Autumn has arrived, and with it, I always feel the need to turn within to find balance between the lightness I felt during the warm summer days and the sudden desire to stay cozy and warm inside, as the temperatures cool outside.
Watching leaves float to the ground is a reminder that our lives are a mirror of nature’s cycles and that everything is in a state of impermanence. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that no longer serve us.
Finding balance in impermanence
As a yoga instructor, I always look forward to the homecoming that takes place in my yoga classes as those who have taken the summer off return to their yoga practice. I am filled with a sense of gratitude that they continue to share their love of yoga with me.
I also realize that, as with any long-term commitment, the truth of impermanence plays a part in the yoga practice. The weather affects our ability to make it to class, family matters come up, and kids bring coughs and colds home from school. Everything — including us humans — is in a constant state of change, and though that used to threaten my sense of order, it now excites me, as it allows my own practice to continue evolving.
So this autumn, I urge you to let go of the need for perfection. Let go of self judgment. Your yoga mat is a place to slow down, tune in, and simply be … here and now … in the present moment.
How to love the present
If the present is an uncomfortable place for you, start with love. Love yourself. Love yoga. Love your yoga mat. The way you love a spouse, partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend of many years — not because of some grandiose idea of their perfection, but because you know them completely, imperfections and all. Knowing they’ll be there to see you through the hard times, even if they also know just the right button to push to tick you off.
As you delve into this adventure, enjoy the journey with an open mind, allowing all thoughts and sensations to rise up and embracing all with an explorer’s inquisitiveness. Explore yoga, explore yourself.
As Rolf Gates says in Meditations from the Mat, “Bring your all to your mat: all your anger, all your joy, all your sadness and see where it goes. Let it transform you and open you up … knowing it will always be there, knowing it is an adventure waiting for you to explore.”
During this journey, it is important to take some time every day to find stillness and quiet. Slow down and contemplate what is coming up for you on the mat with compassionate awareness and curious investigation. Let go of what you need to let go of (the frustration you feel when you lose your balance, that secret competition you have with other students in your yoga class) and embrace all that is beautiful and meaningful with a sense of gratitude.
As with everything in life, our yoga practice is constantly changing and evolving. Embrace this, let go of the need for permanency, flow like water and see where you go.