Adjusting to Autumn with Ayurveda

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Autumn is bringing shorter days and changeable weather, exposing us to qualities that are light, dry, cold, mobile, subtle and rough.  Ayurveda explains that when vata dosha dominates, these qualities are present. Ayurveda refers to autumn and early winter as the vata season.

 

Ayurveda is an ancient science based on elemental principles that pertain to life on earth. Ayurveda recognizes the elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth as the building blocks of the natural world. According to Ayurveda, these five elements pair-up in three combinations to form the primary forces of nature called doshas. Ether and air form vata dosha.  Fire and water make up pitta dosha.  Water and earth create kapha dosha.

 

Under the influence of vata’s ether and air contributions, you can feel light, carefree and creative or spacey, scattered, and unstable. The etheric nature of vata creates a sense of space, in which you may feel free or lost. The airy aspect of vata can inspire productivity or promote anxiety. Ayurveda teaches that like increases like. If you are dominantly vata by nature or are consistently influenced by vata, you are more likely to experience the negative effects of excess vata during the vata season.

 

As the external environment changes during the vata season, your internal environment can experience the same type of changes; dry leaves, dry skin; crackly leaves, crackly joints; shorter days, shorter attention span; colder days, colder extremities, windy days, windy bowels. The qualities of vata dosha are found in the disorders that are common at this time of year. By observing the processes of Mother Nature, you can better understand the processes of your body, mind and spirit.

 

Applying the Ayurvedic principle that opposite actions create balance, you can maintain balance during the vata season by emphasizing lifestyle and food choices that are grounding, stabilizing, warming, moisturizing and softening.  You can stay calm and connected in this whirlwind season with a consistent practice that includes nourishing and protective measures. Ayurveda promotes simple and regular routines as having a deeper effect on balancing vata than an ‘as needed’ approach.

 

Offered here are Ayurvedic recommendations for enjoying the vata season with stability and serenity:

 

  • Follow a regular routine including scheduled times for self-care, meals and sleep – balance activity with plenty of downtime
  • Perform a daily self-massage (abhyanga) with warm sesame oil or a vata balancing oil blend, and then take a warm shower or bath
  • Be mindful while eating – eat in a peaceful environment – eat in silence
  • Eat seasonal foods that are warm, moist, unctuous, sweet and soft: cooked fruits, roasted root vegetables, sweet grains and savory soups – more cooked meals than raw – favor sweet, sour and salty tastes
  • Include healthy fats in your diet, such as ghee and sesame oil 
  • Sip plenty of warm beverages throughout the day: dosha herbal teas and water with lemon & fresh ginger, to kindle agni (digestive fire) and improve hydration
  • In the morning, drink water that sat in a copper cup overnight
  • Use warming and grounding herbs and spices: ashwagandha, ginger, cardamom, basil, cinnamon, hing, rosemary, nutmeg, vanilla
  • Soak in warm water that is infused with sweet and grounding essential oils: rose, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, jatamamsi 
  • Wear clothing that is soft and warm – choose red, orange and yellow colors – keep your head and neck warm – protect your ears
  • Spend quiet time in nature: walking, gardening, canoeing – dress for the weather
  • Enjoy physical activity that moves at a slow, smooth and steady pace – conserve energy
  • Practice hatha yoga that restores energy – stay connected to the earth – keep a downward gaze or close your eyes – remain fully present and inwardly focused
  • Regulate your breath (pranayama): extended exhalations, alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Sodhana) and the sounding breath (Ujjayi)
  • Allow for deep relaxation and meditation – practice: being mindful, creative visualization, yoga nidra and conscious breathing
  • Seek silence

 

Note:

  • These tips are appropriate for those with a dominate vata constitution throughout the year.
  • If you have a pitta or kapha imbalance during the vata season (vata can increase pitta and kapha), the recommendations should be adjusted accordingly. An Ayurvedic practitioner can design a plan for your personal balance.

 

 

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.