Looking out my window on this 4th day of October you would not think you were in the Pacific Northwest. The high today is nearly 70. However the low is 39, with much of the same for the rest of the week. Don’t let the sunshine fool you. According to the Ayurveda seasonal clock we are in the midst of Vata Season. Although sunny it is getting cold at night and you’ll notice a subtle breeze scattering those fall leaves. Be warned the traditional cooler and rainier days of the PNW are just around the corner.
What is “Vata” anyway? Vata contains the element of air and ether. The qualities of these elements are cold, drying, light, rough, and mobile. This is the time that kids are heading back to school and the hustle and bustle in households gets ramped up. The word mobile comes to mind for sure. Often times we might feel rushed or anxious during the fall. You might get congested or notice dry skin, hair, or even dryness in the throat. You might be forgetful or have a hard time staying focused. These are all signs of Vata imbalance, which can happen to all of us not matter how healthy we are.
Here are a few nurturing and healing practices you can invite into your daily routine to help:
Observing the Ayurveda clock can be very helpful to get the body back in sync with nature. Here in the PNW it gets dark earlier and earlier. So do try and spend 15 minutes a day outside. Yes even if it’s raining. Be sure to stay warm and bundle up but do get out.
Turn off all electronics or put in another part of the house, yes even your cell phone by 9pm. Electronics use the elements of ether and air. The more you use them the more you may become out of balanced by them. Read a book, meditate, or simply go to bed.
Oil your feet with sesame oil and a little lavender (calming and soothing) and/or cedarwood (anchoring/grounding). Take a little time to nurture your self as this will create ojas, and a necessary vital essence that we need to keep our fires stocked.
Lights out by 10pm. I know this can be hard with so many things left to do on the to-do list. It will be there in the morning.
No raw foods. Cook all your meals. Yes, all. Put away the Vitamix and replace with a cast-iron pan. Why you ask? Because our digestive fire, agni, can become dull and sluggish during this time of the year. By cooking or lightly sautéing your food your are helping your digestive fire. This includes salad. Instead of cold spinach quickly cook it up with a bit of ghee or olive oil.
A few more tips for specific dosha types:
Vata – You have to work extra hard to mitigate the ether/air elements in the body and mind this time of year. As the wind chills and dries foliage on plants and trees causing a wilting effect, so can it dry out our physical body and mind. Causing dehydration and a brittleness of the body and mind.
Stay warm – it is wool sock weather for sure
Eat warm nourishing foods, hearty soups, pastas
Drink room temperature water, no ice, and hot teas made of cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, or cardamom.
Avoid caffeine. Yes, I really said avoid caffeine. It will exacerbate any vata symptoms.
Pitta – Thankful for the cooler weather but still have to watch as to not keep the stored up heat from summer in the body. Taking our cue from the trees as they push out the heat of summer through the vibrant changing colors of their leaves. We too need to push out excess heat as to not cause inflammation in our body.
Short seasonal cleanse can be very helpful to push out toxins.
Avoid cold drinks. Stick to room temperature liquids.
Cook all your meals. Use spices such as turmeric, basil, and fennel.
Spend time in nature. It provides a satvik or calming quality to the mind.
Oil the body daily before showering with sunflower oil.
Practice grounding asanas
Kapha – The light, mobile, drying, qualities of this season can be beneficial for kaphas but take care not to get too damp during this time of year. We are known for our rain here in the PNW so be mindful not to let that over power you. Kaphas have stamina and strength and will need that stamina to get through the vata season.
Fall cleanse is very helpful for this dosha. Get the toxins out before winter.
Eat warm, cooked meals with heating spices such as clove, cumin, mustard seed, and turmeric.
Drink hot teas with cinnamon, clove, and turmeric.
Keep moving, take vigorous walks, practice warming asanas such as sun salutations until you break a sweat
Oil daily before showering with heating oils such as sesame.
Limit dairy intake. Really. As little as possible.