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Staying healthy this Autumn with Ayurveda

September 8, 2017

imagesAutumn a predominantly a cool season when Vata dosha dominates inside and outside our bodies.  This time of transition sees many people succumbing to seasonal coughs, colds and flu.

Vata dosha has cold, light, dry, rough, and moving qualities. It’s main site is the colon, hence bloating, constipation and gas are often early signs of aggravation. Other signs include dry skin, irregular appetite, lack of sleep, stress, anxiety and tiredness.  Waking up between 2am and 6am is also an indicator Vata is out of balance. Its important to balance this dosha all year round, especially if it is your dominant dosha. However, we all need to pay attention to Vata in Autumn by inviting in the balancing factors of warmth, grounding, nourishment and stillness.

Here are some tips to stay balanced during Autumn:

  1. Reduce raw and cold foods and focus on a warming, nourishing diet, rich in oils and ghee, with spices such as ginger and cumin. Have a warm breakfast (porridge, poached eggs, stewed apple, quinoa pancakes), followed by soups, stews, risotto, kitchari (one pot rice and dhal meal, mung soup- see Recipes) and lots of warm herbal teas (Tulsi and Ginger are ideal to ward of respiratory infections).  End the day with warm milk with ginger, nutmeg and a little honey to help you drift off. Vata is increased by astringent, bitter and pungent flavours so avoid excess of these tastes such as raw food, dry muesli, chick peas, peas, pop corn, caffeine and sandwiches. Minimise all dry, rough, cold food as well as iced drinks.
  2. Keep to regular meal times with lunch as your main meal, and a smaller dinner eaten as early as possible. Try to get up and go to sleep at regular times as well. Also, this is a good time to introduce regularity at your work place by having regular breaks, sipping herbal teas throughout the day and not working yourself too hard. Routine really helps!
  3. Take extra care of your skin due to Vata’s drying nature. Ground yourself with a self-massage with a warm sesame oil self-massage. Ayurveda recommends this daily, but its hard to manage today so aim for twice weekly to start.  See here for more on massage tips. You can also treat the skin on your face with a home made ubtan and mask made from kitchen staples.
  4. Increase stillness in your day and time to connect with yourself.  Vata is aggravated by feelings of fear and insecurity so take time to look after yourself.  It is also aggravated by excess movement. Anything which reduces the amount of rushing, travelling and business that is part of most of our lives is good eg: go for a walk, practice calming yoga or yoga nidra, meditate, write in a journal, cook a slow recipe, curl up with a favourite book…
  5. I‘ve also written an earlier post on tailoring your yoga practice for Autumn which may be of interest. Enjoy!