Having a Healthy Autumn – Part 1

  Petals, earth and fire*

 

Welcome to the first in a small series about looking after ourselves in Autumn. Today we will cover the Ayurvedic insight regarding this time of year and how best to approach it. In the following two parts we will look at diet and lifestyle, and herbs respectively.

Autumn is a time of beautiful change and here we will look at simple ways in which to stay at our optimum during this season. In order to help understand what is happening in these months, we will look at some basic Ayurvedic theory regarding the elements and Autumn. With this we will be able to further understand what is happening in the environment and within us, and what symptoms may arise in our bodies, emotions and mind. Then we will cover how to address these changes and also how to prepare for them through simple daily regime, lifestyle, exercise, cleansing and herbs.

 

By observing the processes of Mother Nature we can better understand the processes within us. In Ayurveda there is a law which states that like increases like. The weather is cold, dry and windy in Autumn. The characteristics of vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. It is a time when vata naturally predominates as the characteristics of vata are much like those of the Wind or Autumn – dry, cold, windy/ mobile, rough.

In Autumn, people may experience drier, tighter, rougher skin. We may feel a little ungrounded, constipated, bloated, anxious or suffer insomnia. Some people feel more lonely at this time, insecure or restless. Our joints may crack more, or we may feel more pain in them. People also report more stiffness in the neck and back area.

 

 

autumn leaves fallenIt is a time of transition, a time personified in many ways by the crisp leaf falling off the tree and being carried on a blustery wind. We are certainly more aware of the wind, of the cold. It unveils a certain emptiness. And this can affect us, sometimes feeling a bit bare and exposed. It can be a tender time. In this letting go into the dark, into the mystery, it can be very nourishing. It is a time of potential, a time where we can naturally reconnect with our source. The Ayurvedic ways can help soothe the mind and nourish the body so that our spirit can reconnect with the inherent deepness that is revealed to us at this time.

As the temperature drops, it is beneficial to protect the body from this heat loss, to refortify tissues and to nourish the skin. With colder temperatures there is less blood flow to skin. Just like with trees who loose their leaves now. The sap goes within and into the roots. This reduced blood flow can leave muscles fatigued. An unctuous and nourishing lifestyle helps smooth muscle tissue without and within so as not to be sluggish. It is also a good time of year to receive massage.

The movement of blood from our extremities to our core increases blood to the inner environment – the heart and brain. It is naturally a time of inspiration, of new ideas. The leaves falling off the trees are actually the bud emerging and pushing off the old leaves! And the beautiful array of colours we see in this time have always been there – it’s the green chlorophyll disappearing with the going of the sun that lets the other ones emerge!

 

last leaves

 

Vata is comprised of Ether and Air. It’s etheric nature can give a sense of space. In this we may feel free or lost. It’s inherent Air element can lead to creativity and imagination or to anxiety and worry. The emotions can be scattered by this windy outer and inner environment. Relaxation rather than over-booked calendar will help one prepare for winter rather than continuing apace with the summer! Simple and regular routine has a deeper balancing effect that an ‘as needed’ approach. It is a good time for re-setting – acknowledging that we’re overly busy, slowing down and restoring. If not, something may come along which could do just that!

 

If you are a vata-dominant person then you are more likely to feel the natural increase in vata during this season. This is good news as all the tips in this series are well suited for you! Vata-dominant people have light, flexible frames, smaller eyes, more irregular teeth. Their veins are usually more visible due to not having the thicker subcutaneous layer that kapha individuals have. They have irregular appetite and thirst and are prone to digestive and malabsorption problems and can have dry skin, hair, lips and colon. They have light scanty sleep, and cold hands and feet. Vata individuals are easily excited, and may act quickly without thinking. They can be very creative, have good imagination, and also a tendency to change.

 

The quality of being mobile is quite unique to vata and it is capable of aggravating the other two doshas. Often in the Ayurvedic approach we pacify vata for a lot of people so that it doesn’t help move the aggravated dosha or itself around the body, further complicating the issue at hand.

Here we finish the first part of our series on looking after ourselves in Autumn. In the next part the will look at lifestyle and diet to stay in optimum health.

 

 

autumn swing