Autumn is a time of transition. This is visible in nature by the trees losing their leaves, the wind starting to get stronger and the temperatures changing from the heat of summer to the fresh coolness of autumn. Just as nature around us is undergoing a transformation, many things happen in our bodies with the changing of the seasons.
In this article, you’ll read more about Vata dosha and receive 10 practical tips to stay balanced during autumn.
Autumn is Vata season
When thinking of autumn you think of wind & storm, the leaves falling from the trees, and cooling temperatures. Nature is getting ready for the cold season.
Autumn is dominated by the Air element, which is why we see it as Vata season. Vata is the life force, also called prana or life energy. It consists of the elements Air & Ether and regulates all movement in body and mind. Vata has equal qualities to autumn: dry, cool, mobile, subtle, and rough.
Have you ever heard of the principle of “like increases like”? This is one of the basic principles in Ayurveda. Since the qualities of autumn are equal to Vata’s, Vata dosha is more prone to getting imbalanced this season. This is also true if the predominant dosha in your constitution is not Vata but another dosha. And that’s exactly why we in Ayurveda take into account the seasons in our choices regarding diet and lifestyle.
Vata off balance
How do you notice when your Vata is out of balance?
When Vata is out of balance, it’s harder to feel grounded. You’re having a hard time concentrating and you might feel anxious, nervous, and depressed more quickly. You find it difficult to remain at peace and constantly feel the urge to move or entertain your senses. You’re also easily distracted by your relationships with others, you may talk too much and it is more difficult to passively listen to the other person. You may also suffer from insomnia or wake up very early in the morning.
Physically, an imbalance can express itself as a bloated abdomen, flatulence, dry skin, creaking joints or energy dips throughout the day. Also, your hormones are strongly influenced by Vata. If you have menstrual symptoms or hormonal fluctuations, it is wise to take a look at your Vata.
10 tips to keep your Vata happy
The best way to balance Vata is to nourish and relax your body, mind, and soul. This ensures a soft landing in this season of transition and movement.
Here are 10 tips to keep your Vata in balance:
1. Having a daily routine is in itself calming for Vata. Try to get up, go to bed, work, eat, and so on at the same time every day.
2. Nature often naturally gives us exactly the nutrition we need. If you eat locally and seasonally, you’re already halfway there. In autumn, the sweet, sour, and salty flavours are more present, and these are the flavours that balance Vata. Eat sufficient grains, root vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, soups and stews.
3. Eat your food warm, oily, and seasoned; typical autumnal comfort food that feeds you on a deep level. Be more careful with light, cold, and dried foods such as crackers, salads, and raw vegetables. Use warming herbs such as cinnamon, cumin, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, and cloves abundantly in your meals. This helps to warm you from the inside and stoke your digestive fire.
4. Regularly give yourself a full body massage (don’t forget your ears and scalp) with cold-pressed, organic sesame oil warmed to 40 degrees Celsius. This is the ultimate way to calm your nervous system. Do the massage in the morning and leave the oil for 20 minutes (make sure you stay warm), then rinse the oil in a hot shower. If a thin layer of oil remains on your skin, this is perfectly fine.
5. When suffering from insomnia, oil your feet with warm sesame oil. Put on socks afterwards and get into bed. This will boost your sleep.
6. Allow yourself a gentle, grounding, and strengthening yoga practice. In your asana practice, this may mean keeping your gaze low and moving slowly and with attention. Focus on grounding your feet and hands when they hit the ground – this helps reduce anxiety and stress. Practice hip openers and poses for the lower back and do so with attention and love. Vatas often tend to hang in the lower back, avoid this and opt for strengthening exercises such as the cobra and locust. Standing and seated forward folds, such as paschimottanasana, seated butterfly, uttanasana, and child’s pose are great for Vata. Strengthen your core with boat pose, plank postures, and an overall sense of awareness of your core in your practice. Also, a grounding yin-practice focused on the lower body can be great.
7. As pranayama, nadi shodana and bhramari pranayama are great for calming the nervous system and mind, reducing stress, and providing a great sense of rest.
8. Give your senses a break by using less internet, less social media and less TV. Instead, read books that increase your sense of security, faith, and purpose in the world.
9. Create a safe and warm home environment with warm colors and scents. Also, wear clothing in warm colors, such as earth tones and reds.
10. Rest, rest, rest! Sleep enough but also take enough time during the day to relax. Allow yourself that extra yoga nidra session, an hour on the couch with a good book or a nice walk in nature.
Vata is called the King of Doshas. If your Vata is out of balance, it is also more difficult for the other doshas to stay balanced. By taking good care of yourself in autumn, you reap benefits all year round!
I wrote this blog for Happy with Yoga: happywithyoga.com