Fall is a beautiful time of year with its vibrant colors and crisp mornings. But the perils of the season, in terms of health and well-being, are real and must not to be ignored. In Ayurveda, we believe autumn is the vata season dominated by cold, dry, and rough conditions.
Vata represents the combination of ether and air, the environment for mobility and movement. When winds blow colder, the leaves—and our surroundings in general—start to dry up in preparation for winter. This time period can contribute to lots of imbalances in the body and the mind that may lead to unpleasant symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety, accumulation of stress, constipation, colds and flu, joint pains and increased seasonal allergies.
Here are four Ayurvedic tips to help you balance the effects of these environmental changes the impact the body, mind and emotions.
1. Eat for the season.
This is always the rule in Ayurveda, but, during this time of year, it is particularly valuable. I remind myself daily to opt for warm, cooked foods whenever possible and avoid crisp, dry ones. The season offers pumpkin, squash, pomegranate, and apples, to name a few, and these are all perfect in warm preparations like stews and soups.
2. Go for excellence not perfection.
Look for balance in everything you do from work to relationships to exercise. This translates into seeking excellence instead of perfection. Aim for a smooth flow of exertion where you remain able to breathe long and deeply throughout the day. Choose exercises and practices that help you feel grounded and stabile. For example, if you select yoga, then do it in a fluid, measured, and warming way. Keep your gaze steady and soft at the horizon line and think of slow, rhythmic movements with plenty of twists and counter-twists. Include standing poses, planks, seated twists, poses that build heat while feeling grounded like warriors and chair pose.
3. Use the healing powers of scent.
Essential oils are easy-to-use therapeutic tools. Just let your nose select the scent that you like best and then use it like a little happiness inhaler. Sniff as necessary. This time of year your choices might include patchouli, vetiver, rose geranium, sweet orange, jasmine, and neroli.
4. Breath for health, calmness, and clarity.
A classic technique, called Alternate Nostril Breathing (check out the featured video), is a simple practice with optimal benefits believed to balance the two sides of the brain. Its calming effects on the nervous system are well-documented in Ayurvedic literature. Even just 3 minutes daily will provide results, but the longer you can practice, the better. Twice daily, morning and before bedtime, is ideal.
By Lisa Hedley