Ahhh the vata season. Such a lovely transition from pitta’s hot intensity: summer. Things begin to cool, the wind picks up and the days become shorter.
We know what happens to our weather when these months come around, but how do our bodies react to the change and how should we, as the drivers, give our bodies what they need this autumn season?
Well, that’s a good question. And I’m glad you asked.
With help from the guidelines and routines of Ayurveda, a science of life designed to help us stay vital and balanced throughout the year (like the sister science of yoga) we can most certainly achieve a productive union of our mind, body, spirit and environment.
And what better place to start than with our diet.
What to Eat This Season
Because of how dry the air is going to become, you’ll want to feed your body nutrient-dense, warming and well-cooked fresh foods. You want to maintain the moisture in your body through stews, cooked grains, soups and steamed or cooked veggies (root vegetables and squashes are favorable). This the best season for mushy, soft foods that you’ll want to finish of with some sort of cold pressed oil.
What you’re doing by ingesting these types of foods is eliminating the dryness within your body, combating the weather outside, so it doesn’t unhinge your internal behaviour. You’re applying the Ayurvedic principle that opposite actions create balance, by warming, softening and moisturizing.
Spices that warm the body like ginger, cinnamon and black pepper are also good for us during this season, and you’ll want to avoid drinking iced beverages and especially coffee.
Banyan Botanicals has an incredible list of ideal vata foods that you can find here.
How to Feed Your Mind
It’s not just our bodies going through a change, our minds suffer, too.
We all know that as the days get colder and shorter, we too, may tend to get colder and shorter with ourselves. The spawn of depression and anxiety accompanies this change as things start to weaken around us and leaves fall off the once vital trees. You may feel lonely, fearful of commitment, insecure or confused, but it’s important to realize these changes, and work with your body and mind to hush those feelings and bring about greater ones.
This type of vata imbalance tells us we need routine. When we find ourselves feeling these ways, we are starving for consistency. The changing around us fills us with this insatiable thirst for sadness, but by maintaining a routine: getting enough sleep, eating three meals a day regularly, rising early, massaging your skin and strengthening our bodies through fluid activities like yoga and walking, we can defeat the vata blues.
Also try spending quiet time in nature as much as possible. It’s important to stay connected with the earth during this season, as it will bring about presentness and relaxation. Covering your body in warm clothing coloured with reds, yellows and oranges, will help you feel more relaxed and comforted as well.
Why Follow These Guidelines?
The benefits of living an Ayurvedic lifestyle are tied to ancient practices far back in the mid-second millennium BCE: a long, long time ago. Used to heal illness and cure disease, this practice incorporated the elements (earth, fire, wind, space and air) to treat imbalances in the body and mind.
Not only is Ayurveda great for helping cure disease though, but it suggests changes in sleeping habits and daily activities that make you healthier and increase longevity. Followers of Ayurveda experience little to no stress compared to the average person, have a greater sense of the meaning of life, react better to seasonal affective disorder (like one you may be experiencing soon) and aid your overall health.
As always, practice on.
(Want to learn more about how to apply Ayurveda to your life? Check out my 12 week guide! The world’s first Ayurvedic 12 week guide for women.)