Here in the Northeast it’s hard not to notice the seasonal shift that seems to take place right after Labor Day. The shorter days, cooler mornings and dry falling leaves symbolize the beginning of Vata Season on the Ayurvedic clock. Vata is made up of the elements of Air and Ether and exists in anything and everything that moves. Vata cannot be dissected, seen or touched but it’s presence is apparent in the beating of a heart to the blowing of the wind. According to Ayurveda, vata season begins in the fall once the heat of summer has dissipated and continues into late winter. It is made up of the following qualities or gunas: dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. These qualities are unmistakable during the fall and winter months.
Fall and winter air – Dry, light, cold, clear, subtle
Falling leaves – Dry, light, rough, mobile
Winter snow – Subtle, cold, light, mobile
Take a moment to consider how these qualities show up in your body and mind during vata season. Do you have dry, rough skin and hair? Inconsistent digestion? Cold hands and feet or an overall difficulty warming up? A mobile mind that is difficult to quiet or always moving from one thought to the next? A spacey feeling (ether element) that makes it hard to focus?
Ayurveda teaches us that the best way to counteract the overabundance of vata in ourselves is to offset its qualities with opposing qualities. Consider a diet rich in hearty soups and stews cooked with ghee and warming, earthy spices. These grounding foods will introduce the qualities of stable, oily, heavy and gross offsetting the lighter qualities of vata. Eating foods with vata qualities during vata season, like salads, juices, smoothies and raw vegetables (dry, light, cold, rough, subtle) will only aggravate vata further. Consider massaging the body with sesame oil before a warm shower or even just the hands and feet before bed for the warming, nourishing and grounding benefits it provides. Simple changes like sticking to a reasonable sleep schedule (10:00PM – 6:00AM), eating warm, cooked and fresh food at meal times and avoiding too much over stimulating television, screen time or reading material will help to quiet the mind and keep you grounded. Treating yourself to a restorative or slow flow yoga class or simply just bringing your awareness to your stable foundation as you move through a moderate flow class will cultivate a sense of stability to counteract all the movement of vata. Nourish yourself inside and out this vata season and experience for yourself the benefits of this timeless wisdom.
May you be blessed with health in the body, peace in the spirit and love in the heart.
- Sharon Gordon, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist and RYT