fall vata season self-care
Fall Ayurvedic Self-Care
by Tanya Anderson, Certified Ayurvedic Counselor
Āyurveda calls the seven days at the end and commencement of a season as Ritu Sandhi, or ‘the place where seasons meet’ – and offers specific healing practices and rituals to help prepare for the change, already in the air.
“The seven days at the end and commencement of a season is known as ‘Ritu Sandhi’ (junction between seasons). During this period, the regimen of the preceding season should be discounted gradually, and that of the succeeding season should be gradually adopted.” A.H. sutra 58-59. In autumn, this shift happens one week before the Fall Equinox and another seven days after. This is a very brief, but critical time to ensure our health in the next season.
Being attuned to these changes allows for a more natural transition that allows your body to slowly lose accumulated elements from the previous season and gently acclimate. Specifically, Vata (wind/ether) element starts to accumulate and build up during summer, so now as the seasonal shift is here, we may be really feeling the changes within our body.
Like the season, our bodies are becoming more cold, dry, mobile, and rough - leading to dry skin and hair, dry digestion and bloating, anxiety, disturbed sleep, lack of focus.
One of the ancient Ayurvedic texts, Ashtanga Hridayam, offers some advice on how to make changes for our best health as the seasons change. We need to understand why we do this.
At a fundamental level, it has to do with the change of the elements and qualities governing the season that we are in.
Pitta Season (Summer)
Elements: Fire and Water
Qualities: Slightly oily, penetrating, hot, light, malodorous, spreading and liquid
Responsible for all chemical and metabolic functions in the body. Controls our digestion and perception. The transformative dosha.
Vata Season (Autumn- Mid Winter)
Elements: Air and Ether(space)
Qualities: Dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile
Responsible for sensory and mental balance, motor coordination, nervous system function. Vata through its mobile quality, coordinates the whole body and the other doshas.
The main Ayurvedic principle to balance doshas, is that ‘like attracts like and opposites balance”. By knowing the qualities, we can make the changes necessary. Pitta season required us to take things a bit slower than the vigor and speed that Kapha required to be in balance. Due to the mobile quality of Vata, we need to slow down even more, or risk Vata aggravation.
Our foods, routines and daily practices will shift to allow the heat of Pitta to dissipate, and bring in the heavy, grounding qualities to pacify the mobile Vata.
- Focus on warm, moist cooked foods rather than dry, raw, cold foods (e.g., popcorn, salads, pretzels). Stews over salads!
- Eat root vegetables and squashes. Avoid nightshades (e.g., eggplant, tomato, potato) and limit cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower)
- Add more ghee, or oil to foods to oleate our insides and counteract the gas, bloating and constipation that aggravated Vata can bring to our digestion.
- Eat more mindfully. Taking time with our meals and chewing slowly. This helps us to avoid allowing excess air to be consumed. We can then pay closer attention to our bodies cue of feeling full.
- Add more carminative spices to our foods, to enkindle agni (digestive fire/metabolism), and mitigate gas. Adding more cumin, ajwain, ginger, cinnamon and fennel.
Daily Practices and Routines:
- Rising before the sun to consume warm lemon water. This helps to rehydrate the body after being in an acidic state of rest overnight. Aids in stimulating our digestion for the day.
- Self Abhyanga. Skin can get very dry during Vata season. Taking care of our main organ of elimation, our skin, can benefit our immunity and our overall health. It also strengthens and nourishes the main protective layer of our body. Watch our video on Abhyanga.
- Slowing down our yoga and exercise routine. Vata is very mobile, so strenuous exercise will further aggravate. Tai chi, yin yoga, qi gong and mindful nature walks are good during this time.
- Neti pot and nasya. All of our mucous membranes become dry as well. Taking care to cleanse pathogens and debris from our nasal passages can assist in keeping us healthy. Once nasal passages are dry, warm nasya application can nourish and moisturize. Watch our Neti/Nasya video. Try our Nourishing Nasya Oil.
- Pranayama. Working with the subdosha of Vata, that resides in our mind – prana vayu. A daily breath practice can help us to ground the overactive mental chatter, and provide stillness during our busy days. Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a great option.
- Daily chyavanprash. This herbal paste is suspended in ghee, which a great anupana, or vehicle to deliver these herbs to our tissues and help boost our immunity during the winter cold and flu season.
- Netra Tarpana. Ghee eye baths can lubricate our dry eyes. This practice is included in our 5 Senses Therapy service. The perfect treatment for Vata season.
- Shirodhara or oiling the scalp. Sleep can become disturbed during Vata season. Adding the heavy quality of nourishing oils, with herbs that have an affinity for the head can help to pacify these symptoms. This will also help with any symptoms of dry, itchy scalp. Learn more about shirodhara. Try our Scalp Oil.
In general, be gentle on yourself, appreciating your body's need to go inward and nourish. Consider a gentle cleanse to restore your body's natural balance and microbiome for optimal health of body and mind. Read more about Kosa's Community Cleanse.
Starting your Ayurvedic Self-Care Practices
Virtual Event Recording
To learn more about Fall self-care, watch our recorded community event with Tanya Anderson, Kosa Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Carol Nace, Certified Panchakarma Technician, and Renowned Ayurvedic Chef, Divya Alter.
Find the recording here.
bilva sharbat drink
This cooling, herbal, syrup-based beverage is a popular Indian refreshment with umami flavors.