Ayurvedic Suggestions for Autumn:
Using the practice of awareness of the five elements, you can simply tell what changes are occurring in nature. You can hear the wind blowing through the trees and along the streets and the crisp sound of leaves underfoot. You can feel the slight drop in temperature, the increase in dryness, the stronger gusts of wind. You can see the changing colors of the earth, the leaves drying on the trees, the branches bending in the wind. You can taste the delicious ripeness of the seasonal berries and fruits and smell the richness of the earth.
Autumn is a time when the Air element (vayu) is predominant; there is more lightness, dryness and coolness. There is also the tendency for ‘the winds of change’ to blow ever more erratically. These qualities in nature have a tendency to aggravate vata which is the dosha primarily associated with the nervous system. Vata also regulates the levels of moisture in the body, how relaxed we feel and how well we digest food. Autumn is naturally a time of balancing vata and reducing any symptoms of wind, dryness and erratic behavior.
Tips for autumn:
Go to sleep by 10 pm and wake up between 5:00-5:30. This is the vata time of day and creates stability and integration for the body/mind. Sleeping through this period can result in poor sleep due to the heightened dream activity of the mind.
Upon waking, apply warmed sesame oil over the entire body followed by a hot shower and a cold rinse. This is warming and helps to stimulate the lymph circulation, benefits the mind and emotions, and generally improves immune functioning. Especially good for vata types or people with vata imbalance.
Eat less iced or cold food or drinks, and avoid dried fruits, crackers, and yeast breads. Mushy, warm, and savory porridges for breakfast with root vegetables and soups and stews are best. Steamed greens are recommended over salad.
To keep the digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems healthy and promote sound sleep, drink
Tea made with cinnamon, ginger, and licorice one hour after breakfast
Miso soup in the afternoon
Chamomile or cumin-coriander-fennel tea in the evening, and
Warm cow or almond milk with cardamom and nutmeg right before bed
Avoid black tea or coffee after the morning.
If you are considering a fall cleanse, avoid fasting as it creates too much lightness and emptiness during this season. Eating a diet that includes only fresh (and ideally local) fruits and vegetables and khichari (curried mung beans and rice soup) for one week is a very effective alternative to fasting.
Make room in your schedule for rest and relaxation in a quiet setting. Avoid loud music, fast driving, over-scheduling, and starting too many new projects.
Dress warmly when indoors or outside, paying special attention to protect the neck, ears, and head on windy days. Avoid cold, drafty environments.
Add restorative postures to your daily yoga practice.
Use a neti pot to help keep your sinuses clear during autumn. This will aid in eliminating allergens.
Yogic Ideas for Autumn:
--Breath becomes a key element of an autumn practice. Start your day with nadi shodna (alternate nostril breathing), helping to purify the channels of toxins, and especially vata-toxins that accumulate from tension and constriction of the channels. As you start to tune into your breath you begin a sort of landscape maintenance, pruning branches that are no longer useful and letting your leaves fall. --Your asana practice could support the lungs/breath and intestines/digestion with some slow sun salutations savoring the breath, twists to cleanse the intestines, inversions and forward bends. --A long savasana will help you feel grounded and to encourage a restful sleep. --Simply by tuning into the natural shifts and changes of the seasons like this, we can adapt our yoga practices to keep us in balance.