Autumn seems to have come upon us so quickly, perhaps because we had such an unusual and wet summer, it’s come as a bit of a shock to the system. Dark evenings are drawing in at a pace and the temperature has dropped dramatically. Ayurveda believes we should go with the cyclical flow of the seasons and alter our lifestyle accordingly, in order to maintain balance and equilibrium within the body.
Autumnal cold dry windy weather, are qualities which are also manifested in the body with the Vata dosha. As Vata is aggravated during this period, the coldness, dryness and lightness, need to be counterbalanced with warmth, oiliness and grounding to prevent any health problems. Complaints associated with a Vata imbalance during the colder months, include increased restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, aches and pains, either developing or worsening. If the imbalance goes unaddressed, we also lay ourselves open to colds, flu and chest infections during the winter and early spring.
Here are some suggestions for your health and wellbeing over the coming months:
- Have a regular routine – eating at the same time each day without missing any meals and going to bed at a regular time; preferably before 10.30pm. The body loves routine and functions much better with a degree of regularity.
- Eat warming, hearty and nourishing food with soups, lentil dhals and casseroles with root vegetables, butternut squash, pumpkin and squash prepared with a little ghee or clarified butter and plenty of herbs and spices. Don’t worry if you find your appetite increasing and you’re eating more; this is a natural reaction and is the body’s way of building its stores and preparing for the winter. However, do not eat to the point of discomfort as this plays havoc with the whole digestive process.
- Some sweet, sour and salty foods are also helpful.
- Drink warming herbal teas and start the day with fresh ginger and lemon tea. During autumn and winter, it’s really important to avoid iced drinks and ending a meal with a cold dessert like ice-cream as Ayurveda believes warm freshly cooked food is far easier to digest than cold or processed food.
- Take some extra oil on a daily basis, either in food or as a supplement, such as flax seed, evening primrose or sesame seed to prevent dry skin and constipation
- Stewed seasonal fruit, such as plums and apples, with warming spices including ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.
- Avoid cold, raw, dry or bitter foods, such as muesli, crackers, sandwiches, chickpeas, caffeine and bitter leaf salads.
- Ayurvedic massage with sesame oil will counteract the dryness in the body and aid digestion and sleep. Indeed, look after your skin with plenty of moisturiser and a weekly face pack made with mashed avocado or banana as a base with a little yoghurt and honey mixed in. This combo is a great moisturiser for dry skin.
- Enjoy a little alcohol for its warming quality.
- Vata is also upset by excessive stress, overwork and exertion, or lots of traveling. So, it’s very important to add some stillness and quiet downtime as often as you can. Yoga, meditation, Tai-chi, a walk in the country, or a creative hobby are all ways to bring some balance.