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Kick Fall’s Butt with Ayurveda

by Renee Downing, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Did you notice it yet?

Green is starting to turn red, pink, orange and yellow. Temperature and humidity is dropping. The air is crisp and refreshing. Chipmunks are going into holes with fat cheeks and coming back out with skinny faces. Summer lovers are crying, and winter lovers are starting to smile again.

Vata season is here!

Vata is the Ayurvedic dosha that we experience the most in the Fall.

Whether your constitution is high Vata or not, you may have been feeling some of the symptoms of increased vata dosha: dry skin, hair and nails, indigestion, constipation, spaciness, dizziness, itchy skin, stiff, popping joints, sensitivity to cold and wind, decreased immune function, nervousness, restlessness, fatigue and insomnia, to name a few. If you live with a chronic pain condition, this may be the time of year you notice an increase in that pain.

Fall is vata season. Those with a high pitta constitution rejoice at the decreased heat and humidity while those with a high vata constitution curse at the wind. Kaphas might already be hibernating!

Here are some tried and true Ayurvedic tips to ward off the uncomfortable symptoms mentioned above.

1.       Warmth. Staying warm is so very important when it comes to preventing the discomfort that comes from out of balance vata. Dress warm if you are cold. Eat warm, cooked, seasonal foods like squash, asparagus, zucchini, carrots and sweet potatoes. Cooked oats and brown rice are great grains for vata. Most legumes should be avoided when possible, however mung dhal beans are tolerable by most vata types. Drink warm liquids. Teas that are great for vata include, but are not limited to, chamomile, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, lavender, licorice, peppermint and rose hips.

2.       Oil- Oil is also incredibly helpful for balancing vata. It can be used internally or externally. Oil massage is very commonly prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors for those suffering from out of balance vata. Add sesame, sunflower or almond oil to your cooking. Coconut oil is also adequate. Avoid corn oil. Massaging the soles of the feet with oil at bedtime is a great way to induce restful sleep.

3.       Sweet- Sweet also balances vata. This does not imply that you should go out and buy a dozen donuts. Most fruit is naturally sweet. Some fruits that vata does well with include avocado, bananas, berries, coconut, dates, kiwi, mango, melons, oranges, peaches and plums.

4.       Rest- Vata is the dosha that is the least likely to want to rest. However, it is the dosha that needs it more than anything. Practice gentle asana, or if intense asana is more your style, move into the poses more slowly, and with focus. Meditation is also an amazing way to rest the body and brain while at the same reenergizing them. Vatas have racing minds, difficulty focusing, and overactive nerves. Chronic pain is also usually a vata condition. Meditation helps to improve focus, organize thoughts, calm the nerves, and in turn lower pain. I cannot emphasize enough how important meditation is for managing vata.

Every human being, regardless of his or her natural constitution, can be healed and nurtured dramatically by nature. Get outside and breathe the fresh air. Touch the plants that you are not allergic to. Listen to the sounds of the critters that are active preparing themselves in their own way for vata season, soon to be followed by kapha (yummy Winter!)

If you want to learn more about Ayurveda, I will be giving a 2-day, 12 hour presentation on the ancient science of life September 14 and 15. All are welcome to attend, and no prior knowledge of Ayurveda is required. Details here

Now if you will excuse me, this grateful pitta is going to go back outside to frolic in the beautiful, finally tolerable Fall air.