Now that summer is officially over, following the autumn equinox last week, there's that autumnal nip in the breeze and the trees are beginning to turn. Autumn is a season of change and transition, which can bring with it a blustery and sometimes unsettled energy. How can we support ourselves through this transition, to help us feel grounded and settled through this season of change?
Autumn according to Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, yoga's ancient sister science, everything in our world is composed of three different doshas, or energies, each composed of a combination the five elements of space, air, fire, water and earth. Optimum well-being is acheived when these three doshas are in balance.
The period of autumn and early winter is associated with the elements of space and air, known as Vata dosha. This time is characterised by strong winds, cool temperatures and sometimes erratic weather. Vata is the dosha of transformation, signified by the change in season and visibly by the change in colour and eventually the falling of the autumn leaves. These airy, changeable, erratic tendancies of the autumn can cause our Vata dosha to become imbalanced, increasing feeling a lack of groundedness, as though we could be blown away by the autumn winds, and perhaps an unstable, unsettled mental state. According to Ayurveda, to bring ourselves into balance, we apply the theory that "like attracts like, opposite balances". So how can bring our airy, unsettled Vata dosha into balance?
Autumn yoga poses
We can use grounding yoga poses to help balance Vata dosha. The qualities of Vata dosha are dry, light, airy and quick moving. So if we want to balance these quick, airy movements out, we want to focus on slower, grounding, settling movements in our yoga practice. Think longer holds, with smooth warming breath, and bringing awareness to our body's connection with the earth by focusing on the points of contact with the mat.
Try some grounding yoga poses to settle Vata dosha, like child's pose, downward facing dog, malasana (yoga squat), tadasana, warrior 2, or tree pose. Try holding these poses for 10 slow, smooth breaths, and bring your awareness to the points of the body in contact with the mat. Maybe even imagine roots, like those of a tree, extending from these points and rooting you down into the earth.
Diet & lifestyle
Counteract the cooler temperatures with warming, easy to digest foods. Avoid raw or cold foods and drinks. Think soups and stews, roasted vegetables, herbal teas and warming spices like cinammon, ginger, cumin and black pepper. Root vegetables like sweet potatoes will help increase your connection with the earth. Try to eat 3 grouding meals at regular times throughout the day.
Try to create and stick to a daily routine, and schedule in time to rest and be still. Vata dosha is associated with movement and being active, but too much of this can leave us feeling unsettled. Practice more gentle movement, like yin or restorative yoga, and make self-care a priority.
Massage sesame oil into the skin and the soles of the feet. Sesame oil is warming and grounding, and complimentary to excessive Vata dosha.
My autumn yoga classes will be focussing on balancing our Vata dosha, and creating a sense of earthy, grounded connection with ourselves and with nature. If you'd like to join online classes, contact me here.
Or click here for in-person class schedule in Tignes.