The seasons change quickly here in New England! Fall is definitely upon us. Ayurveda is all about recognizing how our body is a reflection of nature’s rhythms. So in order to thrive, it’s crucial to shift diet and habits as the seasons shift.
Fall is Vata season – the season of the air and space elements (think of the wind!).
- Vata is light, dry, mobile, ungrounded, and cold.
- In Ayurveda, we balance by bringing in the opposite qualities through all of our senses. In fall we favor: heavy, moist, grounding, warm energetics to our foods and habits.
Vata symptoms that you might see aggravate this time of year include:
- Constipation, gas and bloating
- Dry skin and mucous membranes (the body can also overproduce mucous to protect, so you may find more mucous this time of year)
- Increased aches and pains
- Poor quality sleep
1) FOODS TO FAVOR: Digestion is ruled by the fire element. Think of a campfire in your belly that breaks down and transforms the food you eat into the building blocks of your body. In Ayurveda, your digestive fire is called agni. Your agni gets stronger as we move into the colder months. Your body is preparing to digest the heavier fats and proteins that will keep you warm, insulated and lubricated throughout the cold, dry months.
- Favor cooked foods. Limit raw foods. Soups and warm, cooked, moist, well-spiced foods are ideal.
- Root veggies, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets and winter squashes
- Cooked greens, like kale and swiss chard
- Seeds and nuts
- Cold-pressed oils such as ghee, coconut, sesame or avocado
- Warming spices like cumin, fennel, salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger (fresh or ground)
- Moist, cooked grains, such as wheat, oats and rice
- Proteins, small legumes, such as mung beans and red lentils; eggs, and most meat
- Sweet, heavy fruit: bananas, apples, pears, mangoes and dates
- Warm, spiced cow’s milk or almond milk (Be cautious with hard cheeses and non-diluted yogurt as these are hard to digest and create a lot of mucous)
2) SIP WARM WATER: One of the easiest ways to keep your digestion strong (which is the foundation of immunity and overall health) is to drink warm water. Drinking warm water first thing in the morning will help to strengthen digestion and elimination, support circulation and offer a gentle detox.
3) EARLY TO BED: Less daylight is a call to tap into deeper rest. The light, ungrounded nature of Vata means less stamina, so Vata season is a time when rest and rejuvenation is crucial. Getting to bed by 10pm will greatly improve the quality of your sleep and connect you to deeper rejuvenation. Here’s the piece: Not all 8 hours of sleep is created equal! Sleeping 10pm – 6am will support deep rejuvenation because you’re getting to bed during the kapha hours of the day (water/earth element) which rules stability, rejuvenation and immunity. Sleeping 12-8am will send you into the next day already sleep deprived. A double whammy is falling asleep past 10pm AND getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep. This is setting you up for long-term deep depletion.
4) REGULAR MEALTIMES: Vata is irregular and ungrounded, so we balance with the opposite qualities. One of the ways we keep digestion strong is to teach our agni when to “stoke.” When we eat at irregular times, our digestion gets super confused, it weakens, and we set ourselves up for digestive issues, toxicity, fatigue, mental instability and poor immunity.
A good general guideline is:
- Breakfast within 2 hours of waking
- Lunch between 11am-1pm (largest meal of the day, with more fats and proteins)
- Dinner by 7pm (lighter, plant-based meal)
5) WARM OIL MASSAGE: Before or after bathing, morning or evening, take some time to massage warm sesame or almond oil onto your skin (including scalp, ears, nostrils and soles of your feet). Find “how to” instructions and video here.
6) CONNECT WITH NATURE: Bundle up and spend time outside as often as possible. If dealing with depression, take a morning walk facing the direction of the rising sun.
To learn more about how to support yourself with Ayurveda, schedule a free Discovery Session with me here.
Flow with the rhythms of nature and thrive!