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by Andrew Shakeshaft September 14, 2017

Staying Healthy During the Season of Vāta (Autumn)

Āyurveda is a dynamic system of healing and as such helps us adjust to the changing seasons; reminding us to focus awareness on the environment as well as our day to day activities.

In India, Sharad (Autumn) is a season very much connected to movement. The arrival of cooling winds from the north slowly dissipate the lethargy of long summers. Autumn is also related to the biological humor Vāta (air element) and in Autumn the environment reflects many of its characteristics. Signs of accumulated Vāta include: dryness, restlessness, anxiety, fatigue and a busy mind - many of which manifest during this period.

Autumn also brings a sense of inner urgency, the need to move and prepare for the coming of winter. In the modern world this inner drive might be equated to the need to accumulate resources to see us through the winter season as the days grow steadily shorter. This often means more travel, communication and social interaction in the months leading up to the festive season.  Suddenly increasing the pace-of-life, together with the cooler weather can put a strain on the body that can tip vāta out of balance. The can result often dryness, stiffness and lowered immunity.

This dryness can often affect joints, muscular elasticity and mucus membranes - creating fertile ground for opportunistic bacterial / viral infections. Autumn can  typically be a season of sore throats, colds and flu - unless we take preventative actions to help the stay healthy during the season change.

Hints and tips at home

Here at Essential Āyurveda we aim to keep you informed and well prepared for these seasonal transitions, with simple yet effective strategies and recipes to help you improve your seasonal resistance.

The following provides a selection of easily implemented techniques that aim to relieve or reduce dryness, fatigue and overly busy minds that can be associated with the cooling season.

 

  1. On cooler days try to choose warm, nourishing foods that are both satisfying and grounding. On days that feel warmer, increase the intake of bitter / astringent vegetables or light tasty soups.
  2. Try implementing some simple cleanses, these can be something as simple as a short kitchari fast, or making your primarily meals (for a few days) seasonal fruits and vegetables together with a light grain or quinoa. Green Smoothies are still very good during autumn as they help clear accumulated heat as well as providing a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. After a short cleanse, Ayurveda recommends tonification techniques known as Rasāyana or ‘path or way of rejuvenation’.
  3. Herbal teas drunk regularly can help dispel dryness from the body, and also help cleanse the eliminatory channels (such as the kidneys) while soothing a restless mind. Two of our favourites for autumn are Vata tea and Detox Tea. Both great tasting, organic herb blends that contain data reducing herbs such as licorice, ginger and cinnamon.
  4. Also simply getting to bed a little earlier during Vāta season can also be a highly effective remedy in itself. To ensure effectiveness sleeping patterns need to be regular. Darker evenings promote melatonin production regulating our sleep/wake cycles. You could try to reduce white light from computer screens etc. before bed.     
  5. Abhyangha – the combination of grounding massage and warm Ayurvedic oils makes abhyanga, or self-massage one of the very best ways to balance vāta. Good oil choices for autumn are Vata oil, Ashwagandha oil and Mahanarayan oil.

A little extra help

Ashwagandha is autumn's super herb! It is a nourishing Rasāyana herb that is great for a little extra oomph at this time of year and is energising without being over-stimulating and so really supports healthy Vāta. Useful formulas containing Ashwagandha are Stresscalm - helps relax the nervous system and calm busy minds; Shatavari and Ashwagandha formula - supports women’s vitality and Ashwagandha formula for men.

Chyawanprash is another great Āyurvedic Rasāyana, belonging to a category of formulas known as avaleha - a fusion of pulped fruit, honey / sugar and an impressive mixture of herbs and roots - all of which complement one another energetically as well as therapeutically.  Chyawanprash is a tasty way to increase your antioxidant and vitamin C levels whilst supporting immunity - it is also one of our most popular formulas.

Triphala is well known for its cleansing and detox properties but it is also an excellent tonic and rejuvenate formula, especially to the bowel and digestive system. Its Rasāyana properties are partly due to is post digestive sweetness, which is one of the reasons it is fine to take as a supplement long term.

Autumn can be a beautiful time of year with its reds, oranges and golds; its cool nights and the remaining warm days. With a little help from the wisdom of Ayurveda we hope you can enjoy this magical season feeling healthy and vibrant :)

Andrew Shakeshaft
Andrew Shakeshaft


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