As we navigate the season of Autumn, Yoga and Ayurveda can provide simple ways to support your physical, mental and emotional health as we transition into the next season.
The qualities of Autumn
Summer is a time of heat and movement with long days filled with extra activities and busy schedules. Autumn on the other hand is a cooler, quieter time with the days beginning to shorten as we start to slow down and prepare for winter. Yoga and Ayurveda encourage us to work with the shifting seasons, as opposed to against them.
Autumn is Vata season. In Yoga and Ayurveda (which is the sister science to yoga, also known as the science of life) the elements of earth, water, fire, air and space can be found all around us in our external environment as well as present within our physical bodies.
The elements of air and space combine to create the Vata constitution within the body, and when it comes to the seasons, Autumn is the time when these elements are also increased in our external environment too – lots of wind, dryness, crackling leaves. Do you notice that this time of year is when these qualities are more present within your body? Dryer skin, cracking or stiff joints, an increase in aches and pains and perhaps a scattered distracted feeling within the mind?
Support your digestive system
Now is the time to gently begin moving away from the cooling foods and drinks we tend to favour during the summer months. Eat less iced or cold food or drinks, and avoid dry, airy foods such as crackers or popcorn.
- During Autumn try more grounding, warm and easy-to-digest foods.
- Focus on mushy, warm, and savoury porridges for breakfast with plenty of grounding root vegetables, such as the Kitchari pictured. Kitchari is an ayurvedic dish using split or whole mung beans, rice and lots of spices. We chuck in whatever season vegetables are abundant and usually in Autumn that includes lots of yummy and grounding root veggies.
- Pick steamed greens over salads.
- Incorporate more soups and stews.
- Drink warming digestive teas, such as ginger, cinnamon and cardamom tea.
Focus on routine
Both Autumn and Vata have a variable/mobile quality, think strong winds, unstable weather, and erratic temperatures. The best way to counteract this variability in our environment is to focus on routine in our daily lives.
Think of five rituals you could do every morning and every evening. You don’t have to go fancy and life changing, these might be things you already do – brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue, washing your face, oiling the skin, 3 minutes of belly breathing, etc.
Commit to one week of doing these five things everyday, in the same order, first thing upon waking and last thing before bed. Don’t make it complicated and treat it as a little experiment and see what happens.
A few other suggestions for Autumn
- Include regular nourishing physical practices such as a Satmya Yoga class, walking, swimming or Tai Chi
- Make room in your schedule for rest and relaxation in a quiet setting. It can be as simple as setting a timer on your phone for 3mins when you get home to sit quietly with closed eyes before you move onto other tasks such as the evening meal or working on the computer.
- Avoid loud music, fast driving, over-scheduling, and starting too many new projects.
- Dress warmly when indoors or outside and focus on protecting the neck, ears, and head on windy days.
- Avoid cold draughty environments.
- If you are finding falling asleep difficult or your sleep is broken, try gently massaging your feet just before bed with a little cold pressed, organic sesame oil. (NOTE: Do NOT use toasted sesame oil, this is a completely different oil!). Sesame oil is warming, grounding and soothing for Vata.
As a trained Yoga Therapist as well as a Yoga Teacher, I love using my knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda to navigate the changing seasons and keep healthy. I hope these Autumn tips have been helpful.
This post was first featured on Satmya Yoga