Autumn is a time of transition.
The days are slowly getting shorter. The temperatures, which just a few short weeks ago were raging with the intense heat of summer, are beginning to hint at the telltale crispness of autumn. The leaves on the trees are beginning to paint a rainbow of reds, oranges, purples as they get ready to quietly undress for the winter. And there is the wind: slowly gathering strength, carrying the tides of winter on its breath.
The autumn is filled with possibility. It can feel like a time of fresh starts and creativity. It also harbors a certain emptiness that can leave us feeling exposed and a little raw.
Before we go any further, let me briefly introduce you to Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is a tradition with its roots in ancient India that is thought to be over five thousand years old. The word “Ayurveda” is derived from two words in Sanskrit, “ayuh” meaning “life” or “longevity” and “veda” meaning “science” or “sacred knowledge.” Ayurveda’s definition therefore roughly translates as “the science of longevity” or “the sacred knowledge of life.” At its core, Ayurveda is a holistic tradition and way of living that is all about balance: the Sanskrit word for health, svastha, is a state in which the mind, soul, and senses interact harmoniously to experience a feeling of Self, wellness, and even bliss.
I’m not going to try and explain everything about Ayurveda here - it would be impossible - but let me just give you a couple of the key building blocks.
Ayurveda recognizes five elements as the fundamental building blocks of nature:
These elements make up every substance in the world, including us. Every substance contains all five of these elements; within any substance, one or two elements are typically predominant over the others.
The combination of these elements are known as doshas. There are three: vata, pitta and kapha. The doshas, or some combination of them, can be identified in various seasons, climates, landscapes, activities, plants, and animals. Each of them embodies a combination of elements and qualities to create a functional entity—an energetic force of nature.
Each of us has a combination of these three doshas in our bodies at any given time. There is a combination of doshas we are born with, called our constitution or prakriti in Sanskrit. This is our natural state of balance; the three doshas aren’t necessarily equal but they represent our unique state of balance. Then there is our current state, our vikriti - how strong the doshas are in us at this time. If our doshas are out of balance with our natural constitution, our health starts to suffer.
If you want to know more about your constutition and current vikriti, this is one of the best online quizzes I’ve come across: Dosha Quiz
An important principle of Ayurveda is that like increases like. Add more heat to something - the pitta energy - and you’ll increase the heat and fire in it. This principle also means we are often drawn to things that increase our imbalance. Which is why taking a few simple steps to balance vata this autumn can be tremendously beneficial for all of us. We already live in a world that has an excess of vata energy - hyperactivity, overstimulated, all that technology in ether around us - so these practices will be helpful for everyone, particularly at this time of year.
As I mentioned before, the seasons also are identifiable by their dosha.
Autumn is dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear. It brings with it a predominance of air element and prana - the subtle essence of life - is abundant in the atmosphere. These are the qualities of vata - autumn is considered a vata season.
At times of excess vata, we want to ground, warm and calm. Here are a few ideas to get you started - for an in-depth guide to the season, check out this guide.
Movement - get grounded.
Go for a walk; notice the connection between your feet and the ground. If you practice yoga, focus on standing poses. Slow your practice down; hold poses for longer.
Nutrition - warm up.
As the weather cools, our need to heat up increases. Warm yourself from the inside out. Start with warm water and lemon in the mornings and spicy herbal teas throughout the afternoon. For lunch and dinner, try cooked vegetables like asparagus, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes with lots of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.
For those of you with a pumpkin spice latte addiction, try making your own to get the benefits without the sugar hit. Try this (vegan) recipe.
Mindfulness - create structure.
Routine and ritual are critical for balancing and grounding vata energy. You might find that your routines from the summer don’t serve you as well - it’s much harder to wake up early when it’s dark outside. Take the opportunity to reset your routine in the morning and the evening.
You will benefit from an effort to slow down, ground, and do some self-nurturing this time of year. Make a conscious effort to mellow your intensity and resist the impulse to overbook yourself.
Spirituality - get connected.
Connection helps ground us, especially our connection to nature. Get outside for a walk. Have a small token of nature, like a pinecone, on your desk. Spend time with people who fill you up.
If you need some help transitioning and finding your balance this autumn, book your free strategy call with me now.