The characteristic of autumn that I love most is the feeling of the cool brisk air against my skin when I step outside. However, it is this very same attribute that requires me to carry Chapstick at all times and apply lotion or massage oil to my skin numerous times a day throughout the season. This airy quality penetrates deeper than my skin, impacting digestion and creating anxious tendencies. Believe it or not, fall is my favorite season and the first sentence above holds true despite the potential negative impacts the cool brisk air may have if it goes unbalanced.
According to Ayurveda (the science of life), fall is known as the season that is inherently full of Vata (the Dosha or constitution that is represented by the elements of ether/air). A Vata energy that is balanced is one that inspires creativity, enthusiasm, speed, and agility; whereas an excess of Vata can lead to mental, nervous, or digestive disorders. So to align with nature, we must balance Vata with more Kapha (earth and water) and Pitta (fire and water) energies.
Therefore, I welcome this season as an opportunity to emphasize activities that ground and soothe me. My asana practice focuses on poses that stabilize me. Maintaining my steady connection to the earth, I move through my practice in a slow, methodical, and fluid manner. Gentle movements guided by my breath, forward bends, hip openers, twists, seated poses, and restorative poses are ideal at pacifying my excess Vata energy. So these are the classes of poses that I am highlighting this week — both in my home practice and in the classes I teach.
I am also engaging in other practices to appease Vata, such as establishing a regular daily routine for myself, getting more and better sleep, dressing warmly (excited to wear scarves that have been in the closet untouched for months), and finding creative ways to stay calm and relaxed. Diet plays a major role in my ability to find balance between the Doshas. It is a good thing that I love the foods of this season – root vegetables are my favorite. Eating guidelines for balancing Vata suit me just fine: warm, nourishing meals, sweet/sour/salty tastes, spices that are warming but not spicy, and limiting the intake of raw foods. In fact, I am enjoying a cup of steamed milk with fresh nutmeg as I finish this writing and get ready for my new bedtime.
I am confident that all of these activities will create a better balance in my life so that I can step out into the cool brisk season and be inspired by the beautiful foliage and creative shakti in the air.