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Ancient practices for a modern world

Lammas / Lughnasadh - 1st August  


Late summer is an important transitional season, a time to re-centre, create stability, balance and comfort, in preparation for the cooler yin stages of autumn and winter. 

In yoga we focus on core stability, connecting to the earth and feeling centred. 


The first harvest; and the corn is being brought in from the field and apples are ripening. During the season of harvest, we take time to enjoy the feast that nature has laid out before us.

Although it is high summer, autumn is visible on the horizon. The sun is gradually waning and losing its power; the days are getting shorter. The energy of the Earth is changing from: fire to
water; yang to yin; outer to inner, sun to moon. if we can flow with this change of energy, and gradually shift from outward pursuits to a more inward focus, then it can be a wonderful way of keeping our life in balance.

we all have a harvest and now is a good time to consider what you are harvesting and have been investing in. Look back over the year at where you have been putting your energy. Your harvest may be the fruition of a project, hobby or work achievement. Perhaps it’s that you’ve managed to maintain a regular yoga or movement practice. Maybe, it is literally a harvest from your garden. Now is the time to reflect on your efforts and celebrate what you have achieved


The reaping of the harvest is associated with the theme of sacrifice with the grain-harvest in its passage from corn to loaf of bread. This is a good time to consider what needs to be sacrificed to ensure the success of your harvest. Sometimes to move forward with your passion, you must let something go.

What are the seeds that you wish to store over the autumn and winter, ready for planting out next spring? The autumn and winter aren’t the best time for action, but they are the perfect time to dream and make plans.

And why not in tradition of harvest, bake bread!

During the period of first harvest, we remember to say thank you to Mother Earth. One way of thanking the earth is to treat her with kindness and respect by embodying the yogic principle of non-harm (ahimsa). We can do this by considering what impact our actions are having upon the environment and aim to act in a way that does least harm. Some choose to be vegetarian or vegan, and some just cut down on meat and eat more vegetarian meals, some may lessen the use of plastic etc…. If we all make some small changes to the way we live, then environmentally it can add up.

Another way to thank Mother Earth is to simply notice the beauty that spreads before us at harvest. We can get so caught up in the busyness of our lives that we forget to look around us and appreciate the beauty of the season.



Lughnasadh is the Celtic name for Lammas, time of the 'first fruits' of harvest. Lugh (Lleu) is an ancient god associated with the time of harvest, horse and livestock fairs, often held on hilltops.

Lammas Day (Anglo-Saxon hlaf-mas, "loaf-mass"), also known as Loaf Mass Day, is a Christian holiday celebrated in some English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere on 1 August.


Our yoga practice in summer to autumn can focus on cultivating contentment, gratitude, happiness, foundation, feeling centred, connecting with the earth, and rooting down.

Use Mula Bandha (pelvic floor) and Uddiyana Bandha (upward abdominal lock) for stability, strength, and focus. Side bends and poses that allow you to surrender to the earth are great at this time of year.

Bring in a more lunar energy to your practice such as moon salute variations – moon salute, lunar salutes, water salutes, earth salutes.

Exercise at this time of year should be slightly less energetic than full summer, concentrate on building muscle tone, core stability and balance. Strengthen your legs which are your support and connection to the earth. 

Boost your lymph by doing inversions or just by having your legs up the wall.



The element for late summer is EARTH and this rules the Stomach and Spleen, the two primary organs of digestion.

The STOMACH not only receives the food we eat but it also processes emotional and mental food. - think of the phrase, ‘food for thought.’


The SPLEEN is the largest lymphoid organ and responsible for filtering blood. It plays a major part in our immune and lymphatic system, by removing bacteria and waste, releasing iron back into the blood system. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is believed to be the invigorator, lifting our energy and spirit, affecting our mood and health. 


Health & Lifestyle


  • Look after your immune system to ward off infections and maintain a healthy digestive system so it doesn’t have to work overtime to do its job. 

  • The colour for this season is Yellow, so ensure you eat foods in season such as peaches, squash, peppers, apricots, all of which contain anti-oxidant beta-carotene and vitamins C & E, essential nourishment for the immune system. 

  • Late Summer is a damp time of year so avoid processed or stale foods. Food should be cooked on a low flame or sautéed to bring out the sweetness of the food. 

  • Include lemon, parsley, celery, and drink plenty of green and jasmine tea.

  • Make some time for yourself after the busy summer holidays. Take a step back and just find some balance and harmony in every day.



Celtic Tree Wisdom for Summer to Autumn

Go for a walk and notice any colour changes in the trees. Actually look. We spend so much time now always wanting to capture an image of something, that we have forgotten to really absorb something into us through our eyes and other senses.


Spending time around trees is the perfect way to connect to the abundance of the season of first fruits and harvest. When you’re out walking look out for the signs of the fruitfulness of trees: acorns forming on oak trees; conkers on horse-chestnut trees; berries on
the hawthorn tree. Mindfully observe a tree that you feel drawn to with an open-mind and curiosity. Use your five senses to enjoy and appreciate its fruitfulness.

Absorb the image in your mind so that you can recall in within your yoga practice. Being in the fields, amongst the trees in the woods, the sun catching the eater of a stream. It will uplift your yoga and bringing a different essence to the practice. It will also help you to strengthen your connection to the world around you. Yoga is union.

Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox / Mabon - 20 - 23 September


Autumn is the season where the energetic yang energy merges into the cooler, calmer yin; when leaves change colour, daylight is shorter and there is the sense that the earth’s energy is gathering inward and preparing to let go for winter.

It is time for us to let go of things that we may be holding on to, remove the old and focus on the things that we truly value.


At the Autumn Equinox night and day are balanced before we tip in to the darkest phase of the year. The Autumn Equinox is the perfect time to explore balance in your yoga practice. And yoga is the perfect way to bring balance to body and mind. 


At the Autumn Equinox there is a shift of emphasis from: sun to moon, light to dark, action to contemplation, growth to dormancy, building up to letting go, and movement to stillness. Now is a good time to pause after the growing season and consider how best to recuperate, regenerate, and replenish your energy this autumn. 
We can honour our connection to nature and respond with wisdom to the changing season by changing our focus from activity to inner reflection.


The name “Mabon” (pronounced ‘May-bon’) comes from Welsh the sun deity (‘The Divine Son’, ‘Son of light’ of the same name who was worshiped in the Celtic religion.  The sun god Mabon is also  known as the Welsh and Gaulish god Maponos. Mabon typically commemorates the celebration of resting after a long and laborious harvest season. It is traditionally seen as a time to finish projects and clear out emotional and physical clutter, so that the winter can be a restful and peaceful season.

**However, one website states, there is some evidence that the name was adopted in the 1970s as part of the wheel of the year, and the holiday was not originally a Celtic celebration…. I’ll leave that one up to you to decide.



The focus for your yoga practise in Autumn should be on breath awareness, pranayama and gathering energy inwards. Work with postures that open and close the body, open the chest, and side body to increase space for deep, long breaths.  A focus on arms, shoulders, and hands, which will stimulate the meridian lines of the Autumn organs. Give yourself big hugs and keep the connection to your breath as you move. Movements such as arms wide into chest hugs, bridge lifts with raised arms


Poses to practise that will stimulate the meridian lines for the lungs and large intestine and give you a sense of openness in the chest allowing you to increase your breath: Warrior 1, Fish, Camel....


Autumn is related to the Metal Element, which governs transformation, organisation, setting boundaries and re-establishing limits. 

Autumn Organs - Lungs & Large Intestine

Each season is related to a pair of organs and for Autumn these are the Lungs and Large Intestine. The organs which deal primarily with absorption and expulsion - the drawing in and letting go within the body.

The large intestine is the final stretch of the alimentary canal. Its main function is to re-absorb water to help the body’s fluid balance and help with elimination of waste products.

Health & Lifestyle

As the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop, keep nourished with seasonal foods, such as vegetable stews, soups, adding some pungent spices. Nettle and gingers tea are good for your digestion, and adding spices to foods such as, again, ginger and turmeric will aid with keeping your immune system in check. 



Give Thanks

This is the season of the final harvest, and Bowing to the Earth, as in the first movement in Indian Dance of Bhumi Pranam or Yoga Earth Salutations are wonderful ways to give thanks to the Earth for the harvest. 

Another way to thank Mother Earth is to simply notice the beauty that spreads before us at harvest. We can get so caught up in the busyness of our lives that we forget to look around us and appreciate the beauty of the season.


Celtic Tree Wisdom for Autumn

There is wisdom in nature and you only have to look at a tree for it. In spring the newly formed leaf contains within in it, the blueprint that prompts it to fall from the tree in autumn. The tree knows that to survive the dark, cold winter months it must conserve energy. The leaves rot, forming compost that in turn nourishes the tree. Spring comes back around everything starts all over again. By observing and responding to the changing seasons and combining this seasonal awareness with meditation, we find ourselves more able to embrace the life-death-rebirth cycle.
The tree in autumn can be the inspiration for our yoga practice.


We can imitate the wisdom of nature and the tree by conserving energy over the coming autumn-winter months and letting go of unnecessary baggage, mentally, physically, and any of areas of life that need reducing. Autumn, like in spring, is a great time to have a clear out before Christmas and the new year. De-clutter, home, and mind. create space.

spending time around trees is the perfect way to connect with the changes occurring in nature. When you are out, look at the trees, the leaves changing colour, feel the texture of the leaves and the shapes, the sound of leaves as you walk on them.


Samhain - 31 October – 1 November
'End of the Year and New Beginnings'


Our challenge during the autumn-winter period is on the one hand to embrace the darkness and on the other, to bring light in. We recognise how darkness offers us rest, regeneration, and renewal during the autumn-winter months. At the same time, it’s important to lighten up dark days by conjuring up healing images of light. In order to not be affected by the lack of daylight or sun, get out in it as much as possible (when weather permits!) and if you know you get SAD or even just a little low be sure to add in activities and light sources that uplift.


Samhain means ‘Summers End.’

The Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.

This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with honouring the dead. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of 31st October, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids (Celtic priests), to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

Samhain is about the end of something and the start of a new beginning. The end of the year and start of another. Death and rebirth. This can be made personal by remembering lost loved ones, ancestors, or someone you’ve felt inspired by, by simply lighting a candle.


we could also take time to remember women of the past that suffered simply because they could do things men couldn’t. women having any power in medieval times was considered a threat. Anyone that were healers, herbalists, midwives, those who knew what riches the earth had to offer, in a sense, the first to practice early forms of medicine and those that dared to believe anything different from the practiced religion, were labelled Witches and tortured accordingly. Making it then hard for anyone thereafter to openly practice their wisdom and knowledge of the earth without fear. Witch always then being seen as something evil or bad.


At this time, we have Halloween, (a contraction of all hallows eve), the day before All saints Day (In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated 1st November as a time to honour all saints.) Halloween is now recognised more for its candlelit pumpkin lanterns, and children dressed up in spooky outfits, trick or treating door to door. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (above).

We can draw inspiration from Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, which takes place in either late October to early November. In India's early agrarian society, Diwali coincided with the last harvest before winter.  Diwali means “a row of lights” and heralds’ new beginnings. The Hindu goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of good fortune and wealth) is celebrated in Diwali and Is said to only visits houses that are clean and well lit; so, at Diwali Hindu houses are lit with dozens of flickering, hand-painted terracotta lamps.  



Every Ending is a New Beginning

​Autumn is turning to winter now, the days are getting shorter and cold frosty mornings whisper that winter is on the way. In many traditions this point where we enter the darkest phase of the year, is seen as a new beginning rather than an ending.


We are born into the light of the world; we began in the darkness of our mother’s womb. An oak tree started out as an acorn buried in the darkness of the soil. Each new day begins and ends in darkness at sunrise and sunset. Every month, before the new moon is reborn into the night sky, there is a period of darkness, when the moon is not yet visible. Similarly, as autumn turns to winter, we are entering the darkest phase of the year, until the Sun is reborn at the Winter Solstice in December.

Although this period is not a good time for action, it is the perfect time to plan and incubate ideas and then let them spring up when the light returns.



In yoga the root chakra (muladhara) is associated with ancestral connections and a sense of tribal belonging. So, we can work on postures that are said to stimulate this area. Grounding postures, seated postures, mula bhanda, do yin yoga or gentle seated flows. However, if you need uplifting, energising, warming, then you could add some fire into your practice with vinyasa flows or stronger flows but be sure to balance that out with the gentler, more still side of the practice for your energies of this time.

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