Fall is Vata season. The air is dry, temperatures are colder, and the weather is unpredictable. Leaves crunch and the wind howls as life slowly sinks back into its roots. Autumn brings a downward energy, grounding our bodies and minds, and even our food, into the earth. It’s the ideal time to focus on our colon. The dryness of the season can lead to internal “dryness” with symptoms including dry skin and constipation. As it gets colder, the body draws blood from the limbs to the core to preserve heat. Your skin appears more pale, muscles feel tired, and hands and feet feel cold. At the core, more blood is nourishing your internal organs. This brings a renewed vigor in your appetite, with more cravings for starchy and heavy foods. Your body attempts to build a layer of insulating fat to help you stay warm and build immunity, strength and stamina. Your nervous system is easily scattered in the fall so pay attention to your regular routine.
Counteract dryness and build fall immunity.
Bring daily self massage into your routine. Use sesame oil for Vata, coconut for Pitta, olive oil for Kapha. Joints tend to be more dehydrated in the fall and love to be oiled. Before the massage you can dry brush your body to stimulate circulation. Hydrate with lots of water, warm or room temperature, herbal teas, no ice!
Food is medicine in Ayurveda. Your diet should include warm, oily, heavy comfort foods which build ojas (radiance). These foods provide the nourishment your body needs to build a layer of protective insulating fat while calming anxieties (vata imbalance in the mind and emotions). Sweet taste (root vegetables, rice) is nourishing, grounding, and helps build strength. Salty taste will keep you moisturized and hydrated. Sour taste (a splash of lemon) keeps the palate moist and digestion strong. Eat warming foods such as cozy soups, warm applesauce, root vegetables, nuts, seeds, and bone broths. Use good quality oils, ghee, sesame oil, coconut oil. Avoid spicy foods. Use mild spices in moderation, including salt, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, garlic, onion, thyme to help digest heavier foods.
Herbal remedies help you rest, rejuvenate and fortify your body : a cup of Dashamoola tea, Ashwaganda, licorice root. To warm your core, use cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger. Haritaki helps to combat dryness in the colon. Nutmeg helps calm the nerves.
It’s the time of harvest and preparation for the upcoming winter.
Just as the bulbs need winter dark and cold to grow in springtime, so do we need the quiet and reflective time to look at ourselves. Since the nervous system is easily scattered in the fall, establish more order in your life, regular mealtimes, regular sleep routine, regular exercise. Avoid overstimulation, travel or change, and seek quality time with loved ones. Clear out old patterns. In Chinese medicine the lungs and large intestine are related to Fall. This is a time of letting go. Reflect, recalibrate, rebalance. A simple and effective tool is breathing. The very act of conscious breathing enables us to let go of the unwanted as we fully and deeply exhale. Slowing down the breath brings mental clarity and a nicely balanced emotional state. Try coherent breathing – 6 breaths in a minute (inhale 5 counts, exhale 5 counts.) Do this breathing for five minutes, three times a day. Try adding heart-focused breathing: imagine the breath coming through your heart.
Enjoy your colorful fall with these tips and honor the light that was provided in the summer. This evening, put on your warm socks, light a candle, and cuddle up on the couch with a nice warm cup of tea.