Updated: Oct 7, 2022
With the end of summer the air starts to cool down, nature dries out and the number of windy, cold days are increasing, when finally, after the Indian Summer, cold settles in and with it Autumn arrives.
Nature prepares for big changes, the air element becomes dominant, which is going to give the character of the Autumn season. Vata dosha is the catalyser of change, letting go, breaking down, creating lightness.
The Autumn period finishes with the dominance of ether element at the end of the season, which is associated with spirituality, internal expansion.
Everything is dryer, cooler, lighter, subtler, more mobile, maybe somewhat rougher and unpredictable compared to Summer.
How does it affect us?
During the Pitta dominant summer Pitta dosha accumulated in our body and autumn is there to drive it out to create balance. If it does not happen - the drying process is not completed - our body may produce extra mucus to capture Pitta dosha (gets vitiated) and this extra mucus is a fertile soil for viruses and bacteria, and creates the base for autumn colds and flus.
Towards the middle of Autumn the lowering temperatures draw the blood towards the centre of the body to maintain internal heat. The circulation is less dynamic, which can be felt at the extremities, where our hands and feet are dryer, and so is our colon.
The increasing heat at the centre also serves the purpose to intensify Agni, our digestive fire, so we can gain some extra weight to have a bit thicker layer of fat preparing for the really cold winter days.
During this period Vishamagni can dominate our digestive fire due to the hectic nature of Vata, which means we may experience a very variable appetite.
This is also the time when pain in the hip and lower back region (e.g. Sciatica), joint issues, any problem with the bladder and female organs or related to the nervous system may resurface or intensify.
What can we do for ourselves to keep the balance?
During this period we can create better balance by balancing out the energies and qualities of Vata dosha with its opposites, therefore we should be looking for warmth, heaviness, steadiness, softness, nourishment, moisture, things, which are strengthening, building and grounding.
Our food is one way, through which we can help the balance. Food which is cooked with good amount of healthy fat, protein, carbs, is warm, soupy and brought to life with warming spices will help us with that. Soups and stews keep us moist and warm. Nourishing ingredients, like carrots, beetroots, squashes, ghee and almonds – when digested well – build Ojas, the basis of health.
Beside this, once the trees no longer bear fruits, its worth changing from row to stewed fruits.
This is the season, when it is essential to have a routine to have the pillars of the days not to get lost and scattered around with the light and spreading energies this season brings! Those pillars can be your regular wake and sleep timings, meal timings and sport-yoga/relaxing timings.
The balance of the cold and dynamic energies of Vata dosha can be supported by yoga too: gently strengthening asana flows help the circulation and generate the necessary heat in the body. Pranayama and relaxation, concentration practices create stillness and rest for the mind, which is the basis of self reflection to initiate letting go, changes and dwell deep into a balanced lightness.
Photo: David Bartus