This past weekend marked the Autumn Equinox and the beginning of the Ayurvedic Vata season. Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, often correlates seasonal changes with physical and mental changes we may experience within our bodies and minds. Fall is associated with dryness, spontaneity, creativity, airiness, and anxiety.
Too much Vata and you may be left feeling unable to focus, nervous, or overwhelmed with excessive speech or thoughts. An overload of Vata in the body may be causing symptoms like lack of appetite, joint stiffness, and dry skin. In order to balance these characteristics we must pay close attention to how we nourish our bodies through diet, movement, and spiritual practices. Here are a few simple suggestions for some things you can do in each area to help welcome this exciting new season:
Movement: Get Grounded
Try to integrate more standing poses like Warrior 1 and 2, Side Angle Pose, and Triangle. Make sure when you are moving from one pose to the next you avoid any hops or quick transitions. Rather, to combat the frenzied Vata energy, you hold the poses for longer and slowly, deliberately transition from one to the next. During your practice, you can engage your Mula Bandha for more stability and focus on longer exhales to ground your mind.
Nutrition: Warm Up
As the weather cools, our need to heat up increases. Warm yourself from the inside out. Start with warm lemon water in the mornings and spicy herbal teas throughout the afternoon. For lunch and dinner, try cooked vegetables like asparagus, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes with lots of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Avoid sweets, cold dishes or drinks, dry fruits (apples or pears), and dairy products.
Mindfulness: Create Structure
It is important to create a routine during the Vata intense season in order to help the mind stay focused, and the body stay regular. Make a point to engage in some daily rituals like morning dry brushing (great for detoxification), Abhyanga/oil massage, or a warming meditation accompanied by soothing music. Other suggestions would be to choose movement activities that are not too strenuous, but instead focus on flexibility and balance. Seek out Hatha or Yin classes over Vinyasa based yoga in order to keep yourself balanced.
Spirituality: Feel Connected
Fall is one of the best seasons to get outside and experience nature’s transformation for yourself. Find a local park or hiking trail where you can sit and notice the brisk autumn winds, dewy mornings, and crinkly colored leaves. Do your best throughout the week to remind yourself of this connection you have with nature. Maybe it means having a small token, such as a beautiful leaf or pinecone, that sits with you on your desk. Another idea would be to rise early; Ayurveda recommends 6 AM during the Autumn months so that you can get the most sunlight possible as our days begin to shorten.
A San Diego native, Emily moved to the Bay Area four years ago to work with small businesses and non-profits and help them share their stories. Outside of work you can find her hiking the Oakland hills with her dogs, cooking up healthy eats, or volunteering with organizations like Bay Area Wilderness Training.