Hey beautiful, Seekers. It's so nice to finally connect again! Ahhh, let's talk about the F-word. Yeah that's right...
For some, fall is their favourite time of year and for others, not so much. Love me or hate me for it, but I seriously love the autumn months. Regardless of where you stand, it's important to take a moment to review how to make the most of your overall well-being this time of year.
Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go - it's a time of transition. It is evident everywhere around you. Many trees and shrubs are quietly undressing in preparation for the winter. There is a subtle browning of the earth.
Temperatures, which not all that long ago were raging with the intense heat of summer, are beginning to hint at the telltale crispness of autumn. And there is the wind: slowly gathering strength, carrying the tides of winter on its breath.
The autumn harbors a certain emptiness that can leave us feeling exposed and a little raw, but it is also filled with possibility—a time when we, too, can strip down to a quiet essence of being and savor the simplicity. According to yoga / Ayurvedic medicine, the fall brings with it a predominance of air element and prana (the vital breath, the subtle essence of life) is abundant in the atmosphere. Autumn is dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear. As you know, we are intricately connected to the seasons and earth. So, it is not uncommon to feel a little rough, erratic, spacey, and worrisome this time of year.
Here's a few signs to look for to spot imbalances this fall season:
-Poor ability to focus or commit
-Gas and bloating
-Dry skin, hair and/or nails
Taking a few simple steps to balance your overall well-being this fall can be tremendously beneficial. Check out below for some handy tips on making the most of this transitional season.
1. Navigate this Season with Grace:
Often, with what we struggle with in life, the opposite "thing" can bring balance. Therefore, this fall season will be less aggravating if you fill it with warmth (fire, candles, baking, etc.), fluidity (honour what you really want to do, warm liquids, baths with salts and oils, etc.), deep nourishment (warm foods, warm people, etc.), loving relationships, and a sense of stability, routine, and groundedness.
2. Embrace a Fall or "Vata" Diet:
Your diet is a powerful way to soothe yourself this fall. Substantive, oily, nourishing foods that are high in protein, high in fat, brought to life with warming, stimulating spices, and served hot, will go a long way toward maintaining your internal reserves of moisture and keeping you grounded through this cool season. You’ll also want to favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. In general, eat mushy, soft foods and garnish them generously with ghee or butter. Breakfasts of cooked grains—like oatmeal, tapioca, cream of rice, quinoa—are perfect at this time of year. Lunches and dinners that include steamed vegetables, hearty grains, soups, and stews are grounding and moisturizing. If you eat meat and eggs, this is one of the best times of year to enjoy them.
In general, you’ll want to reduce your consumption of raw vegetables, cold and frozen foods, as well as the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. It is best to minimize light, cooling, and drying foods like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, leafy greens, white potatoes, beans, popcorn, crackers, millet, and dried fruit. If you do eat these foods, eat them in moderation and make sure that they are soaked, well cooked, or served with ghee or butter.
You may find that, during the course of the fall, you’ll naturally want to increase your intake of food, but be careful to follow the lead of your appetite and digestion. Fall requires adequate nourishment so it is best to avoid fasting this time of year.
3. Fall Lifestyle Choices
One of the most effective ways to support yourself this fall is by establishing a daily routine. Try to do the same things (wake up, exercise, eat meals, go to bed, etc.) at roughly the same times each day. Set the tone for your day by rising early, taking full advantage of the silence, stillness, and peace that are intrinsic to the early morning hours. Then, you can calm your nervous system, awaken your tissues, and ground your energy by massaging your skin with warm, organic sesame oil. Follow this practice with a warm, relaxing shower, leaving a coat of oil on the skin to absorb throughout the day. Steam baths and humidifiers can help to preserve internal moisture as well. Some gentle yoga, and ten to fifteen minutes of meditation will further your sense of stability and wellness.
If you enjoy a little fragrance, vetiver, geranium, and citrus essential oils are very appropriate this time of year. Dress in autumn colors when appropriate for you—reds, yellows, oranges and whites—and wear enough clothes that you stay warm throughout the day. When you step out into the elements, cover your head and ears to protect them from the biting wind and cold. If possible, minimize your exposure to drafts, loud noise, aggressive music, fast driving, and excessive activity. Try to be in bed by 10 p.m. so that you get plenty of rest before dawn.
4. Fall Exercise
During this time of year it's easy to become aggravated by fast, mobile activities, so consider slow, gentle, strengthening forms of exercise instead. Walking, hiking, swimming, biking, yoga, and tai chi are good choices, provided they are done at an appropriate level of intensity. Ideally, exercise at about fifty to seventy percent of your capacity, breathing through your nose the entire time. And remember to balance your activity with adequate relaxation and sleep so that your tissues can rejuvenate properly.
Vata Season Yoga
Incorporating a sense of warmth, grounding, stability, and focus into your yoga practice has a profoundly calming effect on vata and can work wonders during vata season. Your breath should be deep and fluid. If you practice pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), Alternate Nostril Breathing is very balancing this time of year.
In your asana practice, favor vata-pacifying yoga (grounding, calming and warm). Warm up slowly and include some joint rotations. Move with intention and fluidity—grounding the hands and the feet on the mat whenever possible—and avoid jumping between postures. Gentle flows like a relaxed Sun Salutations are perfect for vata. You can also favor standing and balancing poses to increase stability and strength. Connect with the earth beneath you in poses such as Thunderbolt, Cat-Cow, Cobra and Child's Pose and quiet the mind with forward bends. Gentle inversions and restorative poses such as Legs Up the Wall are also very good for fall season. Close your practice with a long Savasana, covering yourself with a blanket so that you don’t get chilled.
A seasonal routine is an investment in your own health and vitality. And while the specifics may vary from one person to the next, we all stand to benefit from aligning ourselves with the rhythms of nature throughout the year. This fall, embrace the unique gifts of autumn and—with the help of an appropriate seasonal routine—enjoy it from a place of stability, humility, and gratitude.
Much like almost everything in life, this time of year will be a reflection of what we choose to make it and the perception we embrace. If we resist it, it simply persists and that does a complete disservice to ourselves. Find your ways to take in this restorative, reflective and settling down season.
Wishing you love & a gentle transition,