In Ayurveda, one of the fundamental concepts is that of the doshas. These are energetic forces of nature, consisting of vata, pitta, and kapha. All three are vital for us in some way as each has specific functional roles to play in the body. Since your health is so intricately related to the doshas, the doshas being out of balance leads to your health suffering.
The five elements; air, ether (space), fire, water, and earth are the basic building blocks of the material world. Kapha is characterized by the binding nature of water energy, pitta of the fire energy, and vata embodies the fluid nature of wind or air energy.
During fall, the change of seasons can throw your inner balance out the window. You may find that you have issues with your sleep pattern, digestion, appetite, and mood. In order to manage your health and energy during this season, you can try out these practices which will nourish, warm and calm you.1
1. Ditch Gadgets And Electronics
Vata regulates all movement, including the nervous system. Activities such as watching television and using electronic devices stimulate the nerves, which could aggravate vata. Pick up a book instead of switching on the television when you wind down at the end of the day. Since your mind is whirring due to the use of electronics before sleep, it can be harder to relax and go to sleep. The technology can make your brain into thinking that it needs to stay awake. The late-night message and email alerts that you get can reduce the quality of your sleep.
Studies show that being exposed to even small amounts of light from an electronic device like computer, television, tablet, or smartphone can affect the production of melatonin. Melatonin is what regulates sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythms). It has also been reported that those who use more of these electronic devices are the ones who are more likely to report symptoms of insomnia. They may find it harder to fall asleep and to stay in deep sleep.
The blue light emitted from electronics is linked to increased risk of developing certain types of cancers (such as breast and prostate). It also weakens your immune system and at risk of developing certain cardio-metabolic diseases like diabetes mellitus type 2 and obesity.
2. Maintain A Regular Schedule
During the vata season, it is particularly useful to stick to a routine. Decide upon a set schedule to eat your meals and to sleep. Ideally, you should sleep between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. You can get your body used to a schedule by doing the same activities each night when it is time to sleep. For example, take a hot shower and then get into bed with a book. Having routines improve your overall health.2
3. Practice Meditation
Vata season is notorious for being known as the time of year when the focus is lowest and pain is highest. Meditation helps elevate both these problems. Meditation also helps deal with stress, worries, and overthinking. That is why it helps to meditate in the evening when you can calm the mind, and prepare it for sleep. Your nervous system will also be calmer after practicing meditation.3
4. Massage Your Body With Oil
In order to counteract the vata season, an oil massage can be very helpful. It is highly recommended in Ayurveda. Oil massage will give you a much-needed push towards stability. It also provides warmth and moisturizes the whole body, which is necessary for the dry season.
Oiling even just the feet at night will help you sleep better. It calms the nervous system and prepares your body for sleep. The Sanskrit word for the practice of massaging the body with oil is “abhyanga”. Abhyanga is translated as “moving into the body”. The touch of your skin is used to heal and nurture yourself. It is best to use warmed sesame oil for your massage, but any type of oil will help the body and mind.
5. Drink Something Warm
Warm drinks are soothing and help us get comfortable. This does not mean that you binge on hot coffee at night. Avoid caffeinated drinks altogether. Go for warm soy, almond or rice milk (or normal milk from dairy). You could also add some warming spices like cumin, cinnamon, ginger or black pepper.
6. Smell Your Worries Away
If you have too many thoughts running through your mind, it may become difficult to fall asleep. The same applies to emotions. Certain scents can help ground you and sort out your emotions. The best scents for the season include geranium, cardamom, ginger, lemon, jasmine, neroli, oregano, patchouli, nutmeg, rose, sandalwood, saffron, and vanilla.
Managing your vata becomes particularly important during the colder months because when out of balance, it may cause anxiety, fear, isolation, and even exhaustion (both physical and emotional). Practicing these, especially at night, will help you maintain your inner balance.