by Rippan Sandhu
Autumn is a period of transition. And while the change in weather as we leave the hotter months behind may seem subtle, your body still needs to be able to cope with these external changes to maintain its internal balance. It cannot be denied that seasonal changes have a huge impact on our bodies, and consequently, on our health and wellbeing.
This transitory period brings with itself cool and dry weather conditions – which also happen to be distinct characteristics of the Vata Dosha according to Ayurveda. Hence, Autumn, with an abundance of rough, cold wind and dry erratic weather is often considered to be a Vata-dominant season.
But you may be wondering how this impacts you. According to Ayurveda, understanding the unique characteristics of the season allows us to establish appropriate rituals to help the body remain in harmony with our natural environment. While it may sound intimidating, we can assure you it’s not! Here are a few simple daily rituals you can incorporate into your routine to help your body get ready to embrace Autumn.
Choose warming food and drinks
This may sound like a no-brainer but this is also often easy to overlook. The Vata-dominant Autumn season is essentially dry and the inflow of cold air can easily dehydrate our system. So Ayurveda suggests we turn towards food items that provide the body with warmth and nourishment. Moist, warm, oily, salty, and spicy food is best consumed during this transition phase to maintain the body’s balance and also prevent the occurrence of seasonal allergies.
Think stewed fruits like apples and pears with a touch of cinnamon, warm oats porridge, nourishing drinks like ginger and turmeric tea, and vegetable soups and broths. It is advisable to avoid dry, airy and raw food at this time of the year since they tend to aggravate the symptoms of Vata imbalance. Incorporate good fats like Ghee into your meals for its ability to heal the gut and improve joint mobility. Use local, seasonal produce and make sure to eat well-cooked and warm meals for a seamless transition to Autumn.
To help you get started here’s an easy recipe for the Turmeric-Ginger tea, a perfect refreshing drink to begin cold Autumn days.
½ teaspoon Turmeric powder or fresh grated Turmeric
½ tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey or any natural sweetener of your choice
½ teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
1 cup water
• Add water to a saucepan along with turmeric, ginger, and black pepper.
• Simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to boil over high heat.
• Strain into a mug, add your preferred sweetener as required, and drink it warm.
Nourish your body with oil massages
The onset of Autumn typically makes us prone to Vata imbalance that may manifest in the form of dry skin, insomnia, sluggish digestion and constipation. Oil, when used either internally (along with food) or externally (as topical body oil) in the right way might be able to help counteract the effects of Vata as Autumn progresses.
Our favourite way to incorporate oil into our daily routine is by performing self-massage, also known as Abhyanga in Ayurveda. While giving yourself a relaxing massage is a good idea all year round, be mindful of the kind of oil you might be using. According to Ayurveda, cold-pressed black sesame oil is ideal for body massages to pacify Vata by providing much-needed warmth and nourishment to your joints and muscles.
Gently warm some sesame oil in a glass bowl and apply liberally all over your body. Massage the oil using firm but gentle strokes starting with your feet and working your way up. While you’re at it, also take a few drops of the oil and apply lightly on both nasal passages and ear channels to keep infections at bay. Let the oil seep into your skin for 10-15 minutes after the massage and end with a warm shower. This is a great way to start your day by revitalizing your entire body, irrespective of what time of the year it is. Try to do this at least thrice a week and we are sure it will make a difference to how you feel in the morning.
This one may be appearing last on our list, but is definitely the most important one if you ask us. Vata season, with the dominance of air element, is characterized by movement and restlessness. Hence, this is a good time to slow down the pace of your activities and life in general. For example, if you typically do a fast-paced workout routine, switch that up with something that regulates your breathing, like swimming, yoga or even brisk walking.
Remember to breathe through your nose at regular intervals while working out in order to calm down the gusty force of Vata. But irrespective of what form of physical activity you choose to engage in, practicing breathing techniques like Pranayama might be beneficial in countering excess Vata. A slow-paced, gentle workout routine will not only keep your mind and body in balance, it will also keep you healthy as the weather gets cooler over the next few months.