastern Canada we have yet to see the true fall chill, or the winds, but we have certainly felt the effects of the busy schedule and the effect of rising and having dinner in the dark. We might see the sun if we can get away from our desk during the day. In the fall, we start back to school, and our traditional work schedules fall back into place. We are all well immersed in our volunteer work, activities, sports, family support demands, appointments, work trips, and we crave to fit in some plain old pleasure. The summer is now simply beautiful memories and photos.

Starting in September the family finds itself going all different directions. And while thrilled with the new and interesting activities, the consensus remains that it is darn busy. For many fall is a favourite time of year. It has beauty and the joy of crisp refreshing air, the beautiful colours, cosy sweaters and cups of steaming hot tea. Amidst this joy we find ourselves fighting the effects of so much activity, darkness, winds, and dryness.

I notice these changes in myself. I start to crave soups and I have a natural desire to do more grounding meditations. I have learned over the years to put some things off until later in the fall or winter to distribute the amount of things I am doing. I am slowly learning that “no” and “later” are great words for this season (no, this isn’t my very robust procrastination abilities speaking.) I am busier and I have to find ways not to add on to the controlled chaos.

I see the effects in my students. The meditators seem more anxious, the minds much more unwieldy than in the summer. Many of my yoga therapy clients can be more achy, and restless. Even the clients with the best outlooks can become easily frustrated and overwhelmed. The group classes are just plain chatty. It is a joy to see them all tucked into savasana, warm and balanced after a practice.

Here is where the concepts used in Yoga and Ayurveda can come to our rescue. Ayurveda very much considers taking the seasons into consideration and that our choices can help us balance our system. For our physical practice we can look to have grounding practices – think forward folds, balancing postures and poses like parsvotanasana and grounding a child’s pose and legs up the wall. For breath work consider Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breath and a breath that has the same length of inhale and exhale. These will help with keeping yourself feeling balanced and calm. Remember, inside and out, warm and oily is good. Warm baths, steam and using warm sesame oil on the body will help warm, balance and ground you. With respect to vata soothing foods, think warm proteins and vegetables with fats and spices. At this time of year cooking your vegetables helps with effects of vata. You can get back those crisp salads in the summer.

Instead of fighting your way through the Fall “vata” season, meet it joyfully with some simple tools and techniques from Yoga and Ayurveda.

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Kimberly Mantas lives and works out of Ottawa, Canada. She is a Yoga Therapist, Meditation and Hatha Yoga Teacher with Mantas Yoga and loves to hang out at Blue Bamboo Yoga and Beyond Yoga and her health partners. She thinks yoga therapy rocks and is an always curious sort – ever excited when people get to know their bodies and minds better.

Yoga Therapy, Meditation, Restorative and Hatha Yoga