It is officially fall, which means that Vata season is upon us! Ayurveda - yoga's sister science teaches us how to live within the laws and rhythms of nature. What we see happening around us in our environment is also happening inside our minds and bodies. Vata represents the elements of air and space, and is characterized by irregularity, motion, and restlessness - which we will soon notice in both the fall breeze as well as in our bodes. After all, we are a microcosm of nature!
How to cope? Number one rule of thumb: keep yourself grounded and keep a regular routine and schedule. Try not to skip meals or neglect breakfast. The key qualities to pacify Vata are warm, heavy, moistening, nourishing, and grounding. Fall aggravates Vata, so it is important to incorporate warming, nourishing foods and remedies. Vata aggravating foods, aka light, cold and dry, are to be avoided. Being mindful of this now will help us avoid illness and other issues as the fall progresses. Here are some more lifestyle tips and guidelines to ensure a smooth transition into fall.
- Healthy fats. Ghee is every Vata's best friend, especially during windy and cool Vata season. Consume as many healthy fats as possible. This can include: raw milk, olive oil, nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts), seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), avocado, and of course the golden elixir of life, ghee.
- Warm, cooked and heavy foods. Stick to warm and easily digestible meals such as stews, soups, basmati or brown or wild rice, dahl, and cooked root vegetables.
- Hot, nourishing beverages. Spiced teas such as ginger, licorice, and cinnamon are balancing for light and airy Vata. To make a wonderful turmeric milk: melt 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1/2 teaspoon of cardamon powder in one cup of warm milk, on the stove. When the spices have assimilated into the milk, add 1 tsp of raw honey. This delicious beverage helps with immunity and calms the nerves. It will also help with sound sleep.
- Spices. These exotic Ayurvedic spices not only taste amazing, they are also energetically warming and grounding - and Vata-pacifying. Additionally, they help with digestion, which Vata may struggle with. Try: turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, black pepper, or saffron.
- Broths. Sip on homemade vegetable broth, chicken broth, bone broth, as the weather cools. It is also a good idea to drink warm water throughout the day.
- Raw foods and salads. These are difficult to digest in Vata season, and will unbalance you during this time. Summer (Pitta season) is the best time to eat raw vegetables.
- Bitter, astringent and pungent foods. Indulge instead in sweet, salty and sour tastes, which will balance Vata.
- Leftovers, raw foods, canned foods, processed foods - these will aggravate Vata. Eating fresh, homemade, sattvic meals is best for Vata types.
- Coffee and caffeinated tea. Especially for Vata-dominant types, these are too stimulating. Consume in moderation.
- Dry snack foods. This includes chips, popcorn, crackers, and dry, cold cereal.
Above all, take some time for self-care this Vata season by anointing your body with oil. In Sanskrit, the word sneha means both "oil" and "love". This speaks volumes. Applying oil to the body is grounding and relaxing, and provides stability and warmth. It is important to nourish yourself daily with oil, and it also serves a vital role in the cleansing process. Oil helps mobilize toxins from the tissues while also calming the nervous system so that the body can move from stress-fighting functions to rejuvenating functions. When the nervous system is at rest, the cells can repair themselves, bringing healing to the body and mind. Massage the body with organic oil after showering. During Vata season, choose organic mustard seed, sesame seed, castor, or avocado oil.