Within the past 30 minutes gazing out of the window on this September morning I have seen the sun and a clear blue sky... Then a few white clouds turning into a dark grey overcast covering the sun completely. It is windy and cool. Very changeable weather indeed.
Welcome to autumn.
In ayurveda we recognise that our external environment affects us internally as well. The qualities of autumn is cool and windy. Autumn weather is very changeable and sometimes erratic. It is also a time of change. These qualities are shared with the element of Air and the Vata dosha.
If you are not familiar with Ayurveda, the elements and doshas here is a very quick introduction: Ayurveda - and Yoga - believes everything is made out of five elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
In a human being these elements interact with each other and manifest as the three doshas: Vata (Air and Space), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Water and Earth). We are all a unique combination of the elements and, as such, also of the doshas. When the doshas are in balance with our unique constitution we are healthy.
When imbalanced we can become unwell. Through lifestyle and diet we try to find our natural balance.
As we can't change the weather, our external environment, we can try to create balance through our routine, food, daily life and maybe our yoga practise.
Stay balanced through the autumn with the teaching of "Like increases Like". As it is cool outside we create a warm environment inside, as the weather is changeable and windy we encourage a stable and grounded routine in our daily life
This way we can balance the cool, changeable and constantly moving air element and vata dosha. Increased air element or vata can otherwise manifest as constipation, headaches, joint pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, dry skin and restlessness.
Enjoy warm nourishing foods. Cold salads are for hot summers so substitute with soups, dahls, stews and casseroles.
Add ghee and oils to avoid the dryness and roughness associated with vata. Ginger is an amazing herb, which can be added to aid digestion and is also slightly warming.
Drink hot drinks with warming herbs like the 'yogic teas' containing nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon. Wear a hat and cover your ears. Your mum was right! The wind element goes right to your head and your ears associated with vata. I think we have all experienced slight headaches after being out in windy weather.
Stay in touch with your physical body by practising Abhyanga. Abhyanga is oil massage. Warm up some organic sesame oil and massage it with tenderness and love onto your body. Pay attention to your feet as they are what connects you to the earth. Oil is opposite of dry, light and rough - of Vata.
So fully enjoy your self massage knowing that you will not only have beautiful soft skin but also increase your health. You can wash off the oil in a warm bath or shower after a little while. This is a daily practise when possible!
Having a routine is one of the best way of balancing vata dosha. Waking up and going to bed at similar times, eating (when hungry) at specific times, regular bowel movements (ayurveda is very concerned with digestion!), and, please, also add regular time for you to practise a bit of yoga and breathing or meditation.
When our external world is changing it will influence not only our physical body but also our mind and emotions. Whether it is the change in the seasons, our work, relationships, living environment etc. it easily creates an unbalanced mind, stress and anxiety.
Stay balanced by practising breath awareness, maybe through yoga, and meditation.
Stay with the flow
In a comfortable seat place your hands on your abdomen and simple imagine you can breathe into your hands. Allowing your abdomen to rise on an inhale and release on the exhale. Simply feel the warmth and comfort of your hands resting on your abdomen.
You might even feel the breath rise: expanding first your abdomen, then the side ribs and all the way to the top of your chest. For a few moments just enjoy the rise and ebb of your breath - going with your flow.