In the fall, there is a tendency for each of us to require an extra dose of nourishment—and there is a reason why.
As the cooler weather hits, our bodies have to work harder to create symbiosis with the world we live in.
In traditional Ayurveda (which means “the science of life” in Sanskrit), it is believed that seasons, as well as humans, have a tendency to favour one particular disposition. These dispositions are called Doshas, which are distinct blueprints that make up our constitution and provide guidance for how to keep our selves healthy and happy.
There are three main energetic dispositions (doshas) in Ayurveda that are said to be the building blocks for all things on earth. The three main doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
The Vata dosha is represented by the energy of wind, dryness and roughness, and it is ruled by the fall. When this dosha becomes overabundant (which can occur easily each autumn) it creates a deficiency in us.
With yoga and Ayurveda (the medicine of yoga), we believe that as our outer experience changes, our internal one does too. As our climate becomes cooler, we are submerged in Vata energy from the outside, which then directly affects our body and emotions. To counteract this, it becomes important to increase our consumption of nourishment-building foods—or as they are called in Sanskrit, Ojas (vigor) foods.
The philosophy in yoga is that we are always looking to create balance, so we must find ways to satiate the Vata energy with appropriate choices now.
If we can attend to our bodies changing needs in accordance with the fall, we will keep our immune system primed and our emotional centers aligned to better avoid seasonal cold and flu.
Vata is ruled by the air element, movement and change. This Dosha is my dominant disposition, and when this energy is overabundant in me and my world, I tend to become speedy. I experience weight loss, dryness of scalp and skin and have a tendency for anxiety, worry, insomnia and jumping erratically from task to task.
However, when balanced, Vata energy is highly creative, focused, lithe, smooth-transitioning, flexible and enthusiastic.
To reap Vata’s rewards, and not become overwhelmed by her exuberance, there are a few quick tricks we can do this autumn.
It is important to set up steady patterns of sleep, exercise and relaxation—and to consume certain foods and beverages.
As fall wraps us up in her chilly tendrils, we can quickly counter her coolness by simply choosing warm cooked foods that are slightly rich. Homemade soups and bone broths are perfect at this time of year. Also steamed veggies, baked root vegetables and hearty stews are all things that ground Vata. Adding healthy oils to our warm meals will ensure that they are heavy enough to balance us.
Things to watch out for right now are those convenient, processed snacks and meals. They often increase Vata energy and keep us on the go continuously. Even though cooked food takes more prep, it is important for us to delegate this time in the fall for slowing down.
Porridge with cinnamon, warm milk and apple sauce are a great Vata balancing breakfast. For lunch, soup with an olive oil drizzle and baked or steamed veggies. Dinner is a good time to eat light; Dhal (an East Indian lentil dish) is a fantastic choice with flat bread slathered in ghee, a clarified butter, one of the most Vata-balancing foods.
Here is an extended list of Vata-equalizing foods to ensure our vitality this season:
Ojas (vigour) foods to favour for fall.
Cream of Wheat, porridge, rolled oats, warm milk (almond or dairy), honey, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, dates, sweet cooked or stewed fruits, baked squash, yams, beets, carrots, avocado, zucchini bread, pumpkin loaf or pie, ghee, cooked asparagus, turnips, chicken, seafood and herbal teas. (To make any dish Vata-zapping, just add toasted sesame seeds, cashews or almonds to finish.)
Ojas depleting foods to avoid for fall.
Dried fruit, iced foods/ice cream, raw vegetables and salads, beans, dry cereals, crackers, caffeinated beverages, cold sodas, chilled dairy products, cabbage, sprouts, red meat and overly spicy foods. (We can welcome these foods back into our diet with the arrival of spring!)
Let’s maintain equilibrium with a little yogic wisdom, by understanding that our internal landscape is affected by whats going on outside, and that we can relieve it by choosing wisely what we take in this fall.
So enjoy some deep breaths, find a moment to slow down, play some peaceful tunes and put some homemade stock on the stove. Heat up a cup of warm almond milk, and look out at the changing landscape before us. Embrace this beautiful season of wind and change by finding balance right now. Our immune systems and emotions will send us a deep bow in response.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Twitter @ayushherbs
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina