Having a Healthy Autumn – Part 2

Window display of autumn harvest foods

 

 

Welcome to the second part of our series on looking after ourselves in Autumn. With a good understanding of data and this time of year in our first article, here we will cover how to manage data through lifestyle and diet.

 

Balancing Vata

 

Seasonal routine and daily routine are seen as cornerstones of health in Ayurveda. As such it is good to know the pathways to health as well as the pathways that are a detriment to our health and it is up to us to be responsible for both.

We cure in Ayurveda with the opposite qualities. For vata we encourage nourishing, warming, softening, still, oily, heavy qualities. The aim in balancing vata is to improve our digestion and assimilation, calm our nervous system, settle the mind, regulate the inner workings of the body, avoid a wide-range of symptoms of ill-health and disease and live a long and healthy life.

 

Daily Regime

 

It is an investment in our health and vitality. One of the best ways to support vata is to be regular – do things at the same times each day.

  • Go to sleep before 10 and wake early – while there is the peace and quietness of this special time of transition. It is good to rise before the sun – it is a time full of magic.

  • Brush teeth with licorice/ mint based toothpaste.

  • Oil pulling – removes toxins, nourishes teeth and gums, strengthening the teeth and preventing receding gums, freshens the breath and soothes and stimulates the sense organs and mind. It has profound and systemic influence on body; circulatory system, skeletal system and nervous system.

    After having brushed the teeth, take approximately a tablespoon of organic, cold-pressed sesame oil in the mouth and swill it around/ hold it for a few minutes. Then spit it out and massage the gums.

  • Abyhanga (Oil massage)

    Abyhanga revitalises the tissues, cleans the body, protects us from old age and is one of the best remedies for pacifying vata. It moves excess doshas back into the digestive tract so that they can leave the body, enhances tissue growth and promotes strength, relaxation and sound sleep. It aids in healthy joints and ligaments, and in nourishing the nerves.

    Have a towel or mat for this purpose. In a heated room warm up some organic, cold-pressed sesame oil and apply to the whole body. One can start feet up or head down. Rub in the oil so that it goes beyond the superficial fascia and aim to leave on for 20 minutes. In that time one can massage themselves, practice some yoga, meditate etc. After, wash off in a warm shower.

     Snigdha – the quality of oiliness, unctuosity is seen as one of the qualities of love in sanskrit.

  • Nasya – placing a drop of sesame oil in each nostril and massaging the inner walls of the nose helps clear the mind, awakens the senses, helps with good vision, protects and nourishes the beginning of the respiratory tract and increases our sense of smell.

  • Yoga

    shiva lingam

    In looking after our health there is a lot of focus on what we eat. This is great, but should be balanced with a consciousness and responsibility to the other side – to what we do!

    Exercise – it is such a simple way to look after our health and one that is not practiced enough. It helps tremendously with how we feel about ourselves too.

    Vata is aggravated by fast, mobile activities. So calming, tranquil and slow exercise is great for balancing vata. Walking, gardening, swimming, tai chi and yoga are perfect. Ayurveda also recommends exercising to 50% of our capacity. This awakens us without straining us.

    It is a time when there is a predominance of Air element and also of prana which is the subtle essence of Air – the breath of Life. Due to the copious prana in the atmosphere at this time of year one can start with alternate nostril breathing. It purifies the channels that of the mind and energy body and has a very beneficial effect on vata. Please ask a yoga teacher to show you this beautiful pranayama.

    Asana (Postures)

    -slow, steady pace

    -deep, continuous breathing

    -ground feet and hands on mat

    -joint-rotation exercises (pawanmuktasana) are good for removing vata from the joints.

    -sun salutations (surya namaskar), to be done slowly with deep breathing

    -corpse pose (sarvasana) frequently, for grounding

    -heavenly stretch (tadasana) moves vata throughout the system

    -camel pose (ushtrasana), cobra (bhujangasana) and cat (marjarasana) help open out the contraction in the abdomen and spine

      -spinal twists are good for regulating vata in nervous system

      -moon pose (shashankasana), child’s pose (balasana) and thunderbolt pose (vajrasana) ground vata

      -inverted poses like shoulder-stand (sarvangasana) and headstand (shirshasana) regulate the upward movement of vata.

      For help with these postures please ask a yoga teacher to help make sure you are practicing them well.

 

  • Scent – Wear grounding oils like Vetiver, Spikenard, Patchouli, Ouds and uplifting oils like Geranium and Citrus.

  • Clothing – wear clothing that is soft and warm and protect yourself from cold winds, especially the ears, head and neck. The appropriate colours for this time of year are red, orange, yellow, bit of white. They strengthen the auric field. 

  • Breakfast -rice/ quinoa/ wheat/ oat/ porridge with cinnamon, anise, clove.

    (8am-ish) -stewed apple with spices and ghee

    -chyawanaprash or other medicines

  • Lunch -kicharee, soup, steamed veg, basmati rice and mung dal soup

    (12ish)

  • For extreme cases of vata imbalance it’s ok to take nap after lunch

  • Afternoon schedule – not too busy as this is vata time of day.

  • Dinner -steamed veg, rice with ghee, soups

    (6-7pm)

  • Evening – read, rest and relax.

  • Triphala

  • Hot milk – nourishes reproductive tissues – heat till boils and rises then mix in spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamon, nutmeg. Can start by having it with water.

  • Foot massage before bed

 

pumpkin soup

 

Diet

 

Decrease    -cold food and drinks, ice

                    -salads, raw food, fermented foods

                    -dried foods

                    -yeast products

                    -bitter, pungent and astringent tastes

                    -black tea/coffee/

                    -apples, pears, foods from the brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), raw veg, aubergine, kale, white potatoes,                         millet, corn, yeasted bread, dry oats, most beans, crackers

                    -If you do eat some of the grains, beans etc, have them soaked, well cooked, nicely spiced and with ghee.

 

Increase      -mushy, warm, easily digested foods

                     -sweet, sour, salty and mildly spicy foods

                     -root veg, soups, stews, soothing meals, steamed vegetables

                     -warming tea’s – cinnamon, ginger, liquorice, cardamon

                     -calming tea’s – chamomile, or cumin/fennel/coriander

                     -warm cow/ almond milk with cardamon and nutmeg before bed

                     -favour plenty of warm beverages throughout day, sweet fruits, most cooked vegetables, especially root vegetables –                              beetroots, carrots, sweet potatoes, cooked oats, rice, wheat products, mung beans, some red lentils, most dairy products,                          sesame oil, olive oil, ghee, almond milk, fennel, licorice, peppermint, rosehip, most spices, honey.

 

Avoid           -skipping meals/ fasting (too depleting)

                      -excessive snacking

                      -late nights.

 

wild mushroom pie

 

We are naturally drawn in Autumn to roast pumpkin and squash dishes, hearty soups, warming cups of tea. These foods and approaches maintain internal reserves of moisture and help keeping us grounded. Now is a good time for substantive foods and hearty grains, and meat and eggs if you eat them, as well as nuts and seeds.

These are general guidelines. Diet should be adjusted for one’s individual constitution, namely, if there is an imbalance of kapha or pitta the diet should take that into account. It is also a good time to undertake a simple cleanse. More can be read about this in the article on Autumnal Cleansing.

 

In the next and last part of this series we will look at which simple herbs can greatly help us at this time of year.

 

 

samhein