Autumn

Autumn is governed by vata, the elements of air and space.

AUTUMN is vata season.

Autumn is governed by vata, the elements of air and space. We see this in the airy, light and dry nature of dehydration that occurs at the end of summer, when nature is parched from months of hot sun.


As the temperatures begin to drop, there’s a change in the air. The qualities of light, dry and cool kick in, both in the external environment and in the body. This aggravates vata dosha, which has been accumulating through the end of summer. Vata is experienced in the body as fear and anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and constipation.

Vata governs the nervous system, body fluids/moisture, and how well we digest our foods, and so these things can easily become disturbed. The need for a deeper focus on nourishing and grounding is eminent. Reduce vata and any symptoms of wind, dryness, and irregular activity. Read on to find out how.

Autumn is marked by the equinox. It’s an energetically-charged time, and a good time to slow down and consider the change in seasons. The autumn equinox is an ideal time to undertake our twice-yearly cleanse. It’s a good opportunity to clear out excess heat and prepare the body for building winter insulation. Just as in spring, a 7-14 day Kitchari cleanse will serve you and your body well at this time. If even 7 days is too much, begin with 3 days…you’ll still feel the benefits.

Sweet, sour and salty tastes should feature heavily, with the predominant qualities of warming, grounding, and slightly oily.


The cooler temperatures see the blood heading back to the core. We experience this as an increased appetite after months of feeling satisfied by less food. Be careful not to overeat, however!

You might find yourself hankering for heavy starches like bread or buttery mashed potato. All root vegetables in fact, are perfect for their grounding nature this time of year, as well as pumpkins and grounding grains such as wheat, quinoa and brown rice.

Avoid too much raw food, salads, cold drinks, beans, fermented foods and yeast as they are potentially gas-producing and may aggravate digestion.

Nourish and ground with warm, mildly spiced, and easy to digest foods.

Now is the time to rid the body of any last signs of residual heat before the temperatures plummet. An invaluable food for this time of year that will help to do just this, are beets.

Beets stimulate the liver and gallbladder, thereby encouraging bile flow. Bile has a laxative effect which helps to ensure a complete bowel movement. Hence, the cleansing action of beetroot on the digestive tract. Being a root vegetable, they also have a grounding effect.

If you eat dairy, the end of autumn and into early winter is the time to enjoy a wider range of dairy products, if you digest them well. Take cow’s, goat’s or almond milk warmed and spiced. Cream, butter, and cheese will help towards building your winter layer. Cultured dairy is also a good choice in moderation.

AUTUMN LIFESTYLE GUIDELINES

Wake with the sun.

Self-massage with warming sesame oil to balance the tendency of dry skin and stiff, sore joints. Wash off in a warm shower.

Place a drop of oil in each nostril to lubricate. Nasya oil is specific for this practice, otherwise sesame oil is fine.

Take advantage of the increased air element and practice pranayama at least once daily, consciously drawing prana into the tissues and cells.

Practice grounding, relaxing, and opening yoga postures, in a slow manner. Good choices include inversions, twists, and slow sun salutations matching each movement with one full inhalation/exhalation. Finish with plenty of savasana to ground the energy.

An ideal breakfast would be a bowel of oats, quinoa, or rice, with maple syrup and cinnamon.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a fantastic herbal remedy for grounding and strengthening in the lead up to winter, as is chywanaprash.

Lunch and dinner should consist of soups, kitchari, and steamed vegetables.

To keep the bowels open, take organic triphala each night. Triphala gently detoxifies the body and rejuvenates the digestive tracts. If constipation is an issue, try soaking a teaspoon of triphala overnight as a cold infusion and take first thing in the morning.

Before bed, settle in with a cup of warm milk gently simmered with a pinch of nutmeg and cardamom.