According to Ayurveda—the ancient Indian philosophy of life, health and healing—fall is a time when the force of the Vata dosha is the strongest.
Vata translates as wind/air or space. To understand the quality of Vata, consider the quickness and coolness of autumn wind, the drying out quality of fall, the leaves which start to lose their green vitality and juiciness and begin to prepare for a winter of sleep. We can also feel it in swift temperature changes throughout the day—the mornings and nights are cold here while during the middle of the day the sun is strident.
The quickness of these changes can destabilise our physiology say the Ayurvedic sages and doctors, which is why fall is traditionally seen as a time when it is easy for us to get ill. If you think about the onset of winter cold and flu season, it generally begins right now and, in Ayurvedic terms, this happens when we allow the instability and erraticness of Vata to destabilise us.
How can we allay the effects of this season and stay healthy? It’s more simple than you might think.
Since Vata is all about changeability we can counter that with its opposite: routine.
This is a time when we both need to and can detoxify our bodies and minds by following a routine of gentle, sustained exercise such as yoga, healthy, whole foods and a regular sleep schedule. The more routine we can establish, the easier it will be for our bodies and minds to regulate and sustain our immunity as the cooler months arrive. (Plus, if we look after ourselves now, we can enjoy the festive season so much more.)
As the liver has been working hard for us all year and could do with some extra love, detoxifying the liver is ideal now. This recipe contains three powerful immune superstar herbs that act together to support liver detoxification. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is most active between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. so it’s beneficial to drink this tea before bedtime but, honestly, I love it in the mornings too.
This recipe is adapted from Get it Ripe, a wonderful vegan cookbook by Toronto/Montreal based holistic nutritionist Jae Steele. My lovely friend Jen from Centre Luna Yoga in Montreal, shared the book with me and it is definitely one of my kitchen staples. Turmeric, black pepper and ginger were essential ingredients in my grandmother’s, mother’s and any Indian kitchen and this recipe is common in Ayurvedic cuisine.
Turmeric is known as both an anticarcinogen and an antiinflammatory and works closely with black pepper, which stimulates digestion and cleanses the body of excess Kapha dosha (the watery/heaviness that can cause colds and excess mucous in our bodies). Ginger with its pungent kick is wonderful for improving circulation and warming the body and lemons and maple syrup add a delicious lift.
1 tsp grated turmeric root or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp grated ginger root or 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
2 – 3 twists of black pepper (from a pepper mill)
1 1/2 cups filtered water
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp maple syrup or to taste (you can use raw honey also, but be sure to let the tea cool a little bit before adding the honey)
Combine turmeric, ginger, black pepper and water in a saucepan on medium high heat. (If you use turmeric powder, you can also toast the powder on a dry skillet for 30 seconds to a minute and allow it to get toasty and warm before you add it to the pot of water.) Allow the mixture of herbs to simmer for five to 10 minutes; be careful not to boil. Strain and pour into a mug, add lemon juice and maple syrup to taste, stir and enjoy.
Turmeric stains a bright yellow so be careful with your countertops, clothing and dishtowels. I once had a security deposit deducted from a rent check as I left a turmeric stain on a kitchen countertop! In fact, turmeric is also used as a natural dye. If you have a glass saucepan, and a glass mug, use them as the colour won’t stain the glass.
Be sure to use organic ingredients and nonirradiated spices.
Auhor: Insiya Rasiwala-Finn
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Katarina Tavčar