Balancing through Imbalance – a Seasonal Ayurveda Practice
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of life. It is a 5,000 year-old holistic approach to health that focuses on maintaining balance in the body and mind in order to prevent and treat illness. In Ayurveda, it is believed that we are all interconnected to natures; as the seasons change we are effected. Each season and each person is ruled by a temperament, known as a doshas. There are three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. These energies are present to some degree in each person and the balance of them sways with our energy shifts that are affected by our actions, diet and the environment. Just as we are in constant flux with our internal balance, so is the environment season to season. Here we will look into the dosha related to autumn and how our diet and routine can help us to maintain balance within change.
Autumn is ruled by the vata dosha. This is a season of rapid change: from sunlight and warmth to darkness and cooling temperatures. With this transition from long summer days to the slower pace of fall we are asked to pause and reflect. The element related to the vata dosha is wind. If you’ve begun to experience dry skin, a feeling of unease, insomnia or anxiety, this is why. Just look at the weather here in the east coast this past week – hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc not just on peoples’ homes and property but also on their emotions. Many of my clients have told me how their sleep and eating habits have been off since the storm. In order to regain balance from this increase in vata energy we need to slow down, gather and nourish.
Fall is the season of the harvest. Taking a cue from nature it is a time to ground yourself through gathering the harvest in your life and storing gratitude for a long dark winter. Mirroring nature and its rhythm in this way allows for us find balance. Look to bring warmth and stability back into your life in order to pacify vata by gathering your energy.
Let’s begin with diet. Again, look to mirror nature. Enjoy the wonderful bounty of fall. Warm yourself with slow cooked meals such as stews and soups. Nurture yourself by eating seasonal produce such as root vegetables and squashes. Preparing for winter, store up the bright tastes of apples and tomatoes by preserving and canning them. Bring stability to your eating routine and be extra mindful not to skip meals. Starting the day with warm water with lemon is a fantastic day to both ground yourself and jumpstart your digestion.
As nature slows down, we too can begin to draw inwards, pause and reflect. Fall is a great time to start or deeper your sadhana practice. Begin a gratitude journal, writing at least one thing a day that brings you love, joy and warmth to your life. Practicing meditation each day, even if just for a few minutes, can help to draw you back to the here and now. When vata is out of balance is when you feel out of control or like you could fly away. Move your body everyday. Practicing some warming yoga sequences can be beneficial but be mindful not to go too hot or too long. A gentle or restorative yoga practice is like a moving meditation and will allow you to connect with your mind and body.
Through this seasonal practice of Ayurveda I hope to help bring you stability and grace through this season of change. Gather your harvest of gratitude and love to keep you glowing and warm as we prepare to transition into the darker days of winter.
Here is a vata-pacifying, grounding sequence to keep you balanced this fall holiday season.
This post originally was written for the Tasty-Yummies site last year. Check them out this year for 99 gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes!