According to Ayurveda, sister-science of Yoga, Autumn is a time of Vata when the elements of air and space are dominant. This is a time for drawing the senses inward, when your Yoga practice can be a source of stability, strength and comfort.
Ayurveda believes that each being or thing is a combination of five elements – earth, water, air, fire, space. All of these elements are present within us, but two will be dominant. These dominant elements represent our Dosha, or mind-body type. The three Doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and each has specific characteristics.
- Vata is the Dosha of air and space, concerned with the nervous system, and movement of body and mind. When balanced Vata boosts physical activity, creativity, and expression. When imbalanced Vata causes anxious and uneasy feelings, inability to concentrate, physical bloating and constipation.
- Pitta is the Dosha of fire and water, concerned with digestion, metabolism and body temperature. When balanced Pitta increases courage, willpower, and determination. When imbalanced Pitta creates jealous and angry feelings, resentment, indigestion and excess body heat.
- Kapha is the Dosha of water and earth, concerned with the structures of the body, muscle, bone and connective tissues. When balanced Kapha feels stable, calm and strong. When imbalanced Kapha feels heavy, lethargic and lazy, stubborn and resistant to change.
Autumn is a time of Vata when the elements of air and space are dominant – it often brings unpredictable weather and feelings of impatience and unease
Autumn is a time of Vata when the elements of air and space are dominant. Here in Scotland we have short days, long nights, dark mornings, cold, dry winds, and brittle leaves. It is the time of year when everything feels busy. With the shortened days, and the festive season just around the corner, it feels like there are never enough hours in the day. Tempers are frayed, anxieties amplified, and often there is a general sense of malaise.
This is typical of excess Vata, which may present as altered mood, feelings of impatience, uneasiness, anxiety and nervousness, as doubt, or trouble sleeping. The body may feel bloated and constipated, and sensitive to cold, with pain and stiffness in the joints, or dry eyes and skin and hair.
Fortunately, there are a number of lifestyle changes we can make to help keep Vata in balance. If you are feeling the effects of Autumn in body and mind, try these simple Ayurvedic tips:
Ayurveda offers some simple tips for dealing with Autumn Vata overload!
- Movement – Commit to regular Yoga practice – familiar routine can help to create a sense of inner strength and stability, and provides a grounding influence when feeling anxious or unsure.
- Diet – Switch to warm, cooked foods – think homemade soups, roasted veggies, dried fruits, warming spices like ginger and cinnamon, and herbal teas, while limiting caffeine and cold, raw foods.
- Mindfulness – Take time each day for self-reflection – Sit quietly and focus on your breathing, or follow a guided meditation, and learn how to detach from your thoughts to find a few precious moments of stillness.