If you've ever met me, you may well know that autumn is my absolute most favourite time of year.
I love the colours, the warming foods, the clothes (hellooooo cozy socks, boots and jumpers!!), the rich, golden light of the sun, the long shadows cast upon the ground as the Earth begins to tilt towards the eternity of space, the smokey and earthy scent in the air. I could go on waxing poetic....
It is a time in nature where everything is preparing and bedding down for the forthcoming winter. I know you can feel this drawing down energy as well, if you are fully aware of it or not.
We want to sleep more. We want to cozy in on a night with a fire and blankets and a cuppa.
I am here to tell you that it is perfectly natural. Humans are the only creatures in the natural world who want to resist this urge. It doesnt mean you are being lazy, it means that your body is following the natural order of things.
It's ok to take things more slowly.
Autumn is a time to turn inward. To take stock of everything we have nurtured and cultivated since spring. A time to reflect on where we are and where we would like to go. A time to set or revisit intentions set earlier in the year.
It is a perfect time to observe the impermanence of the universe, the ever-changing nature. Often we get swept up in the winds of change this time of year. New routines are established after the break of summer, and the festive season is nearing. As beautiful as this time of year is, it can also be hectic.Here are some some suggestions on how to maintain a sense of balance so that you can fully enjoy all that the season has to offer.
A brief explanation of doshas if this is a new concept to you: In Ayurveda, or the Science of Life, there are 3 qualities or energies that make up the universe and all within it. They are Pitta, Kapha, Vata.
Pitta is fire and water. It is hot, yet fluid. It fuels agni, our digestive fire. And in Ayurveda good digestion results in good health.
Kapha is earth and water. It is heavy, stable, soft, smooth, and cooling.
Vata is wind and ether. It is the dosha of all movement, from the orbit of the planets, to breathing to blood circulation to waste elimination, nerve impulses, all the way down to the atomic level. All that moves is governed by vata.
Autumn is vata time. think about a quintessential autumnal day: its windy and blustry, the air is drier that the more humid months of summer due to more northerly winds.
[Oh, yes we humans are also comprised of doshas, most people with have a dominant one, but that is a post for another time! If you are interested in finding out your own personal dosha, you can take a quick onlie quiz like this one or better yet, locate an Ayurvedic consultant near you.]
How to stay balanced
So what happens when there is too much Vata in our bodies? It might show up as
-constipation, bloating, dry skin, insomnia, joint pain, stress, anxiety
To balance vata, we need grounding, warmth, lubrication/hydration.
For grounding, keep to your daily routines and rituals, no matter how small. Get out into nature, enjoy activities that keep you connected to the natural world. And protect the body when outside - keep the head covered and the low back protected from the elements. and slow down. Dont try to doo too much ant one time. Eat mindfully and stay present. Stay in the moment.
For warmth, eat warm nourishing foods. Think about all the foods in season at this time - leafy greens, vitami- rich squashes and fruits. Think about what we love to eat this time of year- soups, stews, warming roasts. We instinctivley know what the body needs - go with it!
Avoid cold salads and drinks. Our digestive fires are working hard to keep us warm, we dont need to tamper the flame. If the digestive fires are not burning at an optimal level, constipation sets in. We can't move waste out of the body, and therefore it builds up and toxins can be released back into the system and thats never good. Do drink that warm cuppa tea! Have the stew! And it is recommended to drink warm to hot water. It may sound unappealing at first, but once you get in the habit you'll never go back! Trust me, I've been drinking hot water with lemon for a year and I have noticed a huge difference. And I love the taste.
For lubrication/hydraion, its nice to begin the practice of abhyanga, or massage with warming oils. This can be done as a self practice or you can locate an Ayurvedic massage therapist near you. For the self-massage, get some sesame oil (NON TOASTED! You dont want to smell like a stir fry!) warm it up gently, and start applying to the body, starting with the legs, using long strokes on the limbs, a circular motion when you get to the joints. This can be done once a week at least. It'll save you from buying those chemical-laden and expensive lotions!
And as for a yoga practice, we can still practice a strong vinyasa flow or Ashtanga, but taking the movements more slowly and smoothly. And balance it out with a yin or restorative session.
Balancing postures are a nice thing to bring into your practice; its grounding yet uplifting.
Heart openers such as Ustransana, or Camel pose, is a nice way to keep the heart lifted and open when the darkness settles in around us. Also postures that work on the hips are nice to relieve tension in the low back, since that is where vata settles in the body.
Thank you for reading! I do hope you found some of this information useful. Here's hoping everyone a happy and healthy Autumn! Now go enjoy it!