The seasons change on Monday, (September 23, 2019) with the Northern Hemisphere moving into autumn and the South emerging from winter to spring. Equinox, literally means “equal night”…. So the days and nights are (approximately) equal in time. This is a time of reflection, of slowing down and of transition.
This time of year, we wind down from summer and transition into Fall. The days become shorter and the rhythm shifts and the light and heat begin to subside. In order to stay in “sync with our environment” (As Ayurvedic traditions encourage us to do) we need to be mindful of the changes in the season, in our bodies and mind and focus on keeping our constitutions (doshas) balanced. Autumn is dominated by the “Vata dosha” (consisting of ether and air elements). It represents the mobile force of the universe and in our bodies, it’s responsible for all activities that involve movement. Thus, locomotion, digestion, circulation, respiration, elimination, communication, sensory and motor function, cardiac function and nervous system impulses are all governed by the Vata. Vata in the mind is responsible for emotions that include enthusiasm, joy, clarity, creativity, fear, worry and anxiety. The Fall season is characterized by cold, windy and dry weather. As our external environment changes, it increases vata in our own internal environment. And if the vata goes out of balance, so do the vata qualities. When the vata dosha is healthy, the qualities of optimal health, stability, creative enthusiasm and excitement for life, are in a balanced state. We use the tools that are available to us in the form of lifestyle changes, dietary, herbal, colors, aromas, and mantras, to keep the vata from getting out of balance as our external environment changes.
A stable routine in encouraged during the fall season; regular exercise, eating, sleeping and waking at the same time, can promote good physical and emotional health during this dry and cold season. Warm, cooked foods; warm drinks, such as hot milk or ginger/cinnamon/basil tea also have an immediate balancing effect on vata. Exercise that promotes warm, steady and gentle movements are best, holding each pose or posture in yoga or Pilates for a short amount of time, but doing multiple repetitions and movements that increase core stability are best. We focus on being grounded and creating stability in the body with our yoga practices and in Pilates that are strengthening, but not draining or depleting of our energies. Practicing ‘Alternate Nostril breathing’, and Ujjayi pranayama can encourage balance by providing warmth and stability in the body and mind. During the fall season and for the overactive vata mind, meditation is one of the best ways to be grounded and find calm and stillness.
Have a great Fall season…. As the leaves start falling… go for walks outside in the Autumn sunlight, enjoy the cool weather and those crunchy leaves on the ground. Namaste’