Well, Fall has suddenly moved in, and Vata season is in full force—colds, sore throats, and the flu begin to lurk in the air around us. So fun right? As we transition seasons, we shift from a Pitta (fire)-dominated summer to a Vata (air)-dominated autumn. In the fall, the air element is prominent. While our bodies have accumulated plenty of heat in our tissues through the summer months, fall forces the leaves to change color and the wind to brush our face. As a result, Vata takes the stage, which is often marked by change, instability, and anxiety---often throwing us off balance and out of our element.
When the stored heat of Pitta is cooled by Vata, it makes sense how this effect can trigger mental and physical burnout, stressing our adrenals and nervous system and restricting some of the body’s natural detoxification processes, resulting in body pains, coughs, colds, allergies, chest congestion, fatigue, or even depression. Think: adding a blast of air to fire—it would burn even stronger, right?
As Vata dosha increases, the dry, rough, cold, and windy qualities of fall can also take shape in our bodies. As the air element increases in our external environment, we might notice that our skin becomes dry, our energy drops, our thoughts feel muddled, our joints feel stiff, and our digestion suddenly sluggish. In other words, we feel in total disarray. Ugh. Why?!
As temperatures drop, so can motivation. The cold weather makes it harder to get up in the morning and get moving. Meanwhile, tis the season that our days feel rushed again. So what’s a Vata to do when life speeds up but the body slows down?
EAT WARMER FOODS
Increased air and wind can have a drying effect on the body and environment, drying out the digestive system. This can leave us feeling bloated or heavy after eating due to the reduced heat and increased dryness. But there’s a catch! Less blood in the skin means better circulation in the core, allowing the stomach to gain access to more blood. Thus, we experience this as a craving for starchy and heavy foods.
When the temperature starts to drop, the body scrambles to protect itself from heat loss. In Ayurveda, nourishing foods are called ojas. Warm, oily, heavy foods build ojas and provide the nourishment our body needs to build a layer of protective, insulating fat to prepare for winter, while also calming anxieties. Flavors of sweetness is nourishing and grounding to help build strength, while the taste of salt keeps us hydrated and moisturized.
To prevent the buildup of toxins and build resilience for the fall, increase your fluid intake in the form of water, soups, and stews. Eat foods that contain a bit more butter or foods that are sweet and salty to increase fluid levels in the body.
Add generous amounts of good quality oils like ghee to your dishes
Vegetables: Avoid cold/raw veggies and cold salads—these are foods that can dampen Agni, our digestive fire. Include warming veggies like baked squash, sweet potatoes, and lightly cooked leafy greens.
Soups: Soups are an ideal choice during this time of year. Easy to digest and oh so nourishing.
Spices: Keep your insides warm with spices like cumin, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, coriander, oregano, thyme, sage, fenugreek, and fennel, cardamom, clove, and cinnamon.
DRINK TEA WITH CINNAMON & ASHWAGANDHA
Another way to encourage the body to stay active and healthy during the fall is to drink teas that cleanse the organs, keep the body lubricated, and flush out toxins to keep the digestive fire active. In Ayurvedic terms, immunity is synced with digestion. When digestion and appetite are strong, then immunity is strengthened. And whatever weakens digestion, weakens immunity.
Keeping the nervous system stable throughout the fall is one of the most vital tasks for maintaining strong immunity and staying healthy—a central herb for Vata-type anxiety.
Use warm and sweet spices like cinnamon to promote the calming of inner air.
Cinnamon has a stimulating effect on the circulation, warming our blood and body into a state of ease with its sweet taste.
Ashwagandha, an adaptogen, will help you adapt to the extra stress as the seasons change
GET YOUR CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING
The fall is a great time for inspiration and new ideas, as its pattern reminds us that it's time to turn in from outside and begin to feed our inner light. Ah, bring on the hygge 😊. As blood flow to mind increases, Vata provides us with movement of thought, impacting our imagination and creativity. Wind, sudden temperature shifts, and the vacation-less season can also prompt higher levels of stress this time year.
PRACTICE SELF-CARE AKA TREAT YO'SELF
While the summer season keeps us busy enjoying warm days and active living, the Fall arrives in a seemingly sudden fashion, and the windy days can leave us feeling restless and out of sync with not just our routine, but also our inner-self.
Fall is a great time to start spending time nurturing our spirit and reflecting on the beauty that surrounds us. This helps us to stay grounded by rebalancing our minds and bodies.
Take a quick power nap or meditate during breaks. Reduced blood flow can cause our muscles feeling fatigued. Taking frequent breaks throughout the day can help to level out our energy.
Practice Yin yoga
Eat meals on time and at the same time every day
Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. An Ayurvedic ideal would be going to bed by 10:30 p.m. and awakening by 6:00 a.m.
DRESS WARM AND COZY UP
Vata types especially also have a tendency to feel cold and have cold hands and feet.
Dress in layers to be prepared for the fluctuations of heat and cold between inside and outside temperatures
Cover your head and ears when outside
Drink warm liquids throughout the day
Throughout every season, Ayurveda reminds us to sync our bodies with the waves of nature instead of going against them. Autumn is an opportunity to slow down, restore the body and mind, and prepare our system for winter wellness. Learning to recognize when an element needs balancing is the secret to great overall well-being. Keep Vata balanced and stay centered throughout the fall by listening to the signs in your body and mind—dedicate time to adjust your diet, support digestion, and focus on routine.
To discuss more about this topic with me one-on-one, schedule a free chat with me at natashawellness.com/appointment.