And, all of a sudden it's cooler outside! The wind changed, the lighting has changed, the air is less humid. We are entering vata season and right quick. Note: If it hasn't happened where you live just yet, stay mindful. The weather will change pretty rapidly (like the wind!) when it's time.
How (and why) to transition properly from summer into fall.
Summer is pitta season, which is ruled by the elements fire and water. In summer we favor cooling fruits and vegetables and choose exercise that will cool us down.
Fall and early winter is vata season, which is ruled by the elements space (ether) and air. The energy of fall and winter is completely different than summer and so, our diet and lifestyle needs to adjust accordingly. The change of season is when we are most likely to get sick and it's important to make a nice transition from one to the other.
Transition into vata season with these 6 simple practices.
1. Foods for vata season
Since we are moving from warm climate to cooler climate in the fall, we will begin to wean off of cooling foods from summer and instead, bring in grounding, warming foods for fall. This week, finish up the cold, crispy veggies you have and begin buying root vegetables. I did the same thing this week. Fennel bulb, beets, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potato are all great items to start with.
In addition, start having warm meals. No more salads, raw veggies, or ice cream this time of year! Soups, stews, roasted veggies, and rice or pasta bowls will bring the grounding sustenance our bodies need to combat the cold, brisk, fast-moving energy of vata season. It's also important to incorporate healthy oils and fats into meals because one of the root causes of vata problems is dryness.
2. Exercise for vata season
Now is not the time of year for super bouncy, jumpy, hoppy, overly cardio exercise. We want to slow down, with the goal to increase strength and flexibility. Vata energy is cold, light and can be brittle/breakable. We want to bring out the opposite qualities to stay balanced. So for example, we might reduce our weekly running mileage and swap in 3 yoga sessions per week. Instead of bouncy cardio, we might trade for focused weight-lifting sessions. If you aren't sure what to do, just go straight to yoga — it's tri-doshic (good for all doshas)!
3. Skincare for vata season
You will likely notice that your skin gets way more dry in fall! *Like, I am sitting in front of a space heater right now and everything is frying, drying. My face is raisined.*
Applying oils externally is important this time of year because unlike lotions (water + alcohol = both drying), the oils seep into our skin and deepest tissues to leave us soft, stretchy, and "fills in" wrinkles and dryness. Vatas can use sesame (cold-pressed, not toasted) or almond oil, pittas can use almond oil, kaphas can use no oil (they are oily enough as is) or a light oil like safflower or sunflower.
Massage the oils on your skin before (recommended) or after (second best) your shower and apply to the entire body. Try this daily for one week and see how awesome your skin feels and how settled your mind has become!
4. Consistent restorative sleep
Not getting enough sleep consistently is one of the fastest ways to vata aggravation. When vata dosha is aggravated or increased, we may experience anxiety, worry, constipation, bloating, crampies, racing of the mind, restlessness, inability to focus, and dry skin to name a few problemos.
To promote sound and regular sleep the formula is simple: Bed at least by 10pm. Maybe earlier if you need to catch up on poor sleep habits you've acquired over time. Then, wake before sunrise (even 10 minutes) because when we wake before sunrise, we rise in the energy of vata, which is the energy of movement. It will give us an energized start to the day and sustained energy until the end of the day. Try this for 1 week too and see how much different you feel. Tip: Even if it's hard to wake up early at first, keep a good attitude. Say, "This is hard but I'm doing it! I am going to change my energy today and I'm excited about what the day has to offer!" Instead of, "This sucks. I hate waking up early." Start your day on a positive and it will be so!
5. Follow the Ayurvedic daily routine
Consistency is key for vata — and not consistently flying by the seat of your pants ;) Make sure you have a daily routine to surround yourself with structure. It will set your mind at ease because you don't have to overthink your next steps. While improvising is fun (and necessary) sometimes, living on a whim for the long term will create disturbances in the mind like anxiety, uncertainty, worry, panic, etc., Build a consistent rhythm and structure to your day and use the ayurvedic daily routine as your keystone.
6. Kitchari cleanse
If you already know a little bit about Ayurveda, consider a kitchari cleanse! This mono-diet of rice, dahl, veggies and digestive spices will reset and prime our digestion for the upcoming season. Doing a kitchari cleanse is not difficult, but requires discipline and guidance.
Now, none of these are complicated, expensive, or difficult to practice. You are fully capable (even if you are new to Ayurveda) of making these changes to support and harmonize your health during the changes in the season.
Share with your friends and family! We are in this together to help each other live the best lives we can. Keep practicing and keep bringing Ayurveda to life!