Five Questions to Ask Yourself on the Fall Equinox

The fall equinox is a moment of perfect balance. We’re poised between seasons, with summer just behind us and winter yet to come. The hours of light and darkness are exactly the same—just as they are during the spring equinox on the opposite side of the year. “It’s a time of balance between two extremes,” says Micah Mortali, the Director of Outdoor Education and Programming at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the nation's leading yoga center in North America. 

This state of suspension is ideal for self-observation and reflection, says Micah, who is also and Dean and Founder of the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership. Bringing mindful awareness to this naturally occurring milestone—one of the four cardinal points in the year—opens a window for witnessing what’s happening both around and within us. Fall can also be a natural time to begin turning inward in preparation for winter, traditionally the season of rest and introspection.

With that in mind, here are five questions to ask yourself during the fall equinox.

What keeps me balanced? While the idea that you can balance an egg on end only during the equinox has been debunked (it’s possible any time of year), this is still a great moment to reflect on what balance means to you, and how you can maintain it. What practices keep you feeling nourished, and how often do you need to do them in order to avoid burnout and keep your well filled? Recommit to integrating self-care into your life.

What keeps me warm? In the Northern Hemisphere, as the weather gets cooler, you’ll want to start stoking your inner fire. Figure out what that looks like for you—maybe more vigorous yoga; a daily practice of pranayama that cultivates inner heat; cooking moist, warming grains and soups; or using warming spices, such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger, salt, cloves, mustard seed, black pepper, cardamom, and basil. According to Ayurveda, this is also the time to switch from cooling coconut oil to warming sesame oil for abhyanga (self-massage).

How can I come into greater alignment with nature? To align more closely with nature, start by noticing what’s happening around you. Tune in to the changes in the air, the temperature, and the light. Try adjusting your daily routines so that you rise earlier, with the sun, and begin to wind down a bit earlier, as darkness arrives. “The fall equinox is an invitation to come into alignment with the cycles of light and the circular nature of the seasons,” Micah says. “The more we connect with this cyclical rhythm, the more we align with nature.”

Where am I in my life? Just as we can observe the seasonal cycles, we can also notice and honor the cycles in our own life. Autumn parallels middle adulthood—“the time of life when we begin to shift toward our deepest work, that place of service, sharing, and connection,” Micah says. Take a compassionate, clear-eyed look at where you are in your life, and where you can take steps to come closer to what you most want to be doing—whether it’s in your career, relationships, creative expression, or personal growth.

Can I surrender to the new season? Because it’s hard to say goodbye to the warmth and ease of summer, autumn is a great time to practice aparigraha—non-grasping or non-possessiveness—one of the five yamas, or restraints, outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. “The fall equinox can offer an opportunity to work with accepting what’s changing, without aversion or resistance,” Micah says. “How might things be different if you could simply let go of what came before and open to what the next season will bring?”

Find out about upcoming programs with Micah Mortali.

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