In Autumn, Vata, the air element, is predominant. Leaves dry and fall off trees, a cool wind blows them around and the temperature drops. Vata regulates the nervous system, moisture in the body, how relaxed we are, and how well we digest food. When Vata is out of balance, we feel anxious and ungrounded, tend to have dry skin, “break wind” and become constipated.
To stay balanced and flow with seasonal changes, we can’t live like it’s summer all year long, eating salad and drinking iced tea. We must balance the elements within us according to what’s predominant outside of us.
Photo by Shar Veda
In Autumn then, to balance Vata’s cold, dry, rough, erratic qualities participate in, drink and eat things that are warm, moist, grounding, stable, and nourishing.
Here are a few of my favorite health practices for balancing Vata:
Self massage with warm sesame oil. I used to do this daily but then life got very busy. So now, my goal is three times a week. To simplify this Ayurvedic ritual which really will have you feeling golden, I fill the sink with hot water and allow a jar of sesame oil to warm in it before slowly and intentionally massaging it into my skin all over my body, allowing to sit a few minutes, then rinsing off in the shower.
Take warm baths with essential oils like rose, geranium, vanilla and ginger.
Drink herbal teas, such as licorice and ginger.
Prepare warm, cooked, simple meals. For breakfast, ditch the cold cereals and opt for oatmeal with raisins and nuts. For dinner, try nourishing soups with bone or chicken broth and vegetables.
Moderate sun bathing. In early fall, whenever the temperature gets above 65, I bring my yoga mat outside and do an hour of Pilates or yoga in the sun to soak up the vitamin D while I can.
Drink nut milk-based hot chocolate with ashwagandha, ginger, cardamom, cassia, and a pinch of pink salt (you can buy the blend at MoonDeli).
Exercise. I like swimming in a warm saltwater pool, light weight lifting, walking, yin or gentle yoga, as well as Pilates classes.
Use a humidifier with a warm mist.
Go to bed early. In fall, I go to bed by ten and wake up before sunrise, around 5:30am.
Shar Veda is an Ayurveda Health Counselor, Yoga Therapist, and writer living in Southern Oregon. She works with at risk teen girls in a group home and people of all ages in her private practice. She has studied with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, and herbalism. However, it was her adopted Grandma Doe (English American and Blackfoot Native), her first teacher who instilled within her a profound appreciation for the healing arts, psychic intuition, and world family.