Ayurveda tells us that autumn is a vata season. Its dry, windy, rough, cool, and unpredictable qualities can leave you feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually imbalanced if excess vata is not tamed.
To balance vata, look toward cultivating the following practices in your life. Doing so will help make the seasonal transition not only easier but more enjoyable as you continue to grow yourself in the dark and quiet months leading up to winter.
Now is the time to take a step back and be honest about what’s stressing you out. Whether it’s a bad habit you’ve developed or an excessive amount of responsibilities keeping you busy, you have to put your well-being first if you want to resolve it. This might involve taking more time for yourself, replacing a bad habit with a healthier one, making an effort to get enough sleep every night, or even making it more of a priority to indulge in therapeutic practices (such as yoga and meditation).
As the temperature continues to drop, your body will begin to crave more warmth. By warming up the body, you essentially help ward off many unwanted effects of excess vata—including bloating and constipation, dry or chapped skin, and difficulty tolerating cold and wind. Build heat with sun salutations in your practice, take warm baths, give yourself a soothing self-massage, enjoy spices in your meals, and eat cooked rather than raw foods. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to cuddle with your pet, spouse/partner, kids, or anyone else with a warm body!
Nourishment goes hand in hand with both stress relief and warmth. Take good care of your body by keeping your skin moisturized, your mind calm, and your body well fed. Favour foods that are higher in fat and protein, giving preference to sweet, sour, and salty tastes. You can also add a generous amount of oily foods to your diet as long as they’re of high-quality. Think olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil, and ghee.
When vata becomes imbalanced, you may find yourself suffering from mental and emotional states like nervousness, anxiety, fear, restless thinking, and scattered feelings. In addition to meditating on these feelings, be sure to keep close friends and family members near. Knowing that you are loved and connected to others during the colder seasons can help pacify negative thoughts and feelings when they have a tendency to get out of hand.
Last but not least, establishing a sense of groundedness to the the Earth and the present moment will help you stay balanced as you work on letting go of what no longer serves you while embracing what is. Try to get in a good routine with your daily habits (meals, exercise, bedtime) and engage in healthy practices that encourage you to turn inward. Here are a few one-minute grounding techniques you can use this October and beyond as you quietly work on discovering more about yourself and prepare to grow even further into the new you.