As the nights get colder and longer there is a natural tendency to get cozy and snuggle in for a long winter nap. Late autumn comes along with a melancholy mood and a time for introspection and withdrawal. Ayurveda, an alternative medical system that originates in India, states that this season is ruled by the Vata Dosha. A dosha is one of three bodily elements that makes up a person’s constitution. Vata season is associated with the same qualities as late fall including movement and cold, dry wind. Movement is the main function of Vata in the body and without it, things slow down. Symptoms of an out of balance Vata Dosha include chapped skin and lips, digestive problems, anxiety, fear and a scattered mind. When in balance, Vata is energetic, flexible and creative.
It is important to keep your body in balance this time of year to maintain a strong immune system through cold and flu season. Vata is cold, dry, irregular and always moving. The way to bring it into balance is to focus on warmth, consistency and stability.
Nourish your body with a Vata balancing diet consisting of foods that are oily, warming and heavy to counter the dry and cooling effects of Vata. Drink lots of liquid such as warm milk, ginger tea, bone broth and miso soup. Cooked soups and stews featuring root vegetables such as carrots, beets and sweet potatoes help to pacify an overactive Vata. Focus on sweet and salty tastes like banana, avocado, mango, sesame seeds, nuts and clarified butter. Our appetites tend to be stronger in the cooler months and these foods are beneficial in grounding Vata. Practice gratitude and sacred eating by giving thanks and enjoying what is in front of you.
Vata thrives on regular routine and consistency. Resist the urge to overbook this season and focus on slowing down. Stay warm by keeping your head and neck covered and avoid drafts, fans and ventilators. Have a massage using oils such as sesame or almond. Try rubbing a drop of this oil in your nasal passages which tend to become dry in the winter.
Rest is vital to to balance the overactive Vata mind. Plan time for both rest and relaxation. Get enough sleep by going to bed early. Use your down time to take a nap, read a book or relax with friends and family. Listen to soothing and calming music. Meditation helps to maintain focus and stay centered.
Practice light exercise that enhances balance and flexibility. Yoga, pilates, walking and dancing are all excellent ways to stretch out and warm the muscles. Follow with a hot shower or bath to stay toasty. Daily practice will help you feel more energized and grounded throughout the holiday season and the months to come.