Life brings many changes and we must constantly process and evolve to keep growing. Through weather, seasons, relationships, life stages, illnesses, etc., we are presented with many challenges in our lives. Ayurveda teaches us to lean into the change and to use it to tap into the present moment. Ayurveda focuses on a seasonal diet and lifestyle, eating for your dosha (body and mind constitution), and changing your routine for your current state of imbalances. Ayurveda uses these to show us that as things externally and internally change, we can support ourselves and our health to it’s highest potential. We must not be static or stuck in our mindset about eating the same foods daily, our expectations of who we want people to be, or how we want our lives to pan out. When we force and try to control we become unbalanced and rigid. When we go with the seasons, with our life stages, and with how we feel we become open to the unexpected places life can bring us.
As we move into fall and winter, we are in the season of movement and change. Ayurveda teaches us daily habits and lifestyles tips for fall that help support our health and embrace the change!
Autumn has the qualities of light, cold, windy, and rough. These qualities can provoke the vata dosha. The guidelines for fall revolve around pacifying potential vata tendencies. In balance, vata tends to bring creativity, quick mindedness, and change. However, out of balance vata season can bring anxiety, forgetfulness, constipation, or dry skin.
When entering a new season remember the Ayurvedic principles “like increases like” and that opposites can facilitate balance. If it’s really hot out eating spicy foods will make you over heated or if it’s cold and dry out chips and crackers will increase these qualities in your body. On the other side of that when it’s cold and dry out eating a warm bowl of soup can be incredibly nourishing.
Our Lifestyle Tips for a Balanced Fall Season:
1. Establish a Daily Routine (Dinacharya)
For vata season it is very important to create and stick to a daily routine. This will keep you grounded and less likely to be forgetful. Whether this is a meditation, food, or reading, come up with a way to stick to a routine daily.
Some recommendations are:
Waking up at the same time of day and going to sleep at the same time. It is recommended if you can to wake up at 5 A.M., when there is stillness in the air. Try to be in bed by 10 P.M.
Gentle Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) before meditation.
Eating your biggest meal at lunch.
2. Hydrate and Protect Your Skin with Massage
In Vata season our skin can react and become dry and cold. We suggest doing two things: Get an Ayurvedic Massage (abhyanga) and give yourself a daily massage.
With the guide of a skilled massage therapist an Abhyanga is deeply nourishing and healing. With warm sesame oil with infused herbs it will help calm down anxiety and boost your immunity as it works your lymphatic system. It can improve joint health, calm the nervous system down, and improve skin tone and circulation. For more information on an Abhyanga or to book an appointment go to our website.
We recommend giving your self a daily massage as well. A self-abhyanga is great to keep the skin warm and protected daily from dryness. The recommended oil for this season is sesame oil as it is warming and deeply hydrating. Apply warm sesame oil all over your body from your head to your toes.
3. Practice Yoga Asana
Yoga can be really beneficial at this time as it can bring fluidity and grounding. Recommended poses are: Forward bend, Spinal Twist, Cat/Cow, Camel, and Cobra. Make sure to always have a deep savasana after your practice. In Vata season people often suffer from constipation, so any form of forward fold that compresses the pelvis can alleviate symptoms.
4. Slow Down and Keep Warm
An excess of vata energy tends to bring movement to the mind and body. Out of balance this can result in being spacy, forgetful, and run down. Take the time to notice how you are feeling and notice if you are taking on too much in your life. Can you scale it back? Can you prioritize feeling clear, focused, and rested? If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the things you have to do or can’t seem to balance all the things you want to do, listen to the season and slow down! Enjoy a bath, meditate, drink a chai, and eat warming foods. This is a time to go inwards.
Be sure to keep warm and dress warmly for the weather. If it is windy, make sure to cover your ears and head to not let out too much heat.
Too much stimulus can have you feeling drained. During this season, avoid loud noises, loud music, being too busy, or driving fast.
5. Go for Warming Foods
Eat to nourish yourself! As we shift from hot days to cold and dry days, we need to switch from raw foods to cooked foods. Try eating oatmeal with turmeric and ghee in the morning. This will help to settle vata. For lunch go for basmati rice, kitchari, or steamed vegetables. Salads and other raw foods are not recommended at this time. Avoid chips and crackers as they have a drying tendency in the body. Warm mushy stews and soups are great for this season! Make sure to have a healthy fat, like ghee, in your meals.
Don’t drink too much caffeine or stimulants like pre-workout. Especially avoid these after mid-day. Vata season can notoriously affect sleep, so stimulants will make it harder to find a restful sleep.
6. Prioritize Sleep
Vata season can bring insomnia and sleeping issues for some individuals. This is why it is important to prioritize sleep. Don’t go on your computer or phone at least 30 minutes before bed. Try to set a reminder to go to bed and maybe do some light restorative yoga or meditation before sleeping. If you get anxiety before bed, try journaling everything that is coming up for you.
Make this season a time of intention and balance. Just as the leaves begin to fall off of the trees, so can unnecessary burdens in your life. Give yourself permission to go inwards, feel grounded, and explore your creativity!
Resources: Lad, Vasant. 1999. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. New York: Three Rivers Press, 66-67.