25 Apr A Balanced Autumn with Ayurveda
Ayurveda is an ancient art of medicine, which began in India. Now practised all over the world, Ayurveda translates to the science of life. It’s a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that consists of three primary doshas (constitutions); the fiery pitta, earthy kapha, and the airy vata. These characteristics are found in people, seasons, foods, yoga poses, and most other things we do. Ayurveda says that in order to be healthy, we need to be balanced.
Autumn is the vata season of the year; with cold dry winds. Vata is characterised by fast, cold, light, dry, rough, thin, brittle, and subtle. This is why sometimes we wake up in autumn with stiff and tight joints and muscles, crave more dense and heavy foods, have dry hair and skin, or even suffer from more stress and anxiety. These are all signs we’ve become out of balance due to the vata qualities in the air.
So what can we do in autumn to try and balance those airy vata characteristics?
Foods to eat
In autumn we should be reaching for warm, dense, cooked foods. Think pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, and greens. We should also be cooking them with healthy fats and oils to keep the dryness at bay. Also go for warm drinks (teas, chai, turmeric lattes) rather than cold beverages.
Yoga poses to try
When it comes to our yoga practice, we want to focus on grounding shapes. Forward folds are a beautiful shape to ground down and slow the body. When it comes to standing poses, go for shapes that favour both feet on the ground, Warrior I and Warrior II, goddess pose, and yogic squat. For a few more poses that are gentler and closer to the ground try cat-cow, baby cobra, and child’s pose. It can be really calming on the nervous system at this time to include gentle inversions like happy baby or supported shoulder stand (even using the wall).
Meditation is very important for grounding. Find somewhere you feel connected to nature and simply sit and breathe. Even just for five to ten minutes a day. If you have a very busy mind a mantra can be a really helpful way to stay present. Try ‘So Hum’. It’s translated to ‘I am’ and is a very grounding mantra. Think ‘So’ as you breathe in, and ‘Hum’ as you breathe out.
Ayurveda is all about sleep. If that means you’re napping when you are tired and have the chance, go for it. It’s also important to get in those seven to eight hours each night. The best way to make sure your body is ready for sleep is to stay away from caffeine and large meals later in the day, stay away from your phone and computer at night and prepare for bed with a minute or so of really big deep and slow breaths to really slow your system down.
Don’t shy away from essential oils. They can be incredibly therapeutic and grounding. The Ayurvedic practice of massaging your body with warm almond oil will help keep the body moist and hydrated.