According to Ayurveda, as the seasons change and fall arrives, Vata Dosha increases. Fall is a time of change, instability, and sensitivity, and keeping your Vata Dosha in check is key to staying healthy through fall and winter.
What is Vata Dosha?
Vata has many positive aspects. The combination of air and space is mobile, creative, light, airy, great for communication between people as well as the communication with the internal environment inside our body. Vata is what makes our systems move and flow. It's the poetic phrases of the writer and storyteller. It's the fantasies of the artist that are expressed through paintings, collages, or metal. It is the cool breeze and dry deserts.
But everything in moderation. When Vata increases excessively, it dries out our tissues. It creates wind in our bowels, manifesting as constipation and bloating. There may be a lack of appetite, too — either from the digestive upset or because the creative mind has become too anxious and worried to eat. People with deranged Vata can feel unstable, unbalanced, and ungrounded. People with deranged Vata are the daydreamers who cannot connect to daily life with the people and environment they live in. They become flighty and changeable, maybe unable to sleep.
Although some people have more Vata Dosha, air, and wind in their constitution, we are all susceptible to an increase of Vata in fall. Fall is the season of change — just like Vata. It shares the same air and spacelike qualities. And fall is indeed changeable — one day there's rain; on the next there's sunshine, it's windy, and we observe the season change from summer to winter. The leaves of the trees change color.
We cannot change our external environments, but we can balance our internal environment through our daily routines, diet, and herbs.
Vata is dry, light, irregular, rough, mobile, cold, quick, and changeable. To reduce Vata, we reduce those qualities in our daily lives and routines. We can also start to complement with opposites to calm any excess. The dry, rough, and light qualities can be reduced with oils, ghee, and milk.
Here's how you can find balance
Reduce any dry, light, and cold foods. This includes raw salads, fresh juices, and cold foods straight out of the fridge. Many cereals share the dry, light, and rough qualities of Vata when eaten with cold milk as breakfast.
Instead, start eating warm, cooked meals. Nourishing foods such as kitchari, casseroles, or soups are perfect Vata-reducing foods. They are easy to digest, too, for the sensitive Vata digestive system. Add warming herbs such as ginger, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon. Adding ghee or oil to your meals is an excellent way to reduce the dry qualities of Vata. These ingredients oil up the digestion and any dry skin.
The spontaneity and excitement of Vata can have many benefits, but an excess increases Vata Dosha. Too much traveling, movement, and change increase the quality of mobility and change. Especially air travel. We can consider how we choose to travel, and if we can, find ways to do so in nature with the feet on the ground. Internet surfing, social media, and emails all increase Vata.
Fall is a good time to reduce those activities — or at least do them during the earlier part of the day so they don't influence your sleep.
Start waking up and going to bed at the same time. One of the best Ayurvedic ways to calm and nourish excessive Vata is with Abhyanga, or self-massage. Use a warming oil such as sesame or a specific Vata-reducing massage oil. Apply it firmly to the body before your shower. If you can't make the time for a full-body massage, apply the oil to your feet before bedtime.
The oil counteracts the dry, rough qualities of Vata. When applied to the skin, the skin gets soft and smooth. But the qualities enter the Dhatus, our tissues, and our whole being. Massaging your skin also grounds and calms down an anxious mind, moistens cranky joints, and soothes a sensitive Vata digestion. To stay grounded, get out in nature, put your feet on the ground, and breathe.
Living Ayurvedically simply means to live in balance with our internal and external environments. We learn to listen to our bodies and how they respond to the time of day, the seasons, our food choices, and our lives in general. Take time to check in with yourself, breathe, and enjoy staying in the flow of continuous change.