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Autumn is the season of windy, dry, and chilly. All the qualities of Vata. It’s really easy, with these windy qualities, to become unbalanced and unstable. In the physical body Vata might manifest as dry skin, cold, constipation, excess movement (tremors), and cracking/popping bones and joints. In the mind, Vata can manifest as spaciness, anxiety, and fear. (If these are your natural tendencies, or current tendencies, you might want to establish Vata pacifying tools year ’round).
Remember that these doshas are not all bad. It is only when they become out of balance that they cause issues and it’s in their primary season that they are most likely to be aggravated. In balance, Vata is responsible for the qualities of creativity, imagination, fresh ideas, spirituality, and the like. Vatas are ether and air types, so they are not confined in their thinking to a box–they are wildly creative and open to new ideas.
But…we do want to keep in balance. A little wind is refreshing and brings enthusiasms to life, but if the winds get too wild, we are blown off course and imbalances can begin to take hold. If not managed, these imbalances can begin to churn into illness and disease.
Simple autumn tips:
Routine. Routine. Routine. Autumn is the time to establish really solid daily rhythms to balance the unstable, all over the place tendencies of Vata. Consistent daily practices and consistent daily self care go a long way to establish health for the long haul.
–Establish healthy consistent sleep, wake, and meal times to allow the body to know what to expect when. The body begins to go into “stress” mode the moment you miss a meal or get a bad night’s sleep. It’s primal: to the body skipped meals means there’s scarcity of food and a bad night’s sleep means there’s danger that keeps us from sleeping. Good rest and deep nutrition is key to a healthy Autumn and a strong immune system for winter.
–Eat warm, nourishing foods. Vata is cold and dry, so your food should be warm and moist (think good healthy fats and deeply nourishing fall vegetables, milk, and even meat). The season is also light, so balance that with heavy seasonal choices like root vegetables and stews. If you are eating a rawer, colder diet, this is a good time to shift to a cooked, warm diet for the coming cold. If you’re eating seasonally, this is usually exactly what Mother Nature is providing.
–Movement. It’s always good to be moving, but (especially if you are a Vata type yourself) this might not be the best time to over challenge and push your physical body. This is a great time to focus more on stretching, with a little bit of sweat and moderate (to light, depending on your body type) physical challenge. The Vata body needs more nourishment and support vs. excess challenge. Enjoy grounding yoga, quiet hikes, walking and gentle jogs, and the like. This is a great time to focus on recovery and healing: caring for joints or any injuries/tendencies you’re working with.
–Stillness. Vata usually is the dosha of the Monkey Mind!! In fact, the thinking mind is very like vata–it’s always on the move, so it’s very hard to quiet a Vata mind. Stillness practices might include simply focusing on turning inward during your physical practices. If you’re a walker, runner, jogger, hiker try turning off the music or audio for quiet movement. Instead of meditation, try Breath work practices (Pranayama) that give the mind a focal point instead of intense quiet. Get a good night’s sleep. Use a heavy oil to ground a jittery body (and SKIP the caffeine). Consider a grounding herb to stabilize a overly wild mind.
–On that same vein, there is a natural spacious and open quality to Autumn that is conducive to connection and union. Autumn is a really sweet time to focus on your personal spiritual practice. Whatever your spiritual practice is, this is a nice time for connecting and exploring. Consider exploring a practice that is not familiar or not your own and see how that feeds your own practice. If you’re feeling really open, try exploring a spiritual practice you are resistant to. In addition to learning something new, it might help your own practice grow. Remember to connect to that open quality; you are not studying to prove that you are right, you are studying to learn.
–Abhyanga: Self Massage. This is the keystone habit of Autumn, winter, and Vata. This is so true that HERE’S HOW. Every day, simply apply a good massage oil generously to your skin. There are as many varieties of oils to choose from as there are people; try starting with a Vata pacifying oil for fall. Take time to allow the oil to absorb, if you have time stretch or settle into stillness. Follow with a warm shower or bath and use a little soap so that any excess oil doesn’t clog your system and become Ama (gunk). Use a soap that is gentle. I’d suggest a neem or sandalwood soap right now. And ladies, don’t over-dry (with soap) those intimate places.
Managing Vata is fairly simple: establish healthy routines and take care of your body, allowing time for rest and recovery. Implementing these practices might not be so easy, especially for a Vata type who is prone to change in an instant.
Think about things that will keep you warm, safe, and nourished. That will balance the cold, dry, unstable qualities of Autumn. Establish routines that feel right for you. Enjoy. Linger and when in doubt try establishing one new practice for yourself this Fall.
Feel free to contact me with follow up questions!!