Ayurvedic Tools for Maintaining Balance Through Autumn

We are halfway through Autumn and the days are getting cooler while the leaves are starting to fall from the trees. You many be noticing that things are changing within your own inner environment as well as the energetic nature of this season is so different from that of summer. According to the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda the autumn season is characterized by Vata dosha, which means, “that which moves things”. Vata is made up of the elements of Air and Ether (Space) and its qualities are movement, light (in contrast to heavy), dryness, roughness, and subtlety. You can feel this when you walk outside these days, the wind is dry, the leaves falling from the trees are light and the sound of them crunching on the ground beneath your feet is rough, there is an air of change and transition, and the quiet moments are rich with subtlety and insight. It is a wonderful season, and my favorite, but understanding it’s nature can ensure that we stay balanced and healthy during the transition from summer to fall.
The main areas in the physical body governed by Vata are the colon, the bones, the joints, the thighs/hips, the ears, the skin, the brain, and the nerve tissues. Because Vata is related to movement it governs breathing patterns, talking, muscular movement, nerve impulses, circulation, and elimination. In the mind Vata governs creativity, communication, and quickness of thought. During this season of the year or the Vata season of our lives which is late middle age to our elderly years Vata can be aggravated easily which means we may feel imbalanced in any of these areas resulting in conditions such as insomnia, arthritis, stiff muscles and cracking joints, dry skin, constipation, gas or bloating, lower back pain, and low energy. When Vata is in balance we will feel creative, artistic, articulate, perceptive, adaptable, and flexible. The following tips can help you to reduce Vata if it is aggravated and to create balance during this season.
Tools for Balancing Vata in Autumn

  • Incorporate more warm and nourishing food and drink in your diet
  • When eating raw salads be generous with high quality dressings made with good fats or consider making marinated salads
  • Choose seasonal vegetables and fruits such as winter squash, fresh apples, local grapes, and dandelion greens
  • Avoid or reduce foods that are drying or overly stimulating such as popcorn and black coffee
  • Include warm oil massage (Abhayanga) in your daily self care routine or schedule in some massages with your favorite bodyworker
  • Lubricate your nasal passages with sesame oil to prevent colds due to dryness. Do a warm sesame oil treatment for your ears once a week too! It feels amazing.
  • Wear a scarf and hat to protect your ears and throat from cold winds
  • Make time for stillness in your day whether it’s a few minutes of meditation morning and evening or simply eating your meals in silence
  • Go to bed early and get up early (pre-dawn) to get the most out of the rarefied nature of this subtle season
  • Clean your physical space by getting rid of clutter in the home and reorganizing, think greater simplicity
  • Review your intentions and goals, prioritize what’s important to you so you can be specific in the way you spend your energy
  • Cuddle your loved ones and make time for intimate get togethers with dear friends
  • Do regular nourishing physical practices such as yoga, walking, swimming or Tai Chi
  • Feed your mind and soul with inspiring literature or the keeping of good company
  • In general slow down, eat and speak mindfully, and avoid overexerting yourself