The autumnal equinox, better known as fall or autumn, denotes a point in the year where day and night become equal again. After the autumnal equinox, the days progressively become shorter than night and nature begins to move inward and downward in anticipation of the cold months ahead during winter. Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, recognizes the need to take note of these special points in the year, as it suggests making changes in lifestyle and diet that work with and not against these inherent changes. As such, there are three doshas within Ayurvedic medicine that correspond to the seasons and the traits that coincide with each.
Although most of us are born with a predominant dosha or constitution, all three doshas (kapha, pitta, vata) exist in all of us. Ayurveda believes that humans are an extension of nature; no different from plants and wildlife. Furthermore, this ancient science believes that when we remove ourselves from nature and it’s rhythms, we will experience disease.
Just as different elements exist in each of the doshas, each dosha will have a corresponding season. Vata is made up of the elements air and space (or ether). The attributes of vata are, therefore, airy, variable, mobile, dry, cool, rough, clear and light. As we have just entered into the season of autumn, the qualities that this season brings are in concordance with vata dosha: the air is crisp and clear and the wind has a rough, dry and variable quality. Ayurveda tells us that like increases like. So, if we have a vata constitution or have a vata imbalance, entering into the autumn season might bring about an increase in these qualities, causing physical, psychological and emotional distress if left unchecked.
Autumn is also a season of transition; leaves begin to fall off the trees, the ground becomes hardened and temperatures drop, all in preparation for winter. Hence, this season is a time for all of us – no matter the dosha – to practice simplification, connect with what our soul yearns for, to ground, and to connect with our prana. Listed below are a few practices that will assist those who are a vata constitution or have a vata imbalance or for anyone wishing to connect more with the rhythms of nature.
A daily routine or dinacharya is one of the hallmarks of Ayurveda. A dinacharya is especially important for a vata dosha or a vata imbalance because of the airy quality that is inherent in this dosha. A daily routine is very grounding and nourishing to the body and mind. One of the most effective practices to include in a daily routine is to establish times for activities as close to the same time as possible (waking, eating, exercising, meditating, sleeping, etc.). This helps the body to dip down into the rest and digest part of the nervous system, which is very important for vata.
Because autumn is on the cooler side, warming up oil for self-massage or abhyanga will further ground and balance vata. Sesame oil tends to be on the warmer side by nature, so you may use plain sesame or use an oil blend infused with herbs made specifically for vata. We sell these blends in the Temecula Yoga Collective boutique.
It’s important to note that even day-to-day activities can aggravate vata: fast driving, intense music, loud noises, excessive sexual activity and cold wind/drafts. Minimizing exposure to these things can help keep vata grounded and connected.