Many of us in the Western Cape enjoy the beautiful, cooler days of Autumn – I know this is my most favourite season. Instinctively as the days and nights become cooler we feel the need to change our eating and life-style patterns. Perhaps we add a blanket to the bed, a warmer top and socks in the evenings, and start making more stew-like or soup dishes for our main meals.
Autumn is predominantly a Vata-type season – cool, dry, light, rough are some of the qualities of vata and these attributes start to show within and without our bodies. Perhaps you notice the rough skin on your heels after the sandal season of summer. Vata dosha is the dosha of movement and thus it governs the other two doshas - pitta and kapha, and at this time of year if not carefully pacified will cause aggravation to the other two if it becomes imbalanced.
Vata is responsible for all movement within the body – think of neuron impulses of the nervous system, the movement of wastes out of the body, the breath flowing in and out, blood flowing through the blood vessels, even speaking uses the attributes of vata, and these are a few amongst many other functions relating to movement. Vata is seated in the colon (predominantly) therefore any aggravation or imbalance will most likely manifest here first, with symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation. Other signs of vata imbalance are dry lips, dryness inside the nostrils, dry or parched skin, erratic sleep patterns, irregular appetite, stress and tiredness. If you notice any of these changes it is time to start a vata-pacifying regime and routine.
In autumn, we look to bring balance to the vata dosha by focusing on the opposite qualities to those of vata. Choose grounding, warming, moisturising and nourishing foods and lifestyle to offset the dryness and cold. Stillness such as meditation and routine, regularity and rest bring harmony once again.
All these tips are especially significant to do if your predominant dosha is vata, or you are in the vata stage of life (older age).
Ayurveda for Autumn Summary:
• Focus on warming, nourishing foods, rich in oils and ghee, warming spices such as ginger, cumin and cinnamon. Have warm soft breakfasts such as porridge to which you can also add some spice. To help you sleep, have a warm milk drink at the end of the day with some ginger, a grating of nutmeg and a bit of sugar added. Avoid dry foods like breakfast cereals, dry muesli, pop corn, and stay away from ice cold drinks and foods. Stick to regular meal times and for better digestion, try to have the main meal near midday each day.
• Stay hydrated by drinking sufficient pure water each day.
• Take care of your skin by self-massaging the whole body daily with warming sesame oil. Try nourishing face masks made with natural ingredients from your kitchen. See below.
• Increase times of stillness and meditation in your day, let this be a time to connect with yourself and settle any movement. Also reduce anything that contributes to excess movement, for example travelling, rushing around and fast and vigorous sports or yoga. Slow down by going for a walk in nature, practice calming and grounding yoga poses, do slow deep balancing pranayama, meditate, write in your journal, listen to beautiful music, etc.
Nourishing facial mask: Take 2 Tbs honey and blend well with 2tsp milk
Apply to face, leave for 10-15minutes then wash off with lukewarm water.
Use almond oil with a few drops of vata pacifying essential oil blend to the face and leave on overnight.