As we make the shift from late summer to early fall, the changes in nature are abundant. The leaves are alive with color, only to then become brittle and float away on the wind. The air becomes cool and dry and the rivers slow to a trickle. We begin to make the shift away from the fiery activity of summer. As we turn our focus inward we may notice our bodies are mirroring what is happening in nature.
In Ayurvedic medicine the goal is to balance not only our individual dosha, or constitution, but to also remain in harmony with the shifting seasons. Fall and early winter are Vata season, and the qualities of this dosha tend to be dry, rough, light, cool and ever changing. As we see this happening in our environment it also may manifest in our inner constitutions. Our hair, skin and nails become brittle, the inner thermostat runs cooler, the lightness lends to spaciness and the mobility can cause us to feel less grounded. If these qualities sound familiar, the principles of Ayurveda can help encourage more balance during this time of year.
Vata energy can often feel frenetic, quickly moving from one thing to the next, which can leave us feeling scattered. A steady routine is beneficial for pacifying the Vata dosha. Encourage yourself to wake at the same time each day, preferably at or before the sunrise. Create consistent meal times, with your largest meal at mid-day. Find a rhythm of the day that encourages routine and consistency in order to gather all the pieces in a way that feels manageable and grounding.
Within that rhythm, explore activities that will ground and soothe the scattered energy. Walk in nature, practice yoga, meditate; whatever it is that brings you from the light, airy feeling to the rooted action of the Earth.
The food choices that we make can be extremely beneficial for creating calm in our inner environment. Dry foods, such as raw veggies, popcorn, cereals and crackers, can be aggravating this time of year. Instead choose foods that are warm and heavy, such as cooked root vegetables, squash and sweet potatoes. The heavy, moist quality of oils make them a great choice during this time as well. Dairy products, particularly when warm, are great for Vata season. Try a warm mug of milk spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of honey.
As a yogi, it is important to choose practices that settle and soothe. A mindful vinyasa practice that encourages repetition helps to bring you back to your body. Explore hip openers and forward folds to ground and draw the focus inwards. It can be a lovely time to slow down and nurture yourself in your practice.
When we honor the rhythms of the seasons, we are rewarded with a more balanced constitution. We learn to work with the fluctuations and tune into our inner wisdom and intuition.