Rather than winter, spring, summer and autumn, Ayurveda divides the year into three seasons: vata season, which goes from late autumn into early winter; kapha season, from the coldest, darkest part of winter into spring; and pitta season, the hottest time of year from late spring to early autumn. Ayurveda considers a seasonal routine an important cornerstone of health, year around. Balancing the nature of your local climate with lifestyle choices that offset the potential for seasonally-induced imbalances is one of the simplest ways that you can protect your well-being.
The rainy and windy Vata season is fast approaching and you can prepare now! As we transition from autumn to winter, it’s dry, cold, windy, rough, light and erratic — qualities associated with the elements ether and air, and characteristics of vata (hence vata season). When too much Vata accumulates in the body and mind, the imbalance may manifest as physical or emotional disorders, including insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.
If we consider the Ayurvedic principle that opposites balance, vata season will be less aggravating if you fill it with warmth, oiliness, deep nourishment, loving relationships, and a sense of stability, routine, and groundedness.
Here are some practical ideas to keep you grounded and vibrant during the cold months ahead:
Sleep and Restful Awareness
As the days grow darker and darker, it’s a time of year to really restore the body. One of the biggest things in the winter months is taking advantage of the darker days and getting some really good sleep. Good rest is vital to balance.
It’s also a building time of year, whereas spring and summer are a lightening time of year when we’re naturally more active and eating less. Vata season is supportive for gaining strength and building mass. So make sure to properly warm up; bodies become cold, tight, sore and more constricted. Things like hot yoga, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools and hot tubs are ideal for vata season.
Also it’s important to make sure that your home and work place are well heated and that the air has enough humidity. Since Vata is extremely sensitive to moving air, it’s wise to avoid drafts or sitting near fans or ventilators.
Another important thing to do is using oil on your body, so get a high quality self-massage oil like sesame oil (not toasted!) or almond oil to use and massage your body for like five minutes a day. It’ll moisturize your skin, help alleviate sore muscles and tight tendons, and it’s grounding for the nervous system.
Follow a Vata-pacifying Diet:
Your diet is a powerful way to soothe vata this autumn. Substantive, oily, nourishing foods that are high in protein, high in fat, brought to life with warming, stimulating spices, and served hot, will go a long way toward maintaining your internal reserves of moisture and keeping you grounded through the vata season.
Drink lots of warming liquids such as hot water and herbal teas to prevent dehydration. You can prepare a fresh ginger tea by placing a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger into a pint thermos bottle and filling it with hot water.
You may find that, during the course of the autumn, you’ll naturally want to increase your intake of food, but be careful to follow the lead of your appetite and digestion. This is also a great time of year to do a monodiet type of cleanse. Vata requires adequate nourishment so it is best to avoid fasting.
Establish regularity and routine
Vata thrives on regularity and routine. This includes getting up and going to bed at about the same time every morning and evening; eating meals on a predictable schedule rather than “grazing” or skipping meals or eating on the run; and planning time each day for exercise, rest, and relaxation. As you create a daily balancing routine that nourishes your mind, body, and spirit, you will find yourself feeling more energized and centered in the months to come.
Get outside & exercise
Finally, even if it’s cold, you still need to get outside, especially if you tend to experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Make sure you have the right clothing for your climate so that you can walk outside, breathe fresh air and be in nature from time to time during the darker, colder months of autumn and winter.
Vata is very easily aggravated by fast, mobile activities, so consider slow, gentle, strengthening forms of exercise instead. Walking, hiking, swimming, biking, yoga, and tai chi are good choices, provided they are done at an appropriate level of intensity. Ideally, exercise at about fifty to seventy percent of your capacity, breathing through your nose the entire time. And remember to balance your activity with adequate relaxation and sleep so that your tissues can rejuvenate properly.
Last but not least, if it’s hard to wake up in the morning when it’s dark out, try a mug of warm lemon water or a spritz of rose water on your face first thing — both are natural, vibrant ways to wake up your senses during vata season!
Good luck, staying healthy this season!!
Writen by Our SISter Femke