Cold Windy Weather, Anxiety, and Vata SeasonOctober 6, 2015
Cold windy weather, anxiety, and Vata Season
Here we are again, at the juncture of the seasons. Where I live in the Northeastern US, it seemed as though the high heat and humidity would never leave. And then all of a sudden, it was hat and scarf weather. Windy, cold and wet.
Yesterday I bundled up and went outside only to find it was warm again. Had to march back upstairs and peel away the layers.
But soon the cold will cause the leaves to change color, dry up and blow off the trees with a little help from the wind.
Ayurveda is very cautionary about the change of seasons. Our bodies need extra-special TLC as the climate shifts and different elements take charge.
“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
In Vata Season, the elements of air and ether predominate. This is shifting from Pitta Season, where fire and water were abundant.
Note: If you’re still experiencing any heat-related symptoms in the body (rashes, acidity, etc.) you might want to read this article I wrote recently.
It’s always important to cleanse the body of excesses from the previous season and Mother Nature has just the right foods to help.
The air element in Vata seems easier to comprehend than ether (or space). We recognize the wind blowing and also that the air element inside the body is what moves everything.
But what role does ether play in the body? Here’s a great article by Dr. Marc Halpern from the California College of Ayurveda which explains how this mysterious element behaves in the body.
Vata dosha is dry, mobile, cold, light, rough, clear and subtle.
Whether or not Vata is predominant in your constitution (take this quiz below to determine yours), all of these Vata characteristics can bring about an imbalance.
Discover Your Ayurvedic Constitution
Because Vata by nature is movement, it rules the other two doshas, Pitta and Kapha. Nothing happens without Vata. There would be no breath, no blood coursing through our veins, no elimination, no thought processes.
Vata is the queen (or king) of the doshas.
And it can wreak havoc during fall and early winter. This I know for sure. The more awareness I place on this changeable dosha, the more I am able to keep my anxiety and fear at bay.
Vata dosha, more than anything else, needs to be deeply nurtured and nourished.
In addition to Vata Season, there are also Vata times of the day – 2:00-6:00 am and 2:00-6:00 pm. These are hours when you might find increased Vata. Bear this in mind during your day.
Here are a few signs that your Vata dosha might be increased and needs balancing:
- Feelings of heightened anxiety, nervousness, and fear
- Bothered by cold and wind
- Sleep is interrupted and light
- Excess worrying
- Excess stimulation is bothersome – i.e. crowds and loud noises
- Intestinal gas, constipation – the colon is the seat of Vata dosha
- Dryness – skin, hair, stools, eyes, etc.
- Feeling disorganized and overwhelmed
- Can’t sit still
- Fatigue following bursts of energy. Crash and burn (this is typical of Vata energy)
Like increases like in Ayurveda, so think opposite to bring your Vata back into balance.
- Dress warmly and keep a scarf around your neck, especially when windy. The back of the neck is very vulnerable to wind.
- Eat more warm, gently cooked seasonal foods. Root vegetables are especially grounding for Vatas.
- Avoid cold drinks. Opt instead for warm beverages like spiced herbal teas, warm spiced milk, or warm lemon water with honey.
- Eat enough healthy fats and oils (especially ghee)
- Avoid over-exercising, which can aggravate already high-energy Vata. Gentle yoga, tai chi and qigong are excellent choices.
- Take quiet walks in Nature – it’s very grounding for airy Vatas.
- Meditation and pranayama (breathing practice) can help soothe Vata anxiety and fear.
- Daily self-massage with warm grounding oils like sesame or almond oil is extremely calming to the nervous system. Or, try an herbalized Vata oil.
- 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.
- Keep a regular routine with regards to sleeping, eating, working, etc. is imperative for Vatas, who love variety and can easily lose focus. An ideal bedtime is between 9:30–10:00pm.
- Nurture yourself as much as possible on a daily basis!
- Follow the food guidelines for your constitution and you’ll be on the right track.
When balanced, Vata-type people are creative, optimistic, joyful, forgiving, flexible, and full of enthusiasm. They thrive on change and love to discover and experience new things.
While fall has always ushered in feelings of high anxiety for me, so too has it been a time of super-charged creativity.
Each year I learn a little bit more about keeping the energy balanced, deeply nurturing myself and allowing myself to receive help from others. Especially those gifted with organizational skills. 🙂
Vata Season is also a special time for going within and connecting to our Source. Vata people generally have a very spiritual nature.
So, take the time to get quiet, meditate, be in Nature, and you might find yourself receiving amazing messages to guide you in your life.
May the winds of Vata be gentle this season for us all.
An Ayurvedic Guide to Anxiety Management