“When the seasons change, we experience a sympathetic internal shift. All life-forms open themselves up to receive cosmic redirection from nature during these crucial seasonal transitions, so we are likely to be more vulnerable and unsettled.”
Maya Tiwari, The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing
Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons–sunny days, sweater weather and the breathtakingly beautiful changing leaves. But for as long as I can remember it has also been a time of agitation. I would experience uncertainty, anxiety and an overall feeling of being unsettled. This seasonal shift confused me for years, until I began to study Ayurveda. I’ve written about this transition before but I think it bears repeating. For me, awareness has been the key to getting through these months unscathed.
As summer eases into fall and the weather turns cooler, we leave behind Pitta Season and enter Vata Season, usually in late September. However, as long as hot weather remains, so does Pitta Season. This can be tricky, so just pay attention to the weather and how you are feeling, remembering that hot=Pitta and cold=Vata.
“The Ayurvedic texts say that a disease can take root in the body only during the junctions between the seasons, when all nature is in flux. Because of the upheaval dominating these junctions, the body’s natural immunity becomes virtually defenseless against impending disease.” -Maya Tiwari
This has certainly been the case for me, especially the summer-into-fall transition. The best example (and worst experience) was three years ago when I had whooping cough. I learned many lessons from those tenuous months, the most important being to deeply nurture my Vata self.
An important fact to bear in mind is that an excess of a dosha can build up over the months and it is important to address this before moving into the next Ayurvedic season. If your Pitta has been high all summer, you want to get the excess heat out of your body so that it doesn’t get trapped and lead to health issues. Here’s an excellent article that addresses this problem, along with easy dietary suggestions.
Even if Vata is not your primary dosha, you may find yourself feeling a little anxious as the temperature drops and the wind begins to blow. Remember, we are made up of the three doshas and their earthly elements. It is Vata dosha, which is comprised of air and ether (think movement), that is responsible for racing thoughts and a pounding heart that create anxiety. Vata is the dosha most likely to get out of balance, but luckily can can come back just as easily. In a word, it’s changeable.
So, what to do to ease this transition and stay healthy?
- Eat more warm and gently cooked foods. Seasonal root veggies are particularly grounding.
- Avoid cold drinks, opt instead for warm beverages like spiced herbal teas or lemon water with honey.
- Add some yoga, qigong or tai chi to your routine. Try to avoid more vigorous exercises like running as they can aggravate your already high energy.
- Keep the chilly winds and damp weather out by dressing warmly and wearing a scarf around your neck.
- Consider a regular daily meditation practice along with breathing exercises.
- Spend lots of quiet time in nature-it’s particularly grounding for Vatas.
- Keep to a regular routine. An early bedtime is vital, as is taking time each day to nurture the mind and body.
- Self-massage with warm sesame oil, or my favorite Vata body oil, once or twice a day will do wonders for your nerves.
- Try to stay away from loud, noisy environments and when you can’t avoid them, take a moment to breathe deeply and find your inner calm.
Finally, lest you think Vata is just about anxiety, think again! I fully embrace my Vata when it is in balance. Vatas are creative, optimistic, energetic and full of joy and enthusiasm. Just like everything else in life, it’s all about balance!