Autumn, my favourite time of the year. It is a time of transition; leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees, the temperature is changing and the air is becoming crisper; there is a whole new crop of fruits and vegetables that are available, inviting us to have more cooked food and grounding meals.
Ayurveda sees Autumn as a vata dominant season. The qualities of vata are dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular, and mobile. Vata governs the nervous system, movement in the body, and elimination. Because of vata’s relationship to the nervous system, it’s not unusual for us to experience some overwhelm at this time of year and feel a little unsettled emotionally & mentally. This can manifest physically as dry skin, dry hair, stiffness in the joints, we can also experience constipation. These symptoms may be more noticeable if our personal constitution is vata dominant.
Although, we have no control over the changing seasons, we can incorporate some lifestyle adjustments to help us better manage our mental & physical health at this time of year, by incorporating food, exercise and lifestyle choices that naturally reflect the opposite qualities to vata.
Now is the time of year to reduce raw, cold food and turn toward more cooked, nourishing, and grounding foods. Add spices such as ginger, cardamom and cinnamon, to your food as well as tea. These are naturally warming to the system and will support circulation and digestion.
A consistent routine is important for vata. Going to bed and waking up,exercising and eating at the same time each day will help balance vata’s irregular energy. Self-massage (abhyanga) with warm oil will lubricate the skin, keeping it moist and soft, is wonderful for stiff joints, and also has a very calming effect on the nervous system.
Regular and moderate exercise at this time of year will assist in calming vata. A slow, grounding, & mindful āsana practice at a similar time each day will do wonders for your general level of well-being. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a long practice, keep it short and pleasant, something you want to come back to again and again. Add conscious breathing and meditation to your āsana practice and you will just feel better and better!
Autumn can be a soothing balm after the intensity and heat of summer; a time to turn inward and allow ourselves some well-earned time out. Enjoy!