“The wind of change
Blows straight into the face of time
Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell
For peace of mind.”
~~ The Scorpions
Autumn is considered to be a transitional time of year, helping us move from the fiery aspects of the summer season to the cold and damp season of winter. I don’t know about you readers out there, but I have a really hard time sitting still during this time of year! It always feels like I have SO much to do, and so I start trying to do ALL of it…at the SAME TIME! And then I get distracted by every little thing because I’m trying to take on too much. Sound familiar?
Well, there’s a reason for it all. Autumn is the season of vata, according to ayurveda. Ayurveda is the science of life, and is considered to be the sister science of yoga (you can learn more about ayurveda here). Vata is associated with the elements of air and space (ether), and autumn is when these elements elevate in our external environment (i.e., wind, crackling leaves, dryness). As a result, we may feel these same elements elevate in our minds and our bodies as well.
Ayurveda’s mantra is: ‘Like increases like,’ while ‘opposites balance each other out.’ So with vata being in abundance in the climate, we are reflecting it as well by feeling an excess of air and ether in our bodies…and if your ayurvedic constitution is more vata, then you’ve really got a lot of this going on. My ayurvedic constitution happens to be predominantly vata; hence, why I typically feel so chaotic during this time of the year, and why winter hits me like a sledgehammer because of it.
(I found this picture on The Literary Yard, and I thought it was an awesome representation of how, if we don’t watch it, this season can make us feel like we’re “all over the place”, not knowing whether we’re coming or going.)
However, autumn happens to be my FAVORITE season of the year. I love the cooler temperatures and the wind in the air (the windier, the better!). I love the smells that come along with this time of year, like bonfires and hot apple cider. I love the crispness in the air, as it invigorates me after the hot and humid air of summer (I live in South Carolina, and it is CRAZY hot and humid here in the summer!).
As I’ve been working on incorporating more ayurvedic principles into my life over these past several months, I’ve learned that there are simple things I can do to make this season of transition feel a little less “scattered” and a little more balanced. Here are some things I’ll be doing, particularly during the month of October, to help with enjoying this season to the fullest and enter winter with a little more gusto:
- Maintain a routine and a schedule. Erratic schedules further aggravate vata in the body, so it’s important to try and get a solid schedule and routine in place for yourself. For example, I’ve got a nice exercise routine in place which incorporates yoga, strength training and walking. Having this schedule keeps me on track, and I don’t have to think about it…I know what I need to do and when, so this helps keep me focused. I also have a meditation routine, which is critical for helping me manage my stress….I actually REALLY notice when I miss my planned meditation…you probably don’t want to be around me on those days. :)
- Massage the body daily with oil, as it helps to combat the dryness associated with autumn. Organic sesame oil works really well for calming vata. But you can also get oils specially formulated for vata…Banyan Botanicals is my go-to site for ayurvedic products.
- Move in the right way. Vata is pacified by heat, so it’s important to move and exercise in ways that create some internal heat. Since “like increases like”, you’ll want to avoid movement that is jumpy, for example. Instead, incorporate more grounding and fluid movements to your exercise. Basically, if what you’re doing doesn’t make you feel more grounded, don’t do it! In yoga, you might want to avoid the jumps in your vinyasas, as well as tricky poses that tend to aggravate you (i.e., handstand). Instead, move your body more fluidly (for those of you who come to my class, think about the joint movements we’ve been doing in our warm-ups…these are great at helping those crackly joints loosen up) and hold poses longer to create that internal heat.
- Eat in a peaceful environment. This is a hard one for me. When I am at work, I always eat lunch at my desk, working while I eat. When I am at home, I’m dealing with crazy dogs running around, all while trying to persuade my daughter that what she’s got on her plate is actually tasty and healthy…my husband, bless his heart, tries to help keep things calm, but we just never seem to be able to do so. Therefore, my goal for October is to eat lunch away from desk at work. We have a nice common area where there are tables and chairs, and lots of natural light, so I plan on making use of that. Or better yet, I’d like to eat outside whenever I can. We’ve got several spots around our building where there are tables, and I think being outside would be very centering for me.
- Eat seasonal foods. Since our bodies can tend to dry out and become too cold during this season, it’s important to eat foods that are warming and moist (like cooked fruits, roasted root vegetables, and savory soups). I’m on a limited diet right now, due to health issues I am working on, so there are several recommended ayurvedic foods that I won’t be able to include. However, I will be able to make sure I incorporate lots of healthy fats (like ghee, coconut oil, olive oil and avocado), which are great at helping with my crackly joints. Warm beverages throughout the day (like herbal teas, water with lemon & fresh ginger) help with digestion and they improve hydration.
- Incorporate warming colors. Colors can be wonderful in helping to balance the body. Warmer, richer colors (like yellows, oranges and reds) are great at helping to balance the coolness in the air. Try wearing these colors, or putting pictures on your walls with these colors in them. I know people who change out their bedding, swap out their couch pillows, and change out their knick knacks with every season…now I know why!
- Incorporate more down time. OK. This is, by far, going to be the hardest one for me. However, I know I need to do it. I’ve got too much going on right now, and I feel spacey, scattered and unstable…which is promoting more anxiety within. I have slowly been letting go of things over the past few months. It was easy to get rid of things I don’t love. Yet I know I still have too much on my plate, so now comes the hard task of figuring out which of the remaining things…things that I LOVE…to let go of. I really need to focus on getting better, and more down time is what I need to do in order to get there.
In speaking with many of you, it seems like #7 is going to be the toughest one for more than just me. It seems like we all have too much going on in our lives. So for October, use this season of transition to calm the winds swirling around you. Do what you need to do in order to bring balance and focus to your life. If you’re able to make it to one of my classes, we’ll be incorporating things into each class that should help with tampering down those winds and bringing more stability into your life. If you can’t join me, I’d love to hear from you as to how you transition into fall.