Blue Lotus Ayurveda Newsletter
The Qualities of Fall...
...dry, light, cool, windy, and rough, correspond to the attributes of vata dosha. Therefore, in the fall vata will be increased in the body, and the routine for fall should focus on managing vata, not only to avoid vata type disorders (constipation, spasms, sciatica, asthma, fears, worries, etc.), but also because vata moves the other doshas and can cause them to go out of balance as well.
The following are general fall recommendations, so these routines and suggestions can be flexible. For an individualized program, you should consult with an Ayurvedic clinician.
In the fall it is optimal to wake up before sunrise, if possible, when everything is quiet, calm, and peaceful. Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper (copper is best for vata and kapha, stainless steel is good for all doshas) and then brush your teeth, preferably with an Ayurvedic or herbal toothpaste.
After brushing your teeth, it is also recommended to take a mouthful of sesame oil, swish it slowly before spitting it out, and gently massaging your gums. This will help prevent receding gums, a common problem in the fall. After that, gargle with haritaki or triphala tea, made by steeping 1 tsp. haritaki or triphala powder in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes and straining well. Drinking the tea afterward is also recommended, as this helps cleanse the stomach and intestines, and stimulates apana vayu (the downward wind) in the colon.
After this, do pranayama. It is not recommended to do too much hatha yoga before having a bowel movement, so doing pranayama first will help induce a bowel movement. Basic nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is a good, simple pranayama that can be done daily. See side bar for instructions. Do not strain in any way and don't do pranayama if you feel breathless, your heart is beating fast, or if you have upper respiratory congestion or are depressed.
Rubbing sesame oil all over the body before a warm shower is a good fall routine, especially for vata constitutions. Yoga asanas that calm vata are lotus pose with forward and backward bends, vajrasana, spinal twist, camel, cobra, and cat poses. Shoulder and head stands can be done gently, and sun salutations, done slowly with awareness, are also recommended. A yoga session should always end with shavasana, or corpse pose to completely relax and further gain the benefits of the whole session.
After asanas, you can do more pranayama before meditation, if you have time and feel so inclined. Good colors for vata are red, orange, and yellow, and dressing in those is especially good for vata constitutions. White is also a good choice.
A grounding breakfast is important during this season. Warm oatmeal, cream of rice, cream of wheat, or any grain that calms vata, with a little ghee are good options. Quinoa is another choice that is easy to cook.
Lunch should be eaten midday and include vata soothing foods like basmati rice, mung dal or kitchari, and steamed vegetables, as well as whole wheat chapatis or tortillas, as they have no yeast and will not aggravate vata as yeasted breads will. Avoid eating too much salad during the fall, as this can cool down agni (the digestive fire) and aggravate vata. Vata people can take a short nap an hour after lunch to calm down vata.
Dinner should be around 6 PM and no later than 7 PM. To soothe the dry, rough qualities of vata, it is good to eat steamed or sauteed vegetables, rice with ghee, and warm soups. A good dessert is cream of rice or wheat with peeled almonds, or Indian halva. Avoid drinking excess water with your meals. Sipping a little water is okay, but no more than a cup, as this slows agni and disturbs the digestion. For the same reason, coffee and black tea should be avoided after a meal. Better choices are digestive herbal teas such as ginger, cinnamon, and clove tea, or CCF (cumin, coriander, fennel) tea.
Stay Warm & Get Plenty of Rest
Vigorous exercise should be avoided during the fall, and people should rest and relax in the evening. One should go to bed early, by 9:30 or 10 PM. Hot milk is a good drink before bedtime, as it induces a natural sound sleep. It also nourishes the reproductive tissues in both men and women. Milk should be taken hot to help its digestion. Heat up the milk until it boils and rises, then turn off the heat. Pour it in a cup and let it cool to the point where you can drink it. This way you'll avoid the formation of mucus.
If you are allergic to milk, then mix half a cup of milk with 1/2 cup water and boil together with a pinch of powdered ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg. Slowly over time you can increase the amount of milk and decrease the water. Goat's milk is good for pitta and kapha people, while cow's milk is good for pitta and vata people. If you take triphala every night, drink the milk at least one hour after the triphala.
It is especially advised to do regular nasya (nasal therapy) and self-massage with oil during the autumn. The best nasya oils for this season are vacha oil, bala oil, or dashamula oil. Three to five drops in each nostril will calm vata and clear the mind. Oils recommended for daily massage are mahanarayan oil, vacha oil, bala oil, and (unrefined) sesame oil.
Since vata dosha is in charge of all movement in the body, including that of the other doshas, it is particularly important to manage vata during the fall. This is why Ayurveda highly recommends doing cleansing and rejuvenating therapies during this time, particularly panchakarma, a week-long deep cleansing program.
Therapies like abhyanga (warm oil Ayurvedic massage) and shirodhara (pouring of warm oil on the forehead) are also good measures in the fall to counteract its dry, cool, and rough qualities. A panchakarma program is not only a good preventative measure, it can also set the pace for a solid fall routine to keep vata down and prepare the body for winter.
If doing a full panchakarma program is not possible, then weekly vata management (which consists of abhyanga, steam, and shirodhara) with added routines done at home can be very beneficial. Remember, try to stay warm, grounded, and in tune with the changing season!
Yoga and Mantra for Healing
November 13, 2004
Learn the Ayurvedic approach to yoga postures and experience the power of mantra to improve your health and well being.
Things to Do in Fall
* Eat a vata-pacifying diet
Things to Avoid in Fall
* Foods that increase vata
Basic Nadi Shodana
Facing east or north, sit comfortably on the floor in a crossed-legged position, or upright on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
Benefits of Panchakarma
* It eliminates toxins and toxic conditions, both physical and mental
Blue Lotus Ayurveda
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