As the air changes and the energy shifts it is important that we also change with the seasons — just as nature does — by adapting our daily habits and lifestyle accordingly. Ironically, it is only through change that we can stay grounded during this shifting season.
An Ayurvedic Approach to Autumn
According to the ancient system of Ayurveda, a sister science to yoga, there are three primary dosha’s or energies – vata, pitta and kapha. Just as each person has a dosha that predominates, each season is also dominated by one of the three doshas.
The vata dosha is most prevalent during autumn. Vata governs movement in the body, as well as activating the nervous system and the processes of elimination. The qualities of vata are cold, dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular and moving. Vata is composed of the elements of air and space. Because of vata’s association with the nervous system, its state is often reflected in our mental health.
With the abundance of vata energy circulating during the autumn, our bodies and minds can become overwhelmed and out of balance. During this time of year, you may feel unsettled, ungrounded or even a little depressed. But while we cannot change the seasonal weather shifts, we can maintain internal balance by adjusting our lifestyles to counter the predominant vata energy in nature. We do this by incorporating particular lifestyle choices that naturally hold the opposite qualities of the vata dosha.
Yoga Asanas (poses) & Pranayama (breathing)
Autumn is good time to look again at establishing a regular yoga practice if you don’t already have one! Strong standing poses, holding poses a little longer and a longer savasana (relaxation) are all excellent ways to help us be more grounded at this time of year. Poses that focus on the lungs and large intestines, which are the two organs associated with the autumn season, should be included in your yoga practice. Twists, back bends and side stretches are all good, and sun salutations can warm the body during the chill of autumn.
It can be easier said than done, but it is best to establish a routine around eating by eating three meals a day, preferably at the same time each day. Try to avoid skipping meals and sporadic grazing, and be sure to sit down while enjoying your food. Here are some other tips:
- Drink a large glass of warm water with lemon juice upon waking.
- Eat lots of warm soups.
- Choose foods that are warm, cooked and moist. Avoid too many raw veggies and salads, as these are vata provoking.
- Drink warm tea of fresh ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. This will warm the body and enhance circulation and digestion. If not this tea, aim to drink some kind of warm beverage.
- Eat root vegetables to enhance your connection to the earth.
- Sweet, salty and sour tastes are calming to vata.
- Try to get a full eight hours of sleep and awake when the sun rises, which may mean going to sleep by 10.00 pm.
- Consistent, moderate exercise regulates vata’s mobile nature, so make sure to schedule time for physical activity.
- Curb the tendency to talk unnecessarily, and settle into the rejuvenation of silence whenever possible.
- Use a neti pot to help keeps the lungs clear of congestion.
- Use grounding and calming essential oils to reduce the vata emotions of anxiety, depression, fear and nervousness.
- Commit to a daily japa meditation practice to assist in quieting and grounding the active vata mind.
- Practice right nostril breathing: Close your left nostril using the ring finger on your right hand. Inhale through your right nostril for 6-8 seconds, then exhale through the same nostril for 5-7 seconds. Repeat for 7-10 rounds, a few times a day. This will enhance the sun energy that helps keep the body warm as the temperature drops.
- Use a good quality moisturiser on the skin to keep dryness at bay. The essential oils of frankincense, lavender, sandalwood, rose, myrrh in a carrier of coconut oil work very well as a natural support for the skin.
We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.