Fall is a time of transition and a crucial time of the year to stay healthy. What we do and eat can help us to remain healthy throughout the fall, and into winter. A basic premise of Ayurveda is to adjust our foods and activities with the change of the seasons. Yes, some people have a strong constitution and can just “tough it out”, but we don’t want to toughen. We are interested in thriving! One simple way that you can protect your well-being is to make lifestyle choices that counterbalance the potential for seasonally induced imbalances.
First, let’s look into what is happening in the fall (we are considering fall in the northern hemisphere. Seasons vary widely from one place to another, as do the qualities they create). In the fall, the sun’s energy slowly wanes, and is time to prepare for the following colder winter months. We notice it in the days, which become shorter and darker, and in the cool mornings and evenings. The wind is picking up and the air is becoming drier. These changes can leave us feeling a little raw and empty, but prana is abundant in the atmosphere which can bring us a sense of creativity and possibilities. The predominant element that fall brings with it is air, and the predominant characteristics of this season is dry, cool, light, erratic, rough, subtle, and clear. These are the same qualities of vata dosha; therefore, in Ayurveda, fall is the vata season of the year.
Working with the principle of “like increases like and opposite balances”, vata season will be less likely to cause imbalances if you choose a lifestyle that is the opposite of the season’s qualities. We then need to fill the season with warmth, oiliness, routine, a sense of groundedness, and loving relationships! It is best that you know your constitution and any imbalances you may have, so you can modify your seasonal routine appropriately.
Here are some general recommendations…
The key is to eat what naturally subdues the dry, light, and erratic nature of the fall. Therefore, eat foods that are substantial, high in fat and protein, with stimulating spices, and served hot. Eating this way, we will keep ourselves grounded and internally moisturized throughout the season. Eating warming and nourishing foods is a powerful way to pacify vata. Click here to download a list of foods to favor this fall. Most importantly, how we eat may be just as critical as what we eat…especially to keep Vata calm! Avoid eating on the go or in a hurry. Eat at a slow pace and in a peaceful environment. Take time to completely chew each bite and really savor the flavors. Sri Swami Satchidanada would say: “chew your liquids and drink your solids!”.
One of the most effective ways to support vata is by establishing a daily routine. Read this article to understand and establish rituals of self-care. For vata season, a wonderful ritual is abhyanga – oil self-massage.
Massage your body from the extremities to the center, with long strokes for the long bones and circular strokes for the joints. Use warm sesame oil. After the massage, take a warm shower and leave a coat of oil on the skin to be absorbed during the day. This practice calms the nervous system, grounds our energy, and stimulates prana in our tissues.
Choose clothes that will keep you warm throughout the day. When outside, cover your head, ears, neck, and chest - protecting these areas from the wind and cold. Colors that will support a balanced vata dosha are oranges, reds, and yellows.
Hatha Yoga and Meditation
Favor a practice that will create groundedness, warmth, and quietness in your body and mind. Practice at a slow pace, gently and consistently. Cultivate deep breaths but never be forceful. The meditation focus should be on calming the mind and regulating restless life-energy. Check out this workshop if you would like to explore and learn how to tailor your practice according to the doshas.
When we know how to synchronize with the natural changes in our environment, we can boost our energy, immunity, and resilience; protecting our body and mind from the imbalances that are characteristics of the season. By harmonizing our diet and lifestyle choices with each season, we can better maintain our internal sense of balance throughout the year. If you would like more specific support for your system, I offer consultations in person and by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. Wishing you a stable and soothing fall!