Welcome to Fall! I love the fact that the air in North Carolina has turned crisp and cool, and we’re no longer living in 100% humidity. But that influx of wind also signifies the return of Vata season, which is typified by dryness, fast movement, and lightness. A major change from the heavy and hot summer air.
In Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medical system, it’s recommended that we alter our daily practices and routines to compliment the season at hand. The idea is that if we do not act to balance out the movement and lightness that is in our environment during Vata season, we risk having an overactive Vata in our bodies and minds. Noticed how everyone’s joints are creaking and cracking, or perhaps you’re rushing from place to place or feeling anxious? That’s overactive Vata.
In efforts to ease this seasonal transition, I’ve listed some great recipes and practices to take care of mind, body, and soul during the Vata season.
Treat your skin right.
Excess wind means our skin loses moisture and gets dry. The Ayurvedic recommendation is a daily self-massage with sesame oil called Abhyanga. This massage is meant to be a 10-minute ritual performed daily before your shower (instructions here). You start with your scalp and moisturize your body, head to toe. Most of us don’t have time for this massage on a daily basis, but incorporating it into your weekend routine doesn’t sound too awful, right? Yes, the first time I tried this I felt incredibly self-conscious….but it’s actually an amazing act of self-care, and your skin will feel soft and wonderful afterwards.
If you cannot do the daily massage, even a quick rub down before your shower can be beneficial. Alternatively, I like to use a small amount of coconut oil to moisturize my arms and legs after I get out of the shower.
When in doubt: cook it.
I know, I know, you’re trying to get the most out of summer fruits and vegetables before they disappear, but the raw salads and vegetables are exactly the opposite of what you need in Vata season! Raw foods work great during the summer (Pitta season) when your body is overheated and your metabolism is going strong, but as we transition to Vata season, we need to be a little gentler on our digestive system. That’s when cooking our food can be a great thing: cooking breaks down the foods, making them easier to digest, particularly if you have a lot of different ingredients.
It’s also important to think about the tastes and flavors of your food in Vata season. There’s a reason you develop a sweet tooth in the fall: that is overactive Vata craving some grounding! So look to warm, nourishing, sweet foods (think pumpkins, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, and soups) to provide some balance this Fall. On the other hand, limit the sour, astringent, dry foods you’re consuming (like citrus, raw salads, and dried fruits).
Some great dishes for Vata Season:
- Baked oatmeal with Pear from Green Kitchen Stories
- Veggie and Egg Tower of Power from My New Roots
- Warm chai latte
- Kitchari with Cilantro Coconut Chutney from Vidya
- Sweet Potatoes and Lentils from Happy Healthy Human
Get your exercise, but don’t over exert.
Vata is all about wind and movement! So too much exercise or overexertion can aggravate Vata. Definitely exercise is always an important aspect of your daily routine, but incorporating more grounding exercises into your routine can be a great practice at this time of year. Think about increasing your strength training and stretching, and make sure you’re dressed appropriately for outdoor exercise!
Yoga poses that work on stretching, grounding, and balance can be great Vata-stabilizers. Elephant Journal has a great yoga sequence for getting your Vata into balance.
Embrace your routines.
I sound like a broken record – but when you think Vata – think air, movement, volatility. Thus, Vata benefits from stability, grounding, and routine. Make it a priority to get on a consistent sleeping and eating schedule to help your body get the rest and care that it needs during this light and airy time.
On a similar vein, the Fall is a great time to take things a little slower. Schedule time to relax at home, so you can ground and regroup before heading back out into the world.
I love learning about Ayurvedic recommendations because on the one hand, their suggestions are so obvious, and yet, we often don’t make the time to practice them. As you make your way through the fall, keep the ideas of grounding and stability in the back of your mind, and see if you make you ease through the changing seasons a bit easier this year.
What practices do you crave during the Fall?