by Morgan Webert
Today marks the turning of seasons, half way between the longest and the shortest day of the year, and an opportunity to reflect on how we ourselves turn and dance with the seasons.
As we come out of the hot Australian summer and enter into the cooler, windier weather of Autumn we can spin out of balance if we don’t pause and consciously sync our daily rhythms to the rhythm of nature. This is why yogis traditionally do purification practices and cleansing in Autumn and Spring as a way to align their habits with season.
Having you been feeling unfocused, overwhelmed, mentally scattered or noticed dry skin and bloating? These are all signs of too much Vata energy, and there’s no surprise to see these symptoms as Autumn is ruled by Vata, the energy of air and ether.
As someone who has a Vata mind I recently noticed I was feeling anxious, overthinking and too busy. I also noticed that I was eating mostly raw, as I do in the summer and doing fast movement exercise, both of which increase Vata. Combined with the external movement and airiness of the season I was putting myself into Vata over-drive, hence feeling ungrounded.
But don’t worry, just because the season is unstable doesn’t mean you have to lose your inner balance to the elements. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda has some simple recommendations to stay in balance with the seasons, always keeping in mind the motto “like increases like, and opposites balance.”
Autumn, dominated by air and ether, has the qualities of movement, lightness, dryness and cool. Those of us who already have a lot of these qualities in our constitution (and most of us in western culture do) need to take extra care to shift our daily habits to include the opposite qualities. Focus on adding more warmth, moisture, regularity and stability.
In a nutshell we want to focus on Vata balancing foods, lifestyle and environments. Below you’ll find simple ways to keep the energy of Vata in check and your inner environment content and happy.
- Favor warm food and drinks.
- Reduce raw food and add in more cooked foods.
- Include more heavy and oily foods in your diet as Autumn is drying.
- Keep well hydrated. Sip warm water throughout the day
Fruits and Vegetables
- Reduce dried fruit, cranberries, pears, sour apples, pomegranate and watermelon as these bring air element into the body.
- Increase apricots, avocados, bananas, cherries, coconuts, lemons, mango, oranges, papaya and peaches which all are more grounding.
- Reduce broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, raw onions and tomatoes.
- Increase root vegetables, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumber, green beans, radishes, cooked onion, pumpkin and squash which all have sweet, heavy smooth, dense and moist qualities that balance Vata.
Vata stays in balance best when we stick to routines and schedules. Because the season is already full of the energy of movement and change we need to balance that by really sticking to or creating stability through routine. And because the energy of the season tends toward outward dispersion putting a few self care practices into the routine will tremendously benefit an ungrounded Vata.
- Eat at the same time every day.
- Go to bed at regular times (ideally by 10pm).
- Include warm oil massage in your morning or evening routine.
- Take time to meditate each day.
- Chose slower, stronger physical exercise as opposed to fast and frantic.
- Walk barefoot on the Earth as much as possible.
The external environment has tremendous impact on the internal environment, that’s why we see things like seasonal depression, joy and vigor in Spring, or for some aggravation in the heat of Summer. The windy, shifty weather of Autumn can be unsettling, simply notice if it has this effect on you, and create a stable micro climate.
- Cover your head on windy days.
- Avoid sleeping in a cold draft.
- Use a humidifier at night if your sinuses feel dry.