When the wind picks up, the air becomes more subtle and the leaves crunch underfoot … And we know that fall has arrived.
And we love-love-love this time of year! It’s time for Friday night ball games (we love high school marching bands!), Pendleton blankets, and Thermoses full of hot cocoa made with organic chocolate–and adaptogenic herbs, of course.
As the wind whips through the silver sparkles in our hair and our skin becomes increasingly dry, the air and space elements begin whipping around our schedules, which become increasingly hectic with holiday obligations, family gatherings, and end-of-year deadlines.
Say Hello to the Winds of Vata …
This blogpost will explore the Ayurvedic approach to fall. We’re going to break down vata and its elements, look at how these impact our external and internal worlds, and learn ways to keep balanced in the windy days ahead.
The winds of vata are specifically the kind of winds that you experience when hiking into the Grand Tetons or standing atop the 13k and 14k foot peaks of the Colorado Rockies. This wind is cold, dry, rough, subtle, extremely mobile, and erratic. Nothing flourishes above the treeline, right? “It’s all just rocks and dirt,” as Lisa’s mom would say. The atmosphere is light, the oxygen is limited, and the environment, while beautiful, crisp, and clear, can be harsh, brittle, and depleting.
Vata is as Vata Does
Let’s take a detour into the characteristics of vata and explore how these typically show up in individuals. The vata-dominant vixen tends to have a long and narrow frame, long and narrow bones, long and narrow fingers, and, yes, a long and narrow face. Their hair is often dry and thin, and also might be frizzy. She is often cold and dry and you’ll find her wearing layers even in the summer. Her eyes are typically small in size and they might dart around a bit–always looking for something more exciting than what (or who) is right in front of her.
Speaking of exciting, vata types love excitement! Their love of activity, enthusiasm, and adventure contributes to their impulsive nature. She’s not unlike the wind–she’ll change direction without warning.
When it comes to digestion, she has a fickle and unpredictable appetite. She probably forgot to eat lunch yesterday. Such is the story of her scattered, distracted, and over-extended life.
From a mental and emotional standpoint, someone with a dominant vata mind-body constitution tends to be nervous and anxious. Sometime’s she’s indecisive and erratic. Even restless. Stressors like lack of sleep or impending deadlines can send her spiraling into worry, anxiety, fatigue, distraction, exhaustion. But when she’s balanced (ie, she’s had a good night’s sleep and has been well-fed), oh the joy! Vata types are creative, artistic, sensitive, spiritual and funny. A conversation with her is like talking to a bottle of champagne–bubbly, sparkly, effervescent. So. Much. Fun!
The Season of Light
On the ayurvedic calendar, fall and early winter correspond to the vata season. You can feel the cool, dry, subtle, and windy qualities of the air and space elements, which are all on the rise during this time of year. To understand how vata can so easily wreak havoc during the fall transition, it’s important to keep these defining characteristics at the front of our minds. To maintain our balance as we shift with the season, here is an opportunity to put into practice the ‘principle of opposites.’ To counter these cold, dry, rough, erratic attributes, we’ve got three words for you: warmth, oil, and routine.
Warm it Up
- Warm foods and drinks (spoiler alert, stay tuned for our next episode!)
- Warm clothes and colors – fabrics and warm earth tones
- Warm friends and conversation – don’t overdo it on the social engagements, instead opting for events which will nourish you rather than deplete you. Our motto? “If it’s not a hell yeah, just say no!”
Oil it Up
Internally as well as externally.
- Definitely oil your bod this time of year, to counter the drying effects on our skin. Also, think of the practice as a warm embrace for an overactive nervous system. Kind of like a weighted blanket for our nerves. We recommend the NOURISH Vata oil from Copper Cup Ayurveda, it is sooooooo luxurious!
- Increase healthy oils in your diet by adding olive oil, ghee, and sesame oil.
- And … it’s time to oil your orifices, ladies – your ears, your nose, your va-jay-jay …
Keep it Steady
Since this time of year sees an increase in social, professional, and familial events and obligations, it is even more critical to develop and maintain a sense of rhythm to your days.
Start by implementing structure around these three areas:
- When you go to bed. Do the best you can to keep some routine around your bedtime. Sure, there are going to be some holiday parties that keep you out a bit later, but do your bestest to follow a strong evening ritual on the other nights of the week.
- When you wake up. If you stick to a consistent wake up time–even on those nights that you are out late–that will do your body (and mind) a world of good. For more information on the relationship between ayurvedic medicine and circadian medicine, we highly recommend you read “Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life” by Dr Suhas Kshirsagar.
- When you eat. And likewise, if you can keep even the slightest bit of structure around just one of your meals each day, your digestive system will be better equipped to sail through the season with the least amount of disruption. For most of us, breakfast seems to be the meal we have the most control over so this is a good place to start generating consistency. If you don’t have much appetite for breakfast, don’t force it. Opt instead for a cup of sweet, hot chai or this nourishing cooked apple dish by our friend and colleague, Divya Alter.
Guiding Word of the Season: NOURISH
As you move through the hectic and busy days ahead, we encourage you to find ways to implement more of the above-mentioned components into your days and weeks. Allow your body to settle into a pattern of nesting, which is crucial for replenishing our tissues after the scorching heat of summer. While the rest of the world is begging you to join loud parties, stay out late, and overindulge, we encourage you to instead make space on your calendar to go inward, gather your prana, and be a good steward of your ojas. Stay warm, allow yourself to hibernate a bit, and don’t forget to nourish your adrenals. Tend to your inner self, your inner sage. This is the rhythm of nature. Heed it and you’ll be fine.
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