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The Vata Season of Fall - Self-care Tips

The Fall Equinox is this coming Saturday, but we're already experiencing the cool mornings and cool nights. Soon the leaves will turn color, and the smell of apples and pumpkins will fill the air. Autumn has the qualities of dry, windy, rough, cool, subtle, and clear. These are also the qualities of Vata dosha in Ayurveda; so, Autumn is the beginning of Vata season. Vata imbalances include:

  • Dryness in the body such as dry skin, hair, or in the joints, such as arthritis;

  • Nervous system disorders, such as flightiness, anxiousness, worry, and sleeplessness,

  • Weak digestion, such as gas, bloating, constipation; and

  • Dehydration.

Here are some tips to stay healthy this season and to avoid Vata imbalances.

Establish a Routine: Having a daily routine is the best way to support Vata. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day and eat meals around the same time every day. Not having a routine with sleeping and eating can disrupt your biorhythms and disturb your digestion.

Diet/Food: Favor denser, more nourishing food in the Fall, such as:

Breakfast – oatmeal, cream of rice, eggs, or cooked apples.

Lunch/Dinner – hearty stews and soups, bone broth, steamed vegetables, roasted root vegetables, whole grains (basmati rice, brown rice or quinoa), meats, kidney beans, mung beans, oils (almond oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, or ghee), nuts and dairy. Use lots of spices, especially warming spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, black pepper, garlic, ginger, cumin, dill, mustard seeds, oregano, rosemary, saffron, and turmeric.

Raw vegetables, cold or frozen foods, and drying foods, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, leafy greens, white potatoes, beans, popcorn, crackers, and millet should be kept to a minimum. But if you do eat vegetables in the brassica family, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale, be sure to cook them.

Exercise: Vata is aggravated by very fast activities, so do slower, strengthening exercises such as walking, hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, or tai chi. Do them at a medium level of intensity, making sure you can breathe through your nose comfortably. Exercise in the early mornings between 6am and 10am, or in the evening hours between 6pm and 10pm.

Yoga Practice – include slower, more grounding asanas in your practice. Warm up slowly and include joint rotations to lubricate the joints. Then try a gentle, flowing Sun Salutation to warm up. Include standing poses such as Mountain, Warrior I, Warrior II or Tree Pose to build stability and strength. Grounding poses are important to reduce nervousness and anxiety. Try Cobra, Child’s Pose, Happy Baby, Bridge, Pigeon; and of course, close with Savasana (Corpse Pose), but cover yourself with a blanket so that you don’t get cold.

Herbs: There are many herbs for this season, but here are a few to try.

Ashwagandha can help calm the mind and nervous system. It promotes sound sleep but it's not a sedative, so it won't work quickly. Rather take it during the day (½-1 tsp. of the tincture, 3x daily) can help ease you into sleep when it’s time for bed.

Astragalus is a great immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, adaptogen herb that’s also a lung tonic and anti-viral. So it can help support your immune system for the upcoming cold/flu season.

CCF Tea is a famous Ayurvedic tea that is a combination of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds. It helps promote healthy digestion and soothe digestive discomfort, such as gas and bloating. CCF Tea also helps the body gently detox and can help to reduce puffiness, lose excess water weight, warm up circulation, and improve metabolism.

Abhyanga/Massage: Massage yourself with warm sesame oil to combat Fall dryness. Go here for instructions on Abhyanga.

Lastly, wear layers of clothes to stay warm, and drink water to stay hydrated.

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