The last light of summer fades away, the autumn winds start to blow. The leaves on the trees dry out, evenings are cooler and the air smells crisp and cold. Autumn is a natural period of shifting and transition – children go back to school, we harvest the last crops for winter and start to make plans that don’t include long evenings on the patio.
Ayurvedic medicine believes that the fall season is ruled by vata dosha. This dosha, or natural force, is composed of the air and ether elements, making it dry, light, cold and mobile. Vata dosha governs all periods of transition, and fall is a great time of transition.
Ayurveda also demonstrates that the same forces inherent in nature occur within our bodies, and based on this fact we can make better choices about how to balance our bodies according the seasons. During the vata season of fall, the wind blows outside and nights grow cold. Green leaves turn brown, dry out and fall to the ground.
Similarly, we often feel some internal upheaval during this season. The increasing darkness of autumn draws us inwards, inviting us to withdraw more deeply into our internal world. The natural mobility of vata can stir up emotions that are ready to be released, just as the outside wind stirs up leaves ready for decomposition. Additionally, our bodies may start to feel cold and we may notice internal symptoms of dryness such as chapped lips, dry skin or constipation
5 Ayurvedic Tips To Stay Healthy:
Ayurveda offers some simple remedies to balancing the cold, light, dry and mobile symptoms of vata that can leave us feeling imbalanced. Stick to these tips to relax into autumn gracefully.
1. Eat warm, cooked seasonal foods.
Mother nature knows best and has provided us with balancing foods for the season. Eat plenty of warm, cooked root vegetables and squashes to balance this cold, dry season. Add moisture to balance dryness in the form of water, broth and oil. Soups and stews are the perfect remedy for a balanced autumn.
2. Add self-oil massage
Oil works to balance dryness when taken internally or externally, and has a calming affect on the nervous system. Try it using the Ayurvedic practice of abhyanga, or self-oil massage. Choose an oil with warming qualities, such as sesame oil. Place the bottle of oil in warm water bath for about five minutes. Next, massage your entire body with the oil starting at the crown of your head and working to your toes. Use long strokes on long bones and circular strokes on joints. As you massage, send loving thoughts to your body to nourish it. Leave the oil on for at least a few minutes or up to an hour. Finally, finish with a hot shower or bath to help your skin digest the oil. Rinse without soup for the best result.
3. Stick to a routine
Vata dosha is mobile and often has us running from one activity to the next, staying up late and waking up even later. Create stability by sticking to regular routines, especially when it comes to sleeping and eating. Try to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time each day. This simple act balances the body’s biorhythms and improves overall health. Also try to eat your meals at the same time each day. Doing so helps your body better prepare for mealtimes and allows you to digest food much easier.
4. Try warming teas instead of cold drinks
Keep your internal system cozy by adding teas made from warming herbs and spices like ginger and cinnamon. Chai, ginger or other spicy teas will all help to improve circulation and digestion so that you stay warm and keep your bowels moving regularly.
To balance all the motion of a busy fall, take time each day to quiet and focus your mind. For at least 10 minutes each day, close you eyes, relax and focus on something specific, like your breath. If you find meditation difficult, try any of my free guided meditations offered here.