Green leaves morph to reds, browns, and oranges, then slowly release from their branches, swaying in the breeze until they rest on ground. Winds pick up momentum, grabbing the leaves and rustling them around. The hot, humid months of summer are evaporated by the dry air as the sun hides for longer hours. Animals gather foods and begin to prepare to nestle in for hibernation during the winter months.
Humans are not immune to shifts in the environment. In Ayurveda, autumn is a Vata season, with excess wind and air, and erratic temperature shifts. Vata is one of the three doshas in Ayurveda, correlating with air and ether. As the environment enters a Vata season, our bodies may become imbalanced with too much Vata in our systems.
Excess Vata causes anxiety, insomnia, gas, bloating, fear, the inability to commit or focus, jolts of energy, spacey minds, racing thoughts, cracking joints, dry skin, and more related to excess air in the body. Each dosha is a part of us, including Kapha and Pitta as well as Vata, and it is natural for one or two doshas to dominate others at some points.
However, outside forces like the seasonal changes impact our doshas. Rather than allowing environmental factors to feed more and more Vata into us, here are some tips to maintain as much equilibrium as possible despite the change of season:
What foods do you naturally crave when pumpkin-spice season falls upon us?
Apple pies, warm stews, squash, and fresh apples are all perfect examples of what to eat in Autumn. Foods that are nourishing and warming are what our bodies crave when temperatures drop, and that is exactly what they need to avoid excess Vata.
The raw veggies and salads that we reach for during heatwaves create more air in our digestive systems and may inflame the Vata even more. Instead, aim for soft, hearty, and oily meals, which are grounding and moisturizing. Steam your vegetables, and add spices like coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
For breakfast, a warm porridge with a side of fruit and a homemade pumpkin spice latte is nourishing. Around lunchtime, eat the biggest meal of the day. Include a vegetable like squash, a warm protein, and rice. For dinner, a stew with cooked vegetables and spices will be easy to digest.
Overall, listen to your body and what it is craving. Foods that are warming, moisturizing, and easy to digest will keep you grounded during the transition into Fall. Never skip a meal and avoid fasting during this time of year.
People with dominant Vata follow erratic schedules, love to travel, and are very creative. However, during Vata season it is helpful to create a routine to stay grounded. Wake up, exercise, and eat at the same time every day to create a sense of stability in your life. The best time to exercise is between 6AM – 10AM or 6PM – 10PM.
Try to be in bed by 10AM and get at least 8-9 hours of sleep so your tissues can rest and rejuvenate themselves. Sleep is the best way to reconnect to your body’s natural rhythm. The deepest sleep happens between 10PM – 2AM, so ensure you are in bed during those hours.
Create simple routines in the morning and at not. Include gentle yoga and 10-15 minutes of meditation into one of your routines to further groundedness. Standing and balancing poses enhance the grounding effects even more.
Routines are simple, but they are also grand opportunities to nourish yourself. Short routines are a form of self-care, and they do not have to be fancy. Time to relax and close your eyes for a few minutes calms excess Vata and works wonders to reset your mind. Rub sesame oil on your skin, take deep breaths, and allow yourself a few moments to rejuvenate.
During this seasonal transition, do what makes you feel closer to your roots. As factors outside of you change, a routine along with nourishing foods will help you maintain balance during many of life’s changes.
Author – Carolyn Gladd (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)