Yoga Through the Seasons: Understanding the Cyclical Nature of Life
I recently created a series of illustrations called ‘Yoga Through the Seasons’. It all started as a simple, spring-inspired yoga illustration. As the idea of turning it into a yoga art series started growing in my mind, it made me reflect on the cyclical nature of life.
Especially for women, life flows more in cycles than a steady line. Our hormonal levels are ever-changing. If we understand and live with those cycles instead of resisting them, we are more at ease. More balanced.
Much like the seasons, we face constant changes, moving back and forth between death and birth, creation and destruction, upward and downward energies.
It is so important to honor those energies – in every season of life you may need something completely different.
How to live more aligned with the cyclical nature of life
The seasons – winter, spring, summer, autumn – are not to be taken only literally. You may experience changes throughout the year, but there are other cycles in life affecting you just as much.
Every month, your menstrual cycle guides you through different levels of energy, physical as much as emotional states.
Within any given relationship, we experience phases of slowing down, rupture, the dying of old patterns, only to make space for new growth and intensified connection.
The moon signals us new beginnings and reminds us when it is time to release. Waters flow and grow and ebb just as we do.
Nothing new can grow without the existence of death. This is the cyclical nature of life and it weaves through our entire existence.
By understanding and accepting these principles, you follow the flow of life with more ease.
Start with observing cycles within you and outside of you. Observe how you feel. What do you need right now? And know that, in high as well as low moments, that change will always be your only constant in life.
The underlying key principle is surrender. Give up resistance and let go of the struggle it causes. Once we accept and work with transitions, we open the gates to finding true strength through change.
Your life is guided by the ever-changing seasons. Work with them, not against them.
Yoga and the seasons: Understanding your cyclical nature
We work, live, and love best when we act aligned with the seasons. So let’s dive into what characterizes each season – metaphorically spoken – and how you can integrate these into your life and yoga practice.
The winter season: Time to rest
When you think of winter, what comes to your mind? To me, it feels quiet. Slow. Cozy. Winter is characterized by strong inward energy and invites us to slow down.
When you’re experiencing a winter season in life, you may have just gone through some turbulent changes. Now it is time to restore your energies and give yourself time for introspection.
In your menstrual cycle, your period days are equivalent to how winter feels. You may need more rest than usual these days, feeling vulnerable and in need of extra comfort.
Yoga practice for winter
Personally, I love practicing Yin Yoga on days where I’m feeling in need of a slow, gentle practice.
Give yourself time to rest in restorative poses – you don’t need to force yourself through strong vinyasa flows when you’re not feeling drawn to them.
Hip openers can be wonderful to get in touch with your emotions and ease menstrual pain.
Our little winters in life are wonderful for coming back to calmness. Give yourself an extra five minutes in Shavasana and rest your mind and soul.
Spring season: A new beginning
Often, as we pass our lowest moments in life, soon after we notice how new things start to blossom gently. As softly as the arrival of spring, a new beginning announces itself.
Spring is a season characterized by hope. It is still infused with winter’s tranquility, but with our energy slowly rising little by little.
Now it’s time to let go of emotions stored in the body and to make space for something new. The playful, optimistic energy of spring leaves you motivated to learn and expand.
Translated to the female cycle, we are now in our follicular phase. As the body starts maturing new eggs, women start feeling the uplifting energy of a new beginning.
Yoga practice for spring
Spring is the time to ease back into moderate-intensity flows. Day by day, your strength increases and you will find yourself more energized than before.
It is the season to open your heart and find balance. Practice heart-openers, back-bends, and balancing poses.
Just as much as it may feel good now to start new projects, you can use this time to integrate new things into your practice and work on arm balances and inversions.
Summer season: Full bloom
The birds are chirping, nature is in full bloom, and so are you. Summer makes you fall in love with life. You are energetic and feel at your best.
We all know that summers last only a little while, so make the best of the extra energy you have during those days.
Around ovulation, we are keen to connect with others, experience pleasure, and live up to our sensual side.
Yoga practice for summer
Summer days – and summer phases in life – have you feeling strong. Make time for energetic practices and building strength, at this point in time it will come to you easily.
You’re at your highest vibration and are likely to experience exuberant joy. If you’re looking to stay more balanced during this time, look for cooling practices.
As you feel transition approaching, ease the intensity of your practice slowly.
Autumn season: Allowing change
No high lasts forever, and nothing illustrates it more clearly than the seasons. As the leaves change their color and slowly start to fall, you may experience a shift in yourself as well.
Your mood may not be as stable and you may be irritated by the sudden changes – can’t things stay well forever? Unfortunately, they can’t, but I strongly believe it is for a good reason.
Those periods of transformation lead us to find growth within ourselves. Allow the change and know that this too shall pass
Within the female cycle, fall stands for the luteal phase, just before your menstruation approaches. It can be a challenging time, so be extra mindful with yourself.
Yoga practice for autumn
Support your body in the changes it is going through. Don’t judge yourself when your energy starts to decrease – it is a normal part of life.
Be very intentional with yourself and your practice, and, most importantly, listen to your body. Slow down if you need to and take time for self-care.
If you’re experiencing strong emotions, focus on releasing. Signal your body that it is okay to let go.
Why it is important to honor the cyclical nature of life
You can’t expect yourself to be the same every single day. Your life goes through natural seasons and it only shows that there’s a time for everything. Some days may be for play, others are here for grief.
Only the ever-changing nature of life allows us to grow as human beings and to fully embrace the gift of life.
We can’t hold onto things forever. It is necessary to let go of previous baggage before we make space for something new. Life-death-life-death-life-death. It is a never-ending cycle and with it, phases of transition and growth are only natural.
Growing your appreciation for each season is the secret to feeling more aligned and empowered.
Trust that they are there for a reason.
Which season of life do you feel you’re experiencing right now? Feel free to share below!