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Fall is the quintessential time of change and transition. The wind begins to pick up, arriving with the element of air. We start to come inward, preparing for winter. Our Ayurveda routines change in the fall, supporting us in one of our favorite times of the year.
The fall season holds the perfect antidote to the fast-paced mobility of the summer. This is a time to reflect, rest, hold space, vision, hibernate, withdraw some of your outwardly-focused energy and redirect it inward.
Autumn and Winter are considered a Vata Season as it is dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear. If we’re not mindful of our routines, we too become erratic, disconnected and ungrounded…just like the wind. Do you see that in you and your friends as well?
In your climate you may notice that there are many warm days, resembling the heat of a pitta summer. During those days, it will be better to return to your Summer Ayurvedic lifestyle and diet routines to support your journey. Follow the rhythm of the season.
Ayurveda teaches us that routines are important, and to support our bodies through a change in routine with each season. In the fall season, we introduce the qualities of warmth, groundedness, moisture, and rhythm.
By making diet and lifestyle choices that counter the effects of each season, we can better maintain our internal sense of equilibrium throughout the year.
Autumn will be less aggravating if you fill it with warmth, oiliness, deep nourishment, loving relationships, and a sense of stability, routine, and groundedness.
In general, you’ll want to cultivate a light heart and a sharp sense of purpose this fall & winter in order to counter the cold, gray weather and the seasonal tendency toward melancholy and loneliness. Invite warmth into your mind, body, and relationships, and create frequent opportunities for fun and laughter.
Try to avoid rushing. Instead, make a concerted effort to embrace a slower, more relaxed pace through the fall & winter months. This is a great time to engage in meaningful relationships and to socialize, but balance your gregariousness with some quiet time, reflection, and stillness. After all, the slow, heavy qualities of the winter months offer a rare opportunity to retreat and check-in with ourselves.
The best times of day to exercise during the Vata season, are in the early morning and evening hours (6–10 a.m. and 6–10 p.m.)
During this time of year, we embrace gentle, slow, strengthening forms of exercise instead of faster Vata type exercise, so help combat the nature of this season.
Choose activities such as a restorative or yin yoga, a hike to take in the autumn colors, tai chi or less vigorous types of cardiovascular exercise.
We allow ourselves time to rest a little bit more during this time of year, but it is also important to move. So listen to your body…If you’re feeling sluggish, kick it up a notch, if you’re feeling overextended and busy, then take it down a bit and move a little more gently.
Listen to the weather too! When it’s rainy or snowy, then Ayurveda tells us to push ourselves in our workouts a little bit more to balance the qualities of the atmosphere.
It’s important to keep moving in the fall time. I love connecting with my family and friends during a fall time hike or bike ride. The autumn fresh air is invigorating and filled with memories, and I try to get as much as I can, as I know that snow will be falling soon!
Ayurvedic Autumn-time Eating
When the air starts to cool, we know it’s time to start changing the foods we eat as well. We leave behind the lighter, foods of summer and step toward the bounty of the season’s harvest.
We start to favor sweet, sour and salty tastes, and lean toward the Substantive, oily, nourishing foods that are high in protein, high in fat, brought to life with warming, stimulating spices, and served hot.
Instead of cooling foods, we look for mushy, soft foods and garnish them generously with ghee or oil.
We start the day with breakfasts of cooked grains; like oatmeal, tapioca, cream of rice, and cream of wheat with fruit, like apples and pears, sauteed in cinnamon and cardamom with ghee.
Lunches and dinners include steamed vegetables, hearty grains, soups, and stews that are grounding and moisturizing, with lots of yummy flavors.
If you eat meat and eggs, this is one of the best times of year to enjoy them. Dairy products and most nuts and seeds are also beneficial.
Be mindful of minimizing light, cooling, and drying foods like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, leafy greens, white potatoes, beans, popcorn, crackers, millet, and dried fruit. If you do eat these foods, eat them in moderation and make sure that they are soaked, well-cooked, or served with ghee.
Drinks should be room temperature, warm, or hot. Avoid iced, chilled drinks and carbonated beverages if possible. Keep alcohol and coffee in moderations and start the day with warm water with lemon or lime.
Contrary to popular belief, due to the windy nature of the season, straight fasting during this time of year is not recommended. A supervised kitchari cleanse is a more supportive type of fasting. For a more detailed type of cleanse, check out Dr. Doulliards Colorado Cleanse.
For a detailed list of supportive foods to embrace this time of year, click below for a downloadable PDF of grocery items to pick up a the grocery store.
Fall-time Ayurvedic Habits
During this time of transition, it is important to establish a daily routine. Try to do the same things (wake up, exercise, eat meals, go to bed, etc.) at roughly the same times each day.
Start your morning with some gentle yoga, and ten to fifteen minutes of meditation to further your sense of stability and wellness.
Dress in autumn colors when appropriate—reds, yellows, oranges and whites—and wear enough clothes that you stay warm throughout the day. When stepping out into the elements, cover your head and ears to protect them from the biting wind and cold.
If possible, minimize your exposure to drafts, loud noise, aggressive music, fast driving, and excessive sexual activity.
Make sure to stay plenty hydrated throughout the day. Keep a warm cup of water or tea nearby and sip on it continually to keep your hydration up and feel your best.
End your day with steam baths or humidifiers to help to preserve internal moisture. You can make it even more beneficial with vetiver, geranium, sage, cedar, woody and citrus essential oils.
Try to be in bed by 10 p.m. so that you get plenty of rest before dawn.
Abhyagna is the practice of self-massage with oil. This is a habit that should be practiced all year long. Depending on the time of year or which dosha is predominant, the type of oil may change, but the routine should not.
To practice self-massage, shower or bath as normal and dry off with a towel. Then lovingly massage the oil into your skin. Be sure to massage your muscles while rubbing the oil onto your whole body. Then, step back into the shower and allow the water to rinse off the excess oil, but be sure not to use soap! You’ll notice that depending on the oil you use, it can set your day perfectly!
During the fall, reach for a sesame based oils, such as Banyan Botanicals Vata Oil (I LOVE this oil).
Those of you that know me, are aware that I’m obsessed with Banyan Botanicals Nasya Oil. I know it sounds a little bit nuts to put drops of oil up your nose. But let me tell you…this stuff is Uh-mazing.
Living at 8,000 ft altitude has been tough for this sea-level east-coast girl. I was having daily, 1-2 nosebleeds a day, because of the altitude and dry air. But since starting Nasya Oil, I only have about 1 nosebleed a month. That’s effective! And added bonus, while I was at the eye doctor last month, she commented on how my eyes weren’t as irritated and dry. Nasya Oil is the only thing I’ve added to my daily routine this year. I think it’s helping my eyes too. Try this practice and let me know how it goes.
After your morning shower, lay down on the bed with your head hanging over the side of the bed, upside down. Place a few drops of the Nasya Oil in each nostril, gently squeeze the sides of your nose as you sniff the oil deeper into the nasal passages.
The oil coats the inside of your nasal cavity combatting the drying effect of the season. This is one of my favorite health habits of the season and I know you will love it too!
Fall is such an amazing time of year! However, we can easily become unground if we don’t make changes in our lifestyle. Embrace these Ayurveda habits to promote balance on your journey this season!