21 Ayurvedic Practices for Transitioning into Autumn

Incorporate these simple dietary and lifestyle choices into your cool-weather routine for a balanced, healthful season.

| September/October 2018

  • Balance autumn’s cold and dry vata nature with the grounding addition of mushy soups.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/annapustynnikova
  • Ayurveda focuses on an individual approach to achieving your optimal health.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/Coka
  • Oil, assuming you digest it well, is Ayurveda’s main treatment for dry vata energy, so consume plenty of healthy oil and ghee during autumn.
    Adobe Stock/MilaBond
  • In moderation, salty tastes, such as seaweed, will help boost your digestion.
    Photo by Getty Images/CaoChunhai
  • Eat mild, warming spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/tibor13
  • You can keep vata balanced by counteracting its nature with warm, moist, and heavy (nourishing) foods coupled with grounding activities.
    Photo by Getty Images/boggy22;
  • Constipation tends to worsen in autumn, so make sure you eat high-fiber foods and items such as soaked raisins to keep things moist and moving.
    Photo by Getty Images/ansonsaw

Ayurveda is the ancient holistic healing system of India, and the name translates from Sanskrit as “the science of life.” Ayurveda includes a vast collection of interrelated practices — from diet, to hygiene, to exercise — that encompass every aspect of a person’s health and lifestyle. Yoga, which is Ayurveda’s sister science, is the mental and spiritual development side of the same coin.

Ayurveda has very few absolute lifestyle rules, instead focusing on an individual approach to achieving optimal health. I have been teaching Ayurveda for more than 45 years, and during those years I have seen Ayurvedic remedies transform peoples’ lives time and again.

Seeking Balance with Energetics

Ancient Ayurvedic practitioners coordinated a classification system based on a number of different complementary qualities, including hot/cold, moist/dry, and heavy/light. If an herb or ingredient makes you feel hot, then it’s likely designated a “hot” food. Examples include ginger (hot), melon (moist), and cooked grains (heavy). Expanded to include all possible metabolic actions, these concepts form the basis of an extensive system of “energetics.”

To help people understand and use energetics — and to simplify assessment and treatment — the fathers of Ayurveda condensed these sensory experiences into three primal metabolic forces called “doshas.” These master forces of well-being are responsible for promoting and sustaining balance in the daily and lifelong health of the individual.

The doshas are characterized by the energies intrinsic to each master force. For example, the “vata” dosha causes cold, dry, and light energies; the “pitta” dosha causes hot, wet, and light; and the “kapha” dosha causes cold, wet, and heavy. Ayurveda defines disease as an imbalance of the doshas, and your every action affects their balance.

Our concern during autumn is with keeping the vata dosha balanced. As the weather cools, vata becomes more aggravated, and attention should be turned toward keeping it from becoming excessive (too cold, too dry, too light), which could make you feel fatigued and spacey, with dry skin. You can keep vata balanced by counteracting its nature with warm, moist, and heavy (nourishing) foods coupled with grounding activities.

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