Holding your ground this Autumn
Here’s 5 tips to ease you through the Autumn transition…
You only must look around to see how nature is transitioning. I must admit, I was feeling a slight reluctance to let go of the brightness and lightness of the energy that comes with summer. It’s natural to always want the good things to continue, but inevitably, nothing is permanent. And nature is our biggest teacher of the impermanence of life.
Despite my reluctances to welcome Autumn with open arms! I do think there is also a lot to love about this time of year, particularly the display of Autumn berries and the rich, warm colours of Autumn leaves. I have many fond childhood memories of walking to school, kicking my way through the piles of fallen leaves.
And like nature, we are also affected by the change in season and look for ways to hold our ground. There’s something quite comforting about the natural withdrawal and nesting that occurs at this time of year. Warmer blankets are on the bed and it’s time to bring my Ugg Boots out from storage for the cooler months.
It’s definitely taking me longer to move from my bed in the mornings! And I’ve found myself craving and loving reintroducing more warming, comforting foods. Autumn and Winter are the seasons when my British upbringing comes out; I love rich casseroles, creamy mashed potatoes, vegan roasts… food that gives you a big hug!
Autumn is the season of Vata
In Yoga’s sister science Ayurveda, Autumn is associated with the Vata Dosha, which is also represented by the Air and Ether element. Its qualities are cool, dry, light, movement and changeable.
Qualities that are very much like the dominant weather patterns we experience during Autumn, the crisp morning air, the sharp winds, and cooler temperatures. It’s very easy for Vata to become unbalanced during Autumn and if you are not careful, these qualities can impact your body and your mind.
To avoid this imbalance, it’s important to adjust your diet and lifestyle so that you remain, focused, grounded, and balanced.
Vata also regulates the nervous system, the moisture in the body, how you relax and how you digest food.
You may find your mind wandering and being swept away by your imagination, a term we sometime refer to as being ‘airy’. Your skin maybe feeling drier than usual, or you may not be digesting your food as easily as you normally would or you’re experiencing excessive wind or constipation. These are indicators that there’s an imbalance of Vata.
How do you keep your balance during the Autumn transition?
In general, to balance Vata, we learn to apply its opposite qualities to any given imbalance. If there’s dryness you need more moisture, excess movement of your mind and thoughts, you need stillness. If you’re feeling the coolness, then you need warmth.
Here’s 5 Ayurvedic tips to hold your ground and ease you through the Autumn transition…
An Autumn diet should contain foods that are both nourishing and easy to digest. Adjusting your diet to include warmer, heavier, and moist foods, cooked with warmings spices will immediately calm and ground a restless Vata.
A Vata pacifying diet is recommended to combine sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Eat according to the season and increase your intake of grounding root vegetables and include both warming and sweet spices like ginger, cumin, and cinnamon into your diet.
Autumn is the perfect time of year to introduce warm soups, stews, dahls, and dishes like Kitchari into your diet.
Avoid dry, cool raw foods and cold drinks as they can disturb Vata. Instead opt for herbal teas.
Bring stillness into your daily life
Time to read that book you’ve been meaning to pick up! As the season shifts, one of the best ways to hold your ground (to be grounded) is to increase moments of stillness into your life.
Vata will increase through activities that dissipates your energy, physically and mentally. As a result, this will aggravate your nervous system, activating the fight or flight response. Movement is one of the main characteristics of Vata, not just physical movement, but also mental stimulation.
As a society, we are continuously running from A to B and working long hours. We spend too much time in front of the computer, on our mobile phones, or watching television. Add to the mix, continuous late nights, and excessive exercising and we are left with a cocktail of lifestyle factors that will aggravate Vata and create imbalance.
A busy mind, over thinking, experiencing moments of forgetfulness, experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiety and poor sleep, are all a result of an over stimulated nervous system and out of balance Vata.
To decrease Vata enjoy quiet time with plenty sleep and rest. Avoid over stimulation from the TV, computers, mobile phones all the things that drain our energy.
Autumn is the perfect excuse to spend more time at home rather than being out and about. To sit still, meditate, relax, and sleep!
Maintaining regularity by adopting a stable routine.
One of the key principles of maintaining a balanced Vata dosha is routine. Vata needs routine. Routine helps you to stay grounded.
As I mentioned in point two, too many late nights and poor sleep patterns will tip the balance and increase Vata.
A daily routine where you go to bed and awake at the same time every day, even on weekends is one of the best lifestyle tips we could ever recommend.
Establish a bedtime routine, allow time to unwind in the evenings without the stimulation of electronic mobile devises.
Avoid drinking any stimulants like coffee in the evening, instead drink warm chamomile tea to help pacify Vata before you go to sleep.
Regularity and routine for mealtimes and exercise is also important.
Take care of your skin during Autumn.
Like the season Vata is dry. Introducing a grounding self-massage (Abhyanga) is a beautiful gift to give yourself. A daily oil massage with sesame oil is wonderful for pacifying Vata, with particular attention to the soles of the feet and the scalp.
Incorporate this before bedtime to help you to relax and ease you into a sound sleep.
Yoga and Meditation
Just like your diet and lifestyle habits, you also need to adjust your yoga and Meditation practice or incorporating a practice to suit the season.
A practice where the focus is to incorporate postures that are grounding. Practices that are warming for the body and the abdominal fire to keep the digestive system functioning.
Spinal twists, that will also massage the digestive system to help remove toxins. Forward bends will help to relax the mind.
Use movement that will work into the key joints to keep them lubricated so that the Prana (energy) can move freely.
Incorporate pranayama and meditation practices for maintaining balance, staying grounded and helping to find calmness and stillness.
We hope you find these tips useful. Please feel free to help share the love and wisdom of yoga with a loved one who you may feel will benefit from this blog.