5 Ways To Balance Vata Dosha This Fall
Fall announces itself as the air cools around you. Though the days may be warm or hot, the evenings and early mornings are cooler–now is the time to focus on balancing Vata dosha. As Vata season continues to unfold, it will become cooler, windier, and drier and the leaves fall, and the ground turns brown. The doshas are vulnerable to seasonal transitions; therefore, balance is of the utmost importance. In this article, we will walk you through what Vata season is, signs Vata dosha is out of balance, and 5 ways you can re-balance Vata dosha this fall.
Before jumping into Vata dosha, a few words about the doshas. Ayurveda, the knowledge of life, describes the world as being made up of five elements, Aakash (space), Jala (water), Prithvi (earth), Teja (fire), and Vayu (air). These five elements come together to form three distinct humors referred to as Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Nature does not standardize. Just as there are no two leaves on a tree that are identical, there are not two humans who are the same. Everyone is comprised of a one-of-a-kind mix of the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas. The doshas shape the physical body, sleep, digestion, hair, voice, intellect, and more.
The petals represent the five elements, and those elements combine together to create each dosha. Earth and water comprise Kapha. Fire and water combine, and Pitta manifests. Air and ether together create Vata. Kapha governs protection and lubrication, such as the immune system, synovial fluid in the joints, and the mucosal lining of the respiratory system. Pitta governs metabolism, such as food, touch, and thinking. Vata governs movement inside and outside of us, such as the wind outside your window, synaptic movement in the brain, and bowel movement. Simply put, to balance the doshas, opposite qualities are the treatment. Kapha needs invigoration for motivation. Pitta needs to chill out, relax, cool off, and let go of intensity. Vata needs grounding and soothing to stabilize.
Now that the groundwork has been laid about the doshas let’s move into Vata.
What is Vata Season?
Depending on your location and the climate around you, Vata season may vary. Generally speaking, it begins in the fall and ends in early winter. It may surprise you to learn that Vata will start peeking out long before the leaves peak. In Minnesota, for example, Vata will begin to increase in subtle or not-so-subtle ways by the second week of August. It may be hot and humid in the day, but for those with Vata constitution or Vata issues, there is enough of an increase to feel it — mind and body.
It is characterized by light, dry, cool, rough, mobile, and clear qualities. As such, Autumn is the classic Vata season. As Vata in the environment increases, Vata in us is likely to increase as well. During this time, bodies often become constipated, dry, cold, tight, and sore, and in mind, Vata can manifest as anxiety, sleep changes, and feeling scattered. This is why balancing the Vata is so important for general well-being.
What is Vata Dosha?
Before we dive into different ways you can balance or re-balance Vata this fall, let’s discuss what the Vata Dosha is. In Ayurveda, there are three doshas that comprise a person’s constitution: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each dosha is characterized by its own unique qualities (to learn more about the doshas and how they impact your life, click here). All three doshas are present in each of us, it is a matter of proportion of each dosha. We have a predominant dosha or perhaps a combination. Knowing your doshic picture will empower you to make the correct and healthiest choices for you, thereby enabling you to live a more balanced life.
Vata dosha consists of air and ether and governs all movement in the universe — whether that is respiration, bowel movement, digestion, or the movement or stillness of our minds. Therefore, Vata is of primary importance for everyone as it is the movement or lack of movement behind everything.
Signs Vata Dosha is Imbalanced
When Vata Dosha becomes imbalanced, you may notice the following:
- Changes in sleep
- Poor circulation (cold hands and feet), muscle spasm, pain, and aches, tightness
- Dry skin, hair, joints
- Difficulty concentrating (feeling spaced out)
- Difficulty remembering (name search, walking in a room for something and forgetting why)
- Anxious depression
- Brain fog
- Anxiety attacks
How to Balance Vata Dosha this Fall
Eat Vata Soothing Foods
Favor warm, moist, well-cooked, highly nourishing foods such as soups and stews, roasted root vegetables and hard, winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.), Generally speaking, sweet, sour, and salty flavors pacify Vata dosha. When choosing foods, select items that are as close to their natural state as possible — as nature made them or as close to it. Do yourself a favor with flavor and select whole, natural foods.
“Fresh carrots are available in abundance now at local grower’s markets. Think about it this way–where do carrots (and other root veggies) grow? Under the earth. Doesn’t get more grounding than that. Enjoy this food as medicine.” – Veena
Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing for Deep Relaxation
There are several practices of pranayama. The foundation for all is diaphragmatic breathing. To practice any other pranayama without having established this foundation of diaphragmatic breathing is a mistake and may cause harm. The unhealthy effects of breathing incorrectly on our mind and body is profound. We are born into the world breathing diaphragmatically, but our breath becomes uneducated as we grow. Now is the time to re-educate the breath to be more relaxed, sleep better, and manage emotions better by breathing diaphragmatically. Through working with our breath, we come to know our being in a new, healing, and holistic way through balanced breathing. With this balance, we feel a sense of security, ease, comfort, and relaxation in the nervous system.
When we lie down to relax, we see it is possible to relax the response to pain, negative emotions, and stress levels in our hearts and mind and create a calmer, stiller environment within ourselves. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life.
Here’s how to get started: Reduce anxiety, increase calm, and be centered.
1. Lay in a comfortable, quiet space on a firm flat surface. You may use a yoga mat or blanket underneath you. Cover yourself with a shawl or thin blanket.
2. Relax your body
3. Place your right hand on your abdomen just below your rib cage. With your hand there, you will see that the belly is rising and falling with each breath. What creates that rhythmic rising and falling is the diaphragm coming down and relaxing up. Contracting and relaxing.
4. You may place your other hand on your upper chest. As you are reclined, there will be very little movement in the chest. The chest is quiet, still.
5. In practicing diaphragmatic breathing, there are 5 qualities to observe:
- Deep (relax tension in the belly and let the breath flow deeply, filling the lungs gently and fully)
- Smooth (flowing without jerks)
- Even (inhalation and exhalation are about the same length)
- Soundless (without forceful inhalation or exhalation)
- Continuous (no pause, that is to say, at the end of exhalation, it flows directly into inhalation, weaving the breaths one into the other.)
6. Relax your body, relax your breathing, relax your mind.
7. Now, you will discover something fascinating — you are not the breather — instead, you will discover it is your body that is breathing. You are the observer of your relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing. Calm, grounded, balanced.
Fear, anxiety, worries, grief, and sadness are all of these are part of human life (and especially challenging for Vata) emotions that we all experience. However, they do not need to disrupt our breathing, and our breath is the vehicle for comforting ourselves in the presence of these experiences.
Follow Ritucharya, Your Ayurveda Seasonal Routine
Ritucharya is following seasonal rhythms to live in balance with what is unfolding in each season. It leverages the positive influences of the season and mitigates the not-so-positive impacts.
Here are some tips for creating a Vata soothing Ritucharya for fall:
- Enjoy moist, warm, nourishing foods (opt to select foods that are in seasons such as root veggies and hard squashes)
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day
- Create an exercise routine that focuses on slow, gentle, restorative movements
- Limit screen time. Aim to reduce technology consumption by 50% and shut it down and off at dinner time. Reclaim your private life.
- Immerse yourself in the outdoors.
- Take some time to reflect on whom and how you spend your time and energy. If it is not supportive of your path, consider re-prioritizing.
- Incorporate a regular meditation practice into your routine, for example – use our 2-minute guided meditation throughout your day and our guided practices, 11 minutes in the morning and 11 in the evening as part of your daily routine.
Focus on Slow, Gentle Movements which grounds and soothes Vata
Vata season is all about restoring and relaxing as the world (and each of us) prepares for a rebirth after winter. As such, don’t overexert your body through fast activities and exercise. Instead, focus on slow, gentle restorative movements and practices. Walking, hiking, biking, a soothing Vata yogasana routine, and moderate cardio are ideal choices for this season.
Take time for self-care as Vata benefits from more rejuvenation.
Vata has begun to announce itself. While the hot and humid days persist, you notice that cool, dryness in the evening as you are sitting outside. You are starting to hear the wind moving through the leaves, creating a slightly different sound. Vata is subtle AND significant. It can catch us and take us for a ride (given its mobile nature) and before we know it we may experience those familiar Vata symptoms such as increased anxiety, constipation, changes in sleep, and a general sense of feeling ungrounded and uncentered.
Take extra time for self-care this fall — an ounce of prevention will go a long way., Focus on abhyanga with our high-quality, nourishing oils, Nasya, guided relaxations, a good book, and a couch and warm blanket with a cup of spiced warm milk before bed.
This time of year with hot days and cool nights and early mornings is a wild dance of Vata and Pitta–an ideal time for your Follow Up Consultation.
“We will look at both Vata and Pitta dosha, make needed adjustments to your herbal and food protocols and Ayurvedic lifestyle tools. It’s amazing what refining a few habits can do to keep us in balance year-round.” -Veena
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