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Guide to the Autumn Season: Ayurvedic Health and Diet Tips
It’s Autumn and in Western Washington we have an unusually beautiful burst of color from the trees. Our hot dry summer has caused the trees to go in to an early flush of color and it is one of the most beautiful things i have ever seen. As I look our my window on to our farm, I can see orange, brown, yellow and red leaves drifting across the landscape. It is the type of scene that must have inspired Vivaldi when he wrote The Four Seasons.
Autumn is the time of vata. The Ayurvedic constitution that is best represented by air or wind. I can not only see it’s evidence in the drifting leaves but I can feel it in my body as this transitional state eases toward winter. As the wind gathers it’s strength in October and we brace ourselves for winter, we might pause to remember that the presence of wind is in essence an abundance of prana (breathe, essence of life). It is a time to pause, breathe, be present and move towards simplicity. We can see evidence of the vata dosha qualities in the dry, windy, unpredictable and cool nature of this season. Because like increases like (fall season and vata dosha being similar), it is important to balance excess vata this time of year.
Side note: In Traditional Chinese Medicine this is also the time for “wind invasions”, simplified as a time of possible pernicious invasion of illness.
VATA SEASON ROUTINES
Autumn is cool, dry and light so it is a good idea to balance your vata with warm, oily, nourishing goodness, inside and out. Using good facial moisturizers like Daily Shield Moisturizer and Skin Repair Serum as well as nourishing your skin with our Rose Shatavari Gotu Kola Face Mask is very beneficial and highly recommended. Another beneficial practice is to massage your body with oil. Oil massages are not only deeply moisturizing but they can also help to draw toxins out of the body. Sesame oil (not toasted) is one well tolerated and beneficial by most people. Massage it in before showering and washing it off with a mild soap.
Including healthy fats like ghee and coconut oil as well as proteins in your diet this time of year can be vata balancing. Adding warming spices like ginger, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper to your meals can add a bit of warmth. Baking a pumpkin with these spices sprinkled on top of the meaty side and topping it with a bit of ghee is a great example of a vata balancing meal.
One of the best things we can do to balance ourselves during fall (vata season) is to maintain a regular schedule. Setting consistent times so that you sleep, wake, eat, meditate, exercise, work and play at the same times is super helpful. The vata dosha by nature can be a bit scattered, like leaves in the wind. When your daily routine is established, you calm your nervous system and ground your energy. You might find that it is helpful in many areas of your life.
Ashwaganda is a popular fall herb as it helps to support the nervous system, energy, digestion and strength. You can use the herbs mentioned above to make in to teas or you can just purchase a chai tea that already has them combined and ready for use. Pair the chai tea with some Chyavanprash and ghee on toast for a light breakfast. Triphala, helpful throughout the year as it contains amalaki, bibitaki and haritaki which together are cherished for not only containing five of the six tastes but also because they help eliminate excess vata.
Triphala is commonly taken as a daily supplement in a cup of water so that the taste, however unpleasant, is experienced and stimulates vata balancing. You can take it in capsules for a lesser effect.
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