Live in harmony with the ever-changing seasons: Seasonal Yoga is a practice that can help us glide more effortlessly through the ups and downs of our lives.
Many of us find that our energy changes throughout the year. In winter, we may feel drawn to rest and retreat, whilst summertime brings a fresh urge to expand, socialise and try new things. In times gone by, when societies were more reliant upon nature’s changing cycles for survival, seasonal lifestyles were much more commonplace. Summer was often a time for harvesting and hard work, whilst winter brought more time for quiet reflection and early nights.
Now, in the age of electric lighting, supermarkets, office jobs and 24 hour culture, many of us find that we have become detached from the natural ebb and flow of these seasonal rhythms…and our health is paying the price. In a world that seems to be always running on high speed, it’s no wonder that we feel anxious, stressed and overwhelmed in our daily lives.
From its birth in the mid 1990s, Seasonal Yoga has been helping people around the world to re-connect with the changing energy of the seasons in order to live more balanced lives, ones that are in tune with nature.
Created by teachers Julie Hanson and Sue Woodd in 1995, and joined later by Marit Akintewe in 2010, it is an antidote to the stress and anxiety of modern life, combining yoga with elements of T’ai Chi, Qigong and traditional Chinese medicine for a varied and nourishing practice that offers year-long energy and vitality.
How it works
Drawing upon the ancient wisdom of the Chinese five elements system, where each season is associated with a different element, pair of organs and energetic qualities, Seasonal Yoga works with postures and practices that align with the specific energetic qualities of each season. In winter, for example, the focus is about going inwards, preserving energy, resting and rejuvenating the body.
The element associated with winter is water, often used as a symbol of the subconscious. Water teaches us about stillness and flow, the power of crashing waves and the deep calm that lies beneath them. It is able to fit through the tiniest cracks and move around obstacles with ease. It brings new life wherever it goes. The organs traditionally linked to winter are the bladder and kidneys, both of which regulate water in the body.
Energetically, the kidneys are said to be a storehouse for essence energy in the body, called Jing, whilst the bladder is linked with the nervous system and the emotion of fear. Calming and resting the body and mind is therefore of great importance during winter. Seasonal Yoga postures used for the winter season reflect this, whilst also working with the bladder and kidneys meridians…these are energy lines that run down the back and up the front of the body, to further enhance the energy of the season.
Forward folds such as Paschimottanasana and Balasana (child’s pose), are perfect for winter, as are gentle flows like cat/cow that bring flexibility to the spine and stretch into the front and back of the body.
As many of us know, yoga is much more than just the asanas (physical postures). Seasonal Yoga trainings take a holistic approach to teaching yoga, incorporating contemporary knowledge of nutrition, neuro linguistic programming (NLP) and anatomy, with studies of yoga history, philosophy, meditation, pranayama and lifestyle, for a fully integrative wellbeing practice that transforms lives.
Seasonal Yoga has now trained over 2,000 yoga teachers around the world and its ever-growing popularity is testimony to its ability to provide true wellbeing and transformation in people’s day-to-day lives.
"Most people who learn about Seasonal Yoga will say it becomes part of their culture and existence,” explains course founder, Julie Hanson. “It’s something that you don’t forget about, it’s just the way you live. Once you learn that, you can’t forget it, it becomes second nature.”
A growing community
Seasonal Yoga has its roots in Scotland and still has a large and dedicated community there, that has been added to over the years. Attention also continues to grow across Europe. There are now Seasonal Yoga teacher trainings available in a number of locations across the UK and the recent introduction of an online teacher training school means that it is now even easier for people around the world to train in this wonderful style.
For existing teachers looking to learn more or convert to teaching Seasonal Yoga, the school offers an online conversion course and a range of advanced trainings that can be accessed after graduation. Advanced courses include: Seasonal Yin, Seasonal Yang, Yoga Philosophy and Meditation, Wise Ones, ‘Find your Niche’, Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Children, Breathwork and more, with the opportunity to train for a 500-hour qualification.
A practice for all
For those not wishing to undertake a full teacher training, you can still learn the life-changing practice of Seasonal Yoga with a Yogaly course, either online or in person in Glasgow. The Yogaly 100-hour foundation course was designed for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of Seasonal Yoga, develop a home practice and feel happier, healthier and more present in their day-to-day life.
The main course takes place over 15 weeks, comprising of five modules that can be fitted around a busy schedule, whilst creating a transformative life journey that leaves people feeling healthier, more energised and in possession of healthy habits that last a lifetime.
“Above all, Seasonal Yoga teaches us to celebrate change,” says Hanson. “As we allow ourselves to embrace the cycles of death and rebirth that accompany each passing year’s seasons, we can also learn to find joy in the different seasons our own lives pass through. Seasonal Yoga brings together teachers from a range of ages, walks of life, and life experiences, to create a varied community with a shared passion for the benefits it brings to their lives.”