Starting Autumn off on the Right Foot
Autumn is the ultimate season of transformation. All around us, we bear witness to nature’s process of change: leaves turn color, the air cools and we harvest a whole new crop of fruits and vegetables.
Let’s follow suit by adjusting our lifestyle to fit the seasons! The key is modifying our daily habits, our yoga sessions and our food choices according to the natural transformation in progress.
It may be counterintuitive, but it’s only through change that we are able to put down roots during this transitional period.
AN AYURVEDIC APPROACH TO AUTUMN
According to Ayurvedic medicine, there are three primary doshas (energies). Just as each person has a predominant dosha, each season is also dominated by one of the three doshas.
Vata is autumn’s strongest dosha. Vata controls body movement, as well as nervous system activation and elimination processes. Since Vata and the nervous system are linked, its state can be reflected in our mental health.
With Vata’s abundant energy flowing during the fall season, our bodies and minds can become quickly overwhelmed by the change of seasons. During this time of year, it’s normal to feel unstable or poorly rooted. When we have no solid ground, the least emotion moves us, like a feather in the wind. Solid roots allow us to gain stability, both physically and emotionally.
True, we cannot control seasonal weather changes, but we can maintain our internal balance by adjusting our way of life to counter the predominant Vata energy in nature. To do so, we must incorporate anchoring yoga poses, probiotics (which support intestinal flora balance), a variety of healthy foods and lifestyle choices that naturally have qualities that counter Vata dosha.
Throughout autumn, try to plan your yoga sessions for the same start time and length each day. This will help you build a routine and calm Vata energy and its chaotic tendencies.
Below are two Kundalini yoga poses to encourage anchoring:
- Crow Pose: – Start from standing and place your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. – Turn toes outwards. – Slowly lower yourself into a squatting position and bring your hips as close to your ankles as you can. (Place a rolled-up blanket under your heels if they don’t touch the floor.) – Cross your fingers, except index fingers, and then straighten your arms, pointing your fingers straight ahead. – Concentrate, then begin taking long, deep breaths. – Inhale all the way down to the base of your spine, filling this vital zone, then exhale—letting go of any stress or mental block you might feel.
- Chair Pose: – Start from standing and place your feet shoulder-width apart. – Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. (Note: Place a towel under your heels if they don’t touch the floor). – Slide your hands down along the inner sides of your legs, wrap them around behind your ankles and let your palms come to rest on the tops of your feet. Keep your back straight and chin slightly tucked. Begin slow, deep breathing.
Below are a few tips for following a calming diet during the autumn season:
– Eat warming and comforting foods. For example, roast vegetables instead of eating them raw.– Drink plenty of fluids, like lukewarm water, herbal tea and ginger tea to prevent dehydration.-Eat more sugary, sour and salty foods and fewer bitter, astringent and spicy foods. Below are a few examples of foods that have a calming effect on Vata: Avocados, bananas, mangoes, peaches, lemon, squash, carrots, beets, asparagus, quinoa, rice, mung beans, almonds, sesame seeds and ghee (clarified butter).
Lastly, make sure you get enough sleep! Sleep is even more important in autumn to avoid physical or mental exhaustion. Rest will be your best friend in this transitional period.