Autumn is a real challenge to many people. Autumn is governed by Vata. Vata is the bioforce that manages air and ether within our system. These two elements are most subtle and light and therefore more easily influenced than other elements (fire, water, earth). This makes Vata seasons challenging for all of us, but especially for those who have a more Vata based nature.
What symptoms arise when Vata becomes excessive in the system? Digestive issues like irregular appetite, after meal dip, feeling bloated, irregular stools or even constipation may occur. Fatigue and feeling of weakness arise as the wind seems to blow all our energy out of our system, leaving us empty. At the same time the dry quality of autumn can also cause dry skin, dry hair. And last but not least the mobile, irregular qualities of Vata can effect the mind, causing excessive thinking, worry and a feeling of being overwhelmed and flustered. Too much of the element space in the mind can literally make you feel ‘spaced out’….
In this article I would like to give you a general tips to pacify Vata dosha. Know that in the end Ayurveda is an individual based system of medicine and a personalized approach is always best.
Make sure that you eat a Vata balancing diet. This means warm, nourishing foods that are still light to digest. Soups and stews made of root vegetables cooked with some warming spices and alongside a piece of sourdough bread with ghee would be an asome choice!
Increase the neutral sweet (grains, root vegetables: lets say the healthy carbohydrates) , the sour and the salty taste. So a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of rock salt can make all the difference. Don’t overdo either of them. Too much salt dries the system (increasing vata) and too much sour taste is stimulating and increases Pitta dosha.
Try to keep the following qualities in mind as you cook your food: warm, liquid, smooth, soft. So if you have a pumpkin… instead of baking it in the oven, making it dry and rough, make a pumpkin soup. Instead of having cold yoghurt in the morning, make warm oatmeal with some milk or some substitute for milk to make it more creamy, smooth and soft.
Use warming spices. Energetically warm your food by using warming spices to cook your food. Like cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, basil, asafetida, cilantro, fennel, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme, and black pepper (don’t overdo ginger, mustard, asafetida and black pepper when you also have Pitta in your nature).
Use ghee. Ghee (clarrified butter) has many health benefits (if you want to read more about it and how to make, ghee, click HERE). Add a teaspoon of ghee in the morning to your oatmeal, spread a little on your bread and cook with it. The oily qualities of ghee balance the dry qualities of Vata.
The word. Routine. To balance the irregular quality of Vata dosha we need routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time. Don’t skip on meals, eat at set times, be present in the moment. Find yourself a ritual that you practice on a certain time that helps you to ground, be in the present moment and calm your mind. Make your house cozy and warm: a place to come home to.
One of the most powerful ways to pacify Vata is warm oil massage. Regular. So buy yourself a bottle of cold pressed biological sesame oil. Find a way to warm it (au bain marie or buy a heater) and make it a ritual to massage yourself in the morning, BEFORE shower, with warm oil. And please, make it a conscious act and appreciate your body as you do so. Apart from all its benefits (read my full article on its benefits and how it battles stress here) it is a perfect way to connect to your body and love it for all its bumps and curves and cellulite. Stay warm as you let the warm oil sit for 20 min (you can do some gentle yoga in the mean time). And then rinse it off in the shower. No need to use soap. You will not only feel how it contributes to a smooth and beautiful skin, but also how it soothes the whole nervous system, leaving you feel grounded, and calm.
So what are you waiting for: buy yourself the oil and treat yourself at least 1-2 a month to a massage by an expert. If you come to me I will use special medicated herbal oils that fits your constitution.
Note: those with excessive Kapha and or ama in the system cannot do oil massage. They should first detox the system. Book a consultation to find out. I will help you detox first, after that oil massage is yours too (different frequencies according to doshic make up). You want to read more about detox in fall? Read about it here.
Vata has a mobile and irregular quality to it. That means in itself it is already active. That means that excessive exercise is not recommended. It can further increase fatique, dry you up (due to sweating) and activate the mind more. However, we want to keep the prana flowing and the body souple (excessive Vata can lead to stiffness, especially in the back). Therefore I recommend you a gentle yoga practice or a stroll in the parc on a sunny autumn day (catch some vitamin D when its there!). For your yoga practice, focus on: gentle twists to release build up tension from the spine, forward bends: they are grounding and calming to the mind; standing and balancing postures that help you feel grounded: tadasana, virabhradasana I, II, tree pose. Seated postures like sukhasana and virasana. Hip openers, such as pigeon pose and lotus. Ending with legs up the wall, supta baddha konasana and a nice long savasana to integrate your practice and calm the nervous system. Also grounding, nourishing and calming practices like Yoga Nidra and Restorative yoga do wonders for a restless, nervous and/or anxious body and mind.
To conclude. Listen to your body. If your body tells you you need more rest, give it more rest. It is natural that in autumn we prepare for winter and as days get shorter we feel more need to stay indoors, relax ourselves warm on the couch and watch a movie. We are not the same in autumn as we are in summer, so having that expectation would be unnatural. However, there is a difference between slowing down and getting stuck. So don’t become an indoor zombie either.
Extra tip: check on your vitamine D levels and take vitamin D3 to compensate for the lack of vitamin D production due to lack of sun hours and sun intensity.
I wish you all the best getting through this season. If this is not your season, let me help you balance your body and mind by personalized Ayurvedic coaching. Just send me a message to make an appointment. Go to contact form