The fall is finally here, and with the leaves changing color, comes a cooler, more crisp feeling in the air. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health, it’s said that our bodies and our minds sync up with each season and require different things as they change. In Ayurveda, Autumn is known as "vata" season, characterized by a rise in the air element, which can bring some tricky health challenges. Luckily, this ancient system all offers us ways to cope.
The ending of summer's hot, lively energy is counteracted by more introverted, retracted energy as we begin to gear up for winter. Unfortunately, this change can come with problems like heightened anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and a lack of concentration. As our focus goes from being active and having fun to turning inward and reflecting, it's important for us to support our bodies and our minds with daily habits that help us feel stable, warm, and grounded. So if the changing of the seasons has gotten the best of you, here are a few Ayurvedic practices that will get you back to balance.
Warm up your diet.
During the fall season, Ayurveda says that it’s especially helpful to add heavier, more satiating foods to our diets. Include more fats from avocados, flax, and fatty fish to help you feel stable and grounded. The way you prepare your food matters, too. Favor warm, nourishing soups and stews with seasonal vegetables like pumpkin, carrots, okra, and winter squashes. It’s also helpful to consume more heating spices such as ginger, paprika, cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Try an oil massage.
Giving yourself an oil massage before taking a warm shower in the evening is a great Ayurvedic practice that will help you get a good night's sleep this season. Because the air is dryer in the fall months, our skin and hair tend to dry out, so an oil massage is also a great beauty treatment, too!
Ayurveda suggests giving yourself a thorough rub down with high-quality sesame oil before a warm shower. To do this, warm some oil for a few seconds in the microwave or over the stove (careful not to heat it too much, or you could burn yourself!). Use a spoon to stir the oil, ensuring heat is distributed evenly. Once warmed, apply the oil to your skin with your hands, starting at the feet and working your way up. Rub the oil on your limbs in sweeping motions toward the heart to increase circulation, and in clockwise motions around the joints to help lubricate them. This practice will increase your sense of warmth and safety in your body and mind while providing great health benefits!
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you can also add some lavender, vetiver, or geranium essential oil. These are also perfect for vata season because of their soothing and relaxing qualities. After a little rub down, you’ll be drifting off to catch those precious Z’s in no time!
Create a stable daily routine.
Ayurveda proposes that during the fall season, we can become overwhelmed by the possibility of impending changes in our lives. In other words, we become more fearful of the unknown. In order to counteract this anxiousness, it’s suggested that we establish more stable routines to give our minds a sense of ease. Having a morning ritual, waking up, eating meals, and going to bed at the same time each day can help you create a sense of calm and peace in your mind. And if you're into it, why not try a daily meditation practice?
Incorporating a breathing practice into your daily routine can work wonders when it comes to balancing the unstable feelings of vata season. During this time of year, our breath can become short and confined in the chest as we’re experiencing more fearfulness and anxiety. Taking deep breaths into the belly is a great way to calm the mind and bring a sense of balance.
Breathing into the belly is also known to affect the parasympathetic nervous system and lower your response to stress. Dial down your fight-or-flight response by breathing deeply into your belly, inhaling for four seconds, holding the breath for four seconds, and then exhaling for six to eight seconds. You can do this any time of day for any length of time, but adding a deep breathing practice in the early morning or before bed is advised. And if you’re ready to take your breathing practice to the next level, alternate nostril breathing is an ayurvedic practice said to bring balance between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Check out how to do it here!
We're wishing you a restful, balanced season to come!