The mornings are getting crisper; the sun is more relenting. The breezes are more sweeping, and there’s an uncertainty about the weather.
Internal dialogue shifts to “Do I need a jacket?” “I need to remember to wear layers.” “I’ll start carrying a light scarf.”
We are arriving at the sandhi “the joint” of the seasons. It’s a magical, mystical time of transition, where the outer environment is signaling a shift. It’s an opportunity to mix things up and carries excitement for something new.
A new wardrobe. A new pulse to the day. New recipes. A new set of activities to look forward to…
What else might change?
Maybe, greater permission to go within, slow down, and have more gaps in the day for just being.
These are the blessings of the Fall season. These are the blessings of change. And these are the blessing of Vata.
Vata is the archetype of the union of Air and Ether, and therefore has the qualities of dry, light, cold, rough, hard, mobile, clear, subtle.
These elements and their respective qualities are activated during the Fall, so Fall is classified as a Vata season.
Without Vata we would get bored. Nothing would change. We owe the rhythm of the day, the year, and our life to Vata’s pulsating force of change.
Vata brings a freshness to our being with which we meet life with renewed vitality and vigor. It is the essence of excitement. You feel it in the air. It’s in that morning chill. It’s heralding something new is on the horizon for you, and it feels so good!
… if your doshas are in balance.
If you are already over-worked, stressed, anxious, and not sleeping well, this change of seasons with its mobile, light, dry, subtle, clear, and cold qualities could very well push you over the edge. Whether you express excitement or anxiety depends on your baseline state. When you are already “Vata-up,” more change just makes you more aggravated.
I want you to get excited about Fall and all the opportunity the freshness of this experience provides. Your outer world is gently nudging you and guiding you to adapt your life, and all you need to do is listen.
… and follow these 10 steps so that you get to feel all that Fall is meant to be.
- Wear a light scarf. Keep your neck covered, even in a tank top. The cool breezy currents in and around the throat make you more susceptible to fall colds and flus.
- Eat more. It’s time to start shifting from the lightness of summer, when appetite and agni plummet, to more food, heavier foods, and more grounding foods, such as root vegetables, nuts, seeds, and more protein. Prepare food warm, cooked, and soupy. Kitchari is the perfect fall food. If you were eating 2 meals a day, just lunch and dinner, you’ll likely do better with adding in a small breakfast.
- Add more healthy fats. This doesn’t mean fried. Just be more liberal with cooking and dressing oils. Choose oils according to their smoke points and your dosha.
- Use more warming, digestive spices such as, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, bay leaves, mustard seeds, and curry leaves. This will minimize the gas, bloating, and irregular digestion that can be the hallmark of this season. Also, this is a real opportunity to get more creative, even with simple recipes – adding in some extra cinnamon where you don’t expect it (like in black beans) or some pumpkin spice into your golden milk.
- Limit caffeine. Caffeine depletes your adrenal glands, challenges your nervous system, and interferes with restorative sleep. Your hormones and nervous system are already adapting to seasonal change in addition to their usual managing of modern life. They need soothing, not more challenges.
- Anchor in your daily routine – with regular sleep, wake, and mealtimes. This may not seem as important as it actually is. Remember babies. What’s one of the most important things for their wellbeing? A schedule. When it comes to the nervous system, some things don’t change.
- Oil your body. Be sure to include your ears, the top of your head, and the soles of your feet, as these are your prime energy exits. Oil both in and on the body balances the dryness in the air caused by the wind blowing around during this season. This is also the ultimate self-care practice in Ayurveda – abhyanga. If it’s not yet part of your daily routine, fall is the time.
- Practice mindfulness. Movement in the mind is one of the biggest drivers for movement and irregularity in the body. Your entire day can be a meditation if you stay present to what you are actually doing in that moment. This is so simple, so powerful, and so often overlooked.
- Favor quality over quantity. You need to create space for magic and mystery. When things are changing, there is a tendency to start and stop multiple things without completion and to collect the unnecessary. Remember to focus on just a few things that bring you joy. More things and more activities don’t equal more joy. If often equals less.
- Plant Yourself. The elements of Fall are Air and Ether, therefore Earth brings the most balance. Spend time in nature to align with natural rhythm. Touch the earth with your hands and feet. Try to minimize time on the internet and escapes such alcohol and recreational drugs that disembody you – connecting you with the Ether versus the Earth.
Follow these 10 steps, and you will have balanced the
dry, light, cold, rough, hard, mobile, clear, subtle
Vata qualities of this season.
From this place of balance, you can tune into the frequency of Fall’s potential.
From this place of balance, you can alchemize anxiety to excitement, disembodiment to insight, and frenzy to inspiration.
I hope you enjoy the Fall.
Nisha Khanna MD
To learn more about Vata and how to balance doshas to disease visit my Ayurveda Foundations Course or Ayurvedic Self-Care Course.
Please note this content is for medical purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.