“The food body is the most tangible form connecting us to Consciousness.” Maya Tiwari
Become aware of the changes that are occurring in nature: you can hear the gusts of wind blowing through the trees. You can feel the slight drop in temperature and the increased dryness of the air. You can see the changing colours of the leaves drying on the trees. You can taste the ripeness of the seasonal fruits and smell the richness of the earth.
Autumn is a time when the Air element (vayu) is predominant; there is more lightness, dryness and coolness; and ‘the winds of change’ can blow more erratically. These qualities in nature have a tendency to aggravate vata which is the dosha primarily associated with the nervous system.
Vata also regulates the levels of moisture in the body, how relaxed we feel and how well we digest food. So Autumn is a time to balance vata by following practices and lifestyle regimes that help reduce symptoms of wind, dryness and indecisive behaviour.
Vata can build up in the lungs, nervous system, brain, large intestine, hair, nails, bones, skin and hands. This can cause dry skin, constipation and increased anxiety, which may result in nervousness and insomnia.
Vata is increased by pungent, astringent and bitter flavours that are found in very hot spices, too much black tea and raw salads; by excessive busyness and rushing; by fear and insecurity; by going to bed after 11pm.
Suggested Autumn Routine
- Rise early with the sun when the world is still and calm.
- Flush your system with a mug of root ginger tea.
- Hold a little warm sesame oil in your mouth for a few minutes. This is very nourishing to the mouth, strengthens teeth and helps to stop bleeding and receding gums.
- Massage yourself with warm sesame oil. This helps to combat dryness, joint cracking and stiff muscles. Rinse off in a warm shower. Place a drop of oil in your nostrils and ears.
- Start your yoga practice with some alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana). Nadi shodhana helps to purify the channels of toxins, especially vata toxins, which accumulate from tension. Breathing helps us to relax, and more importantly, it helps to relax the constriction in the subtle channels.
- Practice asana that is grounding, opening to the hips, relaxing and slow using steady breathing. All inverted poses where the head is below the waist helps to move apana vayu down, all twists help to regulate samana vayu in the colon, slow sun salutation with breaths in each pose and lots of shavasana (corpse pose).
- Your autumnal diet can consist of warming foods that are sweet, mildly spicy, sour and salty as these flavours increase moisture and encourage feeling nourished and grounded.
- Breakfast can be a small bowl of porridge: oats, rice or quinoa that can be flavoured with ginger, cinnamon or cardamom and a little maple syrup.
- For lunch and supper have more nourishing foods such as steamed vegetables and a grain that is flavoured with turmeric, coriander and cumin, root vegetable soups or kicharee.
- Avoid too much raw salad, cold drinks, ice, beans, fermented foods and yeast as they cause gas and may unsettle your digestion.
- If you are easily affected by the changes in the autumn season and suffer from vata imbalanced symptoms such as insomnia, erratic digestion, constipation and anxiety then the most famous Ayurvedic herbal remedy is Ashwagandha. It is great for calming and strengthening, as well as boosting energy levels. You can take it morning and evening and it is a wonderful herb to enhance stability and strength in your yoga practice.
- At the end of your busy day make yourself a cup of organic milk gently boiled with a pinch of nutmeg or cardamom.
- Oil your feet and lower belly with warm sesame seed oil and settle in for a blissful night’s sleep!