So much happens to us over the course of a year, right?! And although you know I have so many stories to share from recent travels + teachings in Mexico, USA, Greece, Cyprus and South Africa over this last year, that is not my focus for this blog post.
Staying present in this moment finds me in Bend, Oregon as the seasons change from summer to autumn, and the weather sharply turned from the intense heat of summer, when the days are long and bright to the cold, windy, rainy / snowy days of Autumn. After following the heat of summer for the last several years, this time of the year is always challenging for me.
I didn't understand why until I started to study Ayurveda. Ayurveda is based on the 5 elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space. These elements combine naturally to form what's called the 3 doshas, Vata, Pitta, Kapha. We all have these 3 doshas within us in different quantities and this is what makes us the individual people we are.
Vata represents the "wind" in the body. It governs movement in the body + mind, breathing and elimination. Pitta and Kapha doshas can not move without Vata. The qualities of Vata are cold, dry, rough, mobile and subtle. These are similar qualities we experience during autumn. There is only one rule is Ayurveda: like increases like. And I since my True Nature, or Prakruti, is dominantly Vata dosha, and Autumn is known as "Vata Season", a season which is also dominated by Vata, these Vata qualities become amplified.
So to keep myself feeling balanced, I need to do things that create the opposite of Vata qualities, being warm, oily/ moist, soft, static and gross. What does this mean?
~I need to stay warm, wearing soft, cozy fabrics against my skin and in layers, so I can add them or take them off, depending on the time of day and fluctuations in the temperature.
~Since I have been traveling so much and for so long, staying still, grounded in my daily routine, is very pacifying to reducing any excess Vata dosha.
~Staying hydrated, drinking hot herbal teas and keeping my skin moisturized.
~I have been eating more warm, cooked, grounding foods and less raw salads, smoothies and juices.
There are 10 pairs of opposites in nature:
hot / cold
heavy / light
moist . oily / dry
gross / subtle
sticky / clear
static / mobile
smooth . slimy / rough
dull . slow / sharp
soft / hard
porous . liquid / dense
The Autumnal Season is a major transitional marker in the yearly calendar. Ayurveda divides the calendar into 6 different seasons. These seasons are distinguished by the Earth in relation to the appearance of the northern or southern movements of the Sun and Moon.
When the Sun appears to move north in relation to the Earth, Late Winter marks the beginning of the northern phase of the year. During this time, the snows begin to melt and the Earth begins to thaw. In Early Spring, the as the Sun strengthens, the Earth absorbs more and more of its heat and starts to suck the moisture from the Earth until this phase ends with Summer, when the rains have ceased and the Earth becomes parched.
Ayurveda teaches that any changes affect us in either a subtle or profound way. We use the most energy during this time of the year. It is considered a time of depletion because the Sun has been absorbing the body's moisture and humidity, just as it has been doing to the Earth.
Contrary to the northern phase, the southern phase begins as the Sun appears to be moving southward, beginning a period of cooling that commences in Early Fall, often known as the rainy season in some parts, then moves into Autumn, and Early Winter. This half of the year is governed by the Moon, rather than the Sun. The Moon is restorative in nature, which reflects a time of natural hibernation, relaxation and rejuvenation. It is during this time that the body rebuilds, gains strength and vitality.
SOME TIPS FOR STAYING BALANCED THIS SEASON:
1. Think of this season as a preparation time. Begin to slow down. Add less to your schedule. Start eating warm, cooked, grounding foods like soups, curries, crock pot meals, risottos, chillis, spicy foods, roasted veggies, root veggies, squashes, sweet potatoes, hot drinks, golden milk, chai, herbal teas, matcha, cacao elixirs, and adding warming spices to your food is very helpful to restore your vital energy, replenishing your ojas.
2. Stick to a routine. Make time for yourself. Slow down. Keep your schedule simple.
3. Start reading more, doing your inside hobbies, art, crafts, spending time with family and friends gathering around the hearth.
4. An invigorating + heating Yoga practice will keep you energized, fit, warmed up and feeling great!
5. If you practice Pranayama (breathing exercises) Kapalabhati, Breath of Fire, will warm you from the inside out!
6. Stay warm! And keep moving!