Fall is officially here, and with it, lazy beach days and easy routines give way to warm layers and hot coffee. The transition can throw us off balance and leave us feeling ungrounded and here is where Ayurveda comes in. Ayurveda translates to the “science of life”. It teaches us how to effectively balance our body and mind with the natural rhythms of nature using ancient techniques practiced for thousands of years. Ayurveda uses a system of three doshas, or energies, to represent the interplay of elements in our internal and external environments. They are Vata, Pita and Kapha - corresponding to the qualities of air, earth, water, fire and ether.
The transition from summer to autumn is represented by a shift from Pita to Vata. The qualities of Vata are light, subtle, dry, mobile, rough, and cold. Balanced Vata allows for creativity, vitality, and lightness; unbalanced, it can lead to anxiety and fear. As Vata predominates the fall air, it can cause a corresponding excess in our internal environment. During this time, it’s important to slow down and give yourself a chance to reconnect using grounding practices and warm foods. Here are a few tips to help you maintain balance as autumn rolls in.
Grounding practices are key to pacifying Vata. Its airy nature can leave us feeling restless and disconnected. Taking time every day to come back to ourselves - whether through a cup of tea or a quick mediation - allows us the space to just exist and experience, releasing what no longer serves us and coming back into the moment. Start with a practice that you already know to be grounding and build up from there. From a 10 minute journal or meditation in the morning to a full blown routine, the essence is in the mindful execution of self-loving acts. While these techniques may not decrease stress, anxiety or feelings of overwhelm, they can reorient how you relate to them which can make all the difference.
An abhayanga massage is a full-body oil massage. It’s an essential Ayurvedic practice that instantly helps reduce anxiety, stress, and excess vata. Simply pour 1-2 Tbs of oil into the palm of your hand and gently massage it all over your body. Hop in the shower to rinse off and step out with glowing, supple skin. We recommend organic sesame oil as a perfect to counterbalance the season’s cold, dry qualities. The simple, loving act of applying the oil to your skin is relaxing and grounding, leaving a feeling of warmth and stability in its wake.
To pacify Vata's cold, airy qualities stick to warm, easily digestible meals like soups, rice, and cooked root vegetables. Ante-up on healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and ghee; spiced teas such as ginger, licorice, and cinnamon; and spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, and black pepper. Avoid raw food and salads; bitter or astringent foods; processed foods; caffeine and dry snack food. While it's difficult (and, let's face it, often unrealistic) to stick to these rules 24/7, if you find yourself feeling out of balance, take a look at what you've been consuming and adjust accordingly. Even implementing this diet for a few days can help to balance out a bout of ungrounded energy. Try a grounding turmeric milk before bed to boost immunity, soothe your system and promote sound sleep. Melt 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom powder into one cup of warm milk. When the spices have melted, add 1 tsp of raw honey.
Vata is quick and airy and an imbalance can give rise to feelings of anxiety and fear. While grounding daily practices can help center us from day-to-day, sometimes a full blown step back is necessary. If you’re feeling particularly out of balance, it’s essential to take time to slow down and re-align. Honor the season - take a mental health day or go on a weekend retreat. Respect and nurture your body-mind so it can do the same for you in return.
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