As we move into Autumn through the blustery winds in full force and the heavens opening it is clear to see the difference in the weather of late compared to a couple of weeks ago.
In Ayurveda terms we have well and truly stepped into Vata season , Autumn/Winter. Vata dosha is a mix of ether and air (light principles).
During the autumnal and Winter months make sure you check in on yourself to become aware of keeping Vata balanced in the body to keep your body and mind in harmony during these colder months.
So what is Vata season and how will it affect me?
The qualities of Vata are cold, dry, rough, movement, elimination, thoughts and stress. If your dosha is predominantly Vata, as many of us are as we age, you may find yourself more susceptible to stress in Autumn and Winter. Vata types tend to be extremely spacey, finding it difficult to feel grounded.
They are aware of the subtle and have a super radar making them highly sensitive during Autumn and Winter. As they feel a lot they may become overwhelmed by their surroundings. They don’t feel great in the cold weather and I for one can completely resonate with that. Im sure I was a bear in my former life as I could definitely hibernate through the colder months.
Autumn and Winter is the time for all doshas to reboot and strengthen the nervous system to keep Vata in balance so remember to be gentle with yourself and don’t over exert yourself.
Vata governs all movement in the body and the mind, nerve impulses, breath etc. When there is excess Vata built up then we see excess coldness, dryness, spasms, restlessness, scattered thinking, all because of too much movement.
On the plus side, being balanced in Vata enables you to be creative and very aware of the subtle. So this is the perfect time to create your new masterpiece. Whereas if you have an imbalance of Vata in the body you may notice any or some of the following: cold hands and feet, intolerance to cold, fatigue, tension headaches, insomnia, constipation, stiff muscles, gassy and bloated, feeling aggravated, worried and anxious.
Also be aware of what you expose yourself to ( I know, easier said than done of late), what you watch on tv, any negativity you surround yourself with, what you eat etc as these all have a huge effect on our stress levels and can actually alter our microbiology in our body and mind and Vata types are particularly sensitive to this.
Where in the body is Vata related to?
All doshas have a location in the body that is influenced by any imbalances and Vata is no different. The seat of Vata is in the colon, in your lower belly. All three doshas seem to have their seat in the gasto intestinal system. This comes as no surprise as the gut is sometimes classed as your second brain (or maybe third if you include the heart, as that amazing organ has a mini brain all of it’s own).
The gut produces 95% of your serotonin which then sends the happy hormones to your brain so it’s really important for your gut to function well in order to get the right amount of chemicals where they need to be. If one of the cogs isn’t firing so to speak then any machine will experience alterations and blockages to the natural flow.
It really does help you understand the saying ‘you are what you eat’ a little more when you take this into account. When you are under a lot of stress it can alter the microbiology in your body and irritate the mind affecting your resilience to stress. So choose foods that are in season. Ayurveda is all about living in line with what nature provides in each season as our bodies are able to digest certain foods easier in particular seasons and not in others.
What to eat during Autumn and Winter
To ensure you can keep Vata balanced in the body, nature provides the antidote to help with any Vata imbalances by harvesting certain foods at this time of year. When you eat, be conscious of how you eat, calmly, seated to keep the nervous system calm.
In Autumn and Winter try opting for more cheeses, breads, nuts, soups, stews and heavier foods as the digestion gets stronger in Autumn and Winter season to enable us to digest heavy foods. Mix proteins, starches and vegetables in one meal if you can.
What are the best yoga poses to balance during Vata season?
Yoga sequences that ground you. Feel your toes connected to the earth. Fix your gaze low and work with energy levels. Hold postures for longer and synchronize the movements with your breath. Focus on balance and the foundation of the pose to create stability. Work with the digestive system with forward and back bends and twists. Slow vinyasa/sun salutations with a soft warm Ujjayi breath, lots of repetition of gentle movement to get the synovial fluid moving in the joints. Lots of postures for the seat of Vata, the lower belly, pelvis, hips, legs, floor postures, hip openers. Poses that move the Vata down into the seat of Vata to restore. Calming poses, restorative, rejuvenating such as yoga nidra to relax every part of your body. Slow, repetitive and grounding meditation work well for Vata in Autumn and Winter.
Hopefully this little guide will help you to stay balanced during these next few months and bring awareness when you may feel out of balance. And of course if you fancy joining me on the mat and working on grounding yourself in my online classes then feel free to get in touch.