The wheel of the year has turned and one of the key points of the season is upon us. This point is the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere that marks the first day of fall and in the Southern Hemisphere it is the Vernal Equinox which opens the first day of spring. An Equinox time means that the hours of daylight and night are roughly of equal length. According to the Farmers Almanac,
“The word ‘equinox’ comes from Latin aequus, meaning ‘equal,’ and nox, ‘night.’ During the equinox, the Sun crosses what we call the ‘celestial equator’—an imaginary extension into space of Earth’s equator line. The Equinox occurs precisely when the Sun’s center passes through this line.“
When the Sun crosses the equator from north to south, this marks the Autumnal Equinox; when it crosses from south to north, this marks the Vernal Equinox. After the Autumnal Equinox, the sun is rising later and nightfall comes sooner. This ends with the December Solstice when days start to grow longer and nights shorter.”
The Autumnal Equinox also ushers in the time of Libra, the seventh astrological sign of the zodiac. Libra is ruled by Venus and is symbolized by a set of scales, weighing out equal measure and consideration. According to Wikipedia, “The symbol of the scales
is based on the Scales of Justice held by Themis
, the Greek personification
of divine law and custom. She became the inspiration for modern depictions of Lady Justice
. Libra is the only zodiac constellation in the sky represented by an inanimate object. The other eleven signs are represented either as an animal or mythological characters throughout history.”
Libra born individuals are masters when it comes to the handling of difficult and awkward situations. They have a way of using their personal grace and poise to smooth out differences and reach compromise. They are natural diplomats and have a strong desire to be fair in any situation. They want to establish peace in the face of difficulties. As Cardinal Air, they can also be fickle as the wind blows this way and that. When negatively aspected, they cannot make up their mind!
At this Autumnal (or Vernal for Southern Hemisphere) time of year, with the winds of change in the air, and Libra prompting us to balance, adding this practice to your yoga routine might be helpful.
If you are challenged with balance poses or feel very wobbly, you might try initially practicing this along the side of a wall, or with a folding chair positioned on the mat ,or nearby off the mat to have as a prop.
Standing at the end of your mat, move to the side edge of the mat. Using the side of your yoga mat as a guide, align your feet heel to toe along the edge of the mat. Arms can be by the sides, or placed over the heart. Very mindfully, walk one foot in front of the other, so that the front foot’s heel is in line with the back foot’s toes. Take few steps toward the top of the mat. Step and hold with the feet aligned one in front of the other along the side of the mat.. Feel your balance internally. Hands over the heart can help to stabilize any wobble. Take a few steps like this: heel to toe foot alignment. Now try this walk moving backwards, toes of front foot move to heel of back foot. See what happens when you close your eyes. Practicing this heel to toe walk can make a big difference in how we experience balance and help us keep our balance on and off the mat.
Practice balance! Happy Autumnal (or Vernal) Equinox!