Ayurveda for Autumn
Ayurveda for Autumn; transitioning with grace and ease. No one does it better than Mother Nature. Her slow, silent approach – preparing for the inevitable new cycle. Always accepting, open and ready.
We can learn a lot from nature. As human’s we seem to struggle with transitions. Often fearing change; experiencing resistance, whether it be internally or externally. We can possess the knowledge but lack wisdom. We can find ourselves in fight, flight or freeze situations; resisting, running away or unable to even respond to what is happening within us and around us. Yet each of us, and everything around us is constantly changing from one moment to another. And it is these seemingly small changes, which silently shift through shadows, that enable us to discover that we have already inherited the entire earth.
Through practising mindfulness, cultivating patience and creating awareness of how we move on the mat, we can then take those tools and apply it to the moves we make in our lives off the mat.
Use this transition from Summer into Autumn as your invitation. Bring balance into your life through your daily habits. Practise presence in your Asana; not only for the moments you spend in postures but for the journey it takes to get to them. For the brief moments in-between, that enables you to arrive. Get lost in the gaps and spaces, the pauses, the unfolding, the catch and release. Feel into the transitions and flow with them.
“And just like the phases of the moon, we must grow through the difference phases of life. Feeling into our fullness, feeling into our emptiness. Each phase as beautiful and meaningful as the last.” ~ Melissa Peralta ~
The Ayurvedic Approach
In Ayurvedic tradition, this time of the year is considered to be Vata Season. The days begin to shorten, the wind starts to pick up and there is a crisp coolness in the air. The word Vata translates to moving like the wind. It consists of the elements of air and ether. Our breath, our internal and external movements and digestion are all manifestations of the presence of Vata. When this element within us is in balance, our movements are graceful and controlled, our digestive health functions in a way that is smooth and regular and optimises the nutritional absorption of the food we eat.
There are steps can we take within our lifestyle and diet to counterbalance the dry, windy and cool qualities that Vata Season brings. Actively incorporating new habits for Autumn will help reduce any potential in-balances within the mind and body, caused by seasonal change.
The Art of Embracing Change
Prepare yourself for the season of slowing down, shedding and processing. This is a time for great transformation. Allow the cycles of nature to support you in your growth.
Starting with taking a look at the way you eat. You can begin to incorporate more grounding, warm, nutrient dense foods that deeply nourish you by providing an abundance of healthy fats and proteins. Spices can be used to stimulate the nervous system, improve blood flow and create heat and moisture in the body. Try to avoid eating foods which are cooling, bitter or raw. Lean towards anything warm, naturally sweet, soothing and comforting. Kitchari is a traditional dish from India made from brown rice, lentils or mung beans, veggies, and a mix of warming spices. It is known for its healing and grounding properties. It resets and gently cleanses the digestive system, making it great option for a simple detox with a recommended three day cleansing mono-fast. It is incredibly easy to prepare, the ingredients are cheap to buy and you can be creative with the vegetables you include. I like to keep it simple with just carrot, however, sometimes I’ll add spinach or kale to the pot too or get fancy and roast off some cauliflower to top it off with.
Move Consciously With The Season
Move your body with gentle exercises. You can begin to introduce postures in your yoga practise that invoke a sense of grounding, through slower more earthy and mindful movements. The ideal time to practise being between 6-10am or 6-10pm. Enjoy walks in nature, observing the changes in the environment as the trees begin to shed their leaves and our surroundings begin to take on a golden palate of oranges, reds and browns. Swimming can also be a nice way to move your body through this dry Vata season; with it having a strong emphasis on focussing the breath, whilst aiding in retaining moisture in the body. Spending time in a Steam Room can also be a good way of clearing your airways, improving your breathing and alleviating congestion. The warm wet atmosphere provided in a steam room has been shown in studies to boost circulation; aiding in lowering blood pressure and making for a healthier and happier heart. Plus these can be pretty relaxing places to be. Aim for around fifteen minutes, as spending too long in a steam room can have the opposite effect and start to dehydrate you. I once heard a story from a friend, who witnessed a man eat an orange in a steam room. My friend was initially pretty taken aback, but soon discovered that the aroma from the fruit made for a very pleasant experience, as the properties found in orange work as a natural mood booster.
Align With Essential Oils
Citrus essential oils are perfect for using during Autumn and Winter for this reason. Orange, grapefruit and lemon would all make good choices. They are uplifting and fresh, bring balance to the mind and body and can ease low mood, associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Additional essential oils that can support you through this dry, cold season are Vetiver, Geranium and Jasmine. You can unlock the powerful therapeutic properties found within these oils by using a massage oil that contains any of the aforementioned or by adding them to a warm bath or diffuser. Daily massage followed by a warm shower can make a glorious morning ritual. Sesame oil is particularly good for nourishing the skin and grounding your energy. However, you can use any base oil thats suitable for use on the skin. Both of our Yogi Oils are suitable for using during Vata season. Luz with its uplifting Jasmine, Grapefruit and Orange essential oils and Luna with its grounding and relaxing Vetiver, Lavender and Ylang-Ylang. Use for morning ritual or post yoga practise / Savasana. Spray into palms, rub together and inhale deeply before applying.
The Art of Breathing
Another Vatta pacifying practise which you could incorporate into your daily routine, is Pranayama. This alternate nostril breath-work helps to balance the nervous system; promoting a sense of grounding, clarity of thought and improved focus and awareness. If you wish to learn more to develop a home practise, I highly recommend checking your local bookstore for Light on Pranayama: The Definitive Guide to the Art of Breathing by B.K.S Iyengar.
I hope that you find this content useful and that you can flow through this seasonal change, not only with grace and ease but within in a healthy and happy mind and body.