It's that time of year again, the season of change and transition. It's a beautiful time where the leaves change colors, pumpkins are abundant and both our bodies and earth begin to prepare for winter hibernation. We can feel the change either slowly, as the temperatures slowly get cooler and the air drier. Or we can experience the shift from summer to fall within the span of a day – for those living in the Bay Area know exactly what I mean.
As the heat of summer moves on, we begin to see the qualities of Vata increase both internally and in our surroundings. We learned from this post, that the qualities of Vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle and mobile; created from the combination of the air and ether elements. The cornerstone of Ayurvedic principles teaches us that opposites balance, therefore, Vata season will be less aggravating to our mind and body if we fill it with warmth, oiliness, deep nourishment, a sense of stability, routine and groundedness along with loads of love. Some examples of this are:
- If our skin feels dry and/or cold, we counteract the dryness by eating more healthy oils and warming foods and indulge in some abhyanga – full body oil massage.
- If we feel the increase of the air and space in our brains and nervous system via nervousness or are having trouble concentrating on regular tasks, practice calming activities like yin yoga, restorative yoga or deep pranayama – breathing exercises.
As someone with a Vata-Pitta constitution I incorporate the above rules of thumb into my daily and/or weekly practices. Because Vata is so light in quality, it is the one dosha that is easily thrown off balance and therefore, I definitely have to up the ante during Vata season. Here are some simple things you can incorporate too:
Nutrition & Food choices:
- Remembering that each meal should have all six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent). Yet, during autumn we want to have more of the sweet, sour and salty tastes because these are tastes that do not aggravate Vata and are all moistening and nutritive in action.
- Approach your daily cooking and food choices with seasonal options. The best way to figure out what is in season is to visit your local farmers market.
- Favor warm and cooked foods. Minimize or eliminate raw food.
- Drink room temperature or warm water throughout the day. Drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated.
- Introduce healthy oils into your diet such as Sesame Oil, Ghee, Olive Oil.
- Put the cold, raw salads down and become friends with Tahini during this season!
- Some ideas for meals:
- Steamed or roasted veggies.
- Soups and stews.
- Cooked grains with the good oils.
- Delight in spices, which are seasonal favorites, such as basil, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary and turmeric.
- Remember, we Eat to Heal, so what and how we eat greatly impacts the way we feel, as well as, helps build our immunity for the winter months of Kapha.
- Wake up early! Rising before sunrise allows the body to begin to synchronize itself to the rhythm of the sun. Also, Vata, whose qualities of lightness and movement is involved in elimination; the pre-dawn period is the best time to try to eliminate the body's physical and mental wastes. Proper elimination helps with the entire digestive process, immunity and health. I don't think I need to go into why pooping is important.
- Try to keep your daily schedule as regular as possible. So even if you don't wake up pre-dawn, try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day.
- Eat your meals at the same time every day, with lunch being your heaviest meal.
- Once a week, or as often as you'd like, do Abhyanga, which is an oil massage performed on the whole body with sesame oil. I would warm up the oil first but make sure it isn't hot before applying it on your skin. Abhyanga pacifies Vata dosha, smoothes the skin, prevents wrinkles, improves sense of touch, calms the mind and helps to promote sound sleep, heals the body faster and improves vision.
Ayurveda Fall Soup Cleanse:
We tend to only think of the beginning of Spring season as the perfect time to do a cleanse. However, Ayurveda believes that seasonal cleanses help to maintain our bodies and mind in the long run. Think of it as a little reset to get your insides ready for the winter season. If you would like to learn more about the soup cleanse read more here.
As nature readies for the winter season, ensure you make the shift in your mind, body, spirit along with her!