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What’s with all the deep forward bends? Blame vata season

Seasonal Yoga
Why all the karnapidasanas? It's vata season, silly.

As I was breathing in karnapidasana recently—not easy to do when on your back with your legs bent alongside your head—the muffled words of Brooklyn-based yoga teacher Angela Arnold managed to find their way through my knees into my ears: “It’s vata season, so it’s good to do deep forward bends.” And so I discovered that yoga poses, like produce and fashion, are also seasonal.

According to Ayurveda, fall and winter are known as vata season, a time of cold and wind on the outside and possible anxiety and stress (or introspection and self-examination) on the inside.

Most yoga teachers vary their sequences to reflect these seasonal changes, says Arnold. “Although I teach all of these poses in all seasons, I tend to give more deep forward bends in fall and winter. Forward folds calm the body, slow the breath and heart rate, and create a lasting feeling of contentment because they focus on the parasympathetic nervous system. My intention is to bring a little peace to the mind, even if the world isn’t peaceful. I also teach more poses like bakasana, which require you to energize your center point and stabilize your body in a time of transition. In summer, when the body feels more expansive, I teach more backbends.”

Since many of us use yoga to help deal with the clutter in our heads, I guess it doesn’t hurt that teachers like Arnold bring Ayurvedic’s seasonal stress-management philosophy into the picture to help us—okay, me—better cope. And while there may not be a pose to make spring come more quickly, a few extra deep forward bends may help us make it through winter.

For Angela Arnold’s class schedule, visit

Do you make changes to your yoga practice or workouts in fall and winter? Tell us, here!