I have been the staff writer for YogaWorks Teacher Training Department for the last several years. This was my recently published article as “YogaWorks” for Yoganonymous.
As we enter the Fall season, it is important to understand how this seasonal change affects our body-mind.
As we learn in our Yoga practice, Prakriti, or Nature, is a mirror for us to understand our greater Selves.
Looking toward nature, Autumn is Vata season in Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga. The Vata dosha is characterized by words such as cool, light, dry, mobile, changeable, rough, and airy. We witness these changes in nature – leaves changing color, cooler air, dry leaves falling from trees, wind picking things up and swishing them around.
For the body-mind we see a similar transition. The elements of the Vata dosha are air and space. For people who have this dosha, like me (and many yoga teachers), we may feel spacey, air-headed, forgetful and ungrounded. When our Vata is really out of balance we can feel worried, anxious, and overwhelmed. We may experience nervousness, fear, restlessness and light sleep.
There are also wonderful gifts that this season brings and a balanced Vata can experience. In order to receive these benefits, Vata dosha types need tools to get balanced, connected and present. When Vata people are in balance, they can be flexible, creative, joyful, and excitable. They love to embark in new ventures. This is a great time for visioning, change, transition and movement. Here are some ways to get grounded and balanced to enjoy the Fall season to its fullest!
Grounding practices for Body-Mind-Spirit:
1. Meditation – Create environments for yourself that are less sensory and more nurturing. Being in nature is very helpful to calm the mind and nervous system. Meditation can create spaciousness and harmony.
2. Yoga – Some yoga poses are very grounding such as forward folds, or standing poses that focus on the legs and feet. Practice longer holds with longer exhales. Also, practice longer cool downs during this season, adding shoulder stand and restoratives to balance the nervous system.
3. Breathwork–Practice the breathing technique called Nadi Shodana or Alternate Nostril Breathing for balancing both hemispheres of the brain. And, use extended exhales which can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and balance restlessness.
4. Warm Seasonal Foods/Drinks – The body gravitates toward warm, cooked, earthy foods and warmer teas/drinks. Fall colors come from nature’s trees and foods. These foods contain the nutrients we need to support the body’s immune system during this season. We consume root vegetables like turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and greens. In Ayurveda, ghee, or clarified butter, is recommended to use in cooking for its healthy fat and oils.
5. Oils – Keeping the skin moist is important during this dry season. It’s recommended to use sesame and almond oil after a warm shower. Some people will oil up before their shower and follow up with a hot shower and rinse in cold water stimulating the lymphatic system.
6. Journal – Spend quiet time with yourself to journal, get organized and move ideas out of the head and onto paper. This can help you keep the mind focused and productive for 2015.
7. Create/Learn New Things – Get creative and embark on new projects. This is a great time of year to experience change, vision and experience that transformational energy. It’s back to school time. There is a sense of momentum that is great for learning new things.
These are just some tools that can help you during this transitional season. Enjoy the momentum of this creative season, nurture yourself and create some visions for yourself that you can take into the New Year.