Ayurvedic guidelines for balance during Autumn
It’s time to say goodbye to a hectic but wonderful Summer, and I’m exhausted! I feel like I need to take stock and regroup before the madness of the Festive Season sets in and Autumn is the perfect time to do that.
During Autumn, the pace of life slows down and gives us time to reflect on our health (mind, body, spirit) and our relationships. It is the ideal time for reflection, planning and for clearing and cleansing our space, friends list, fridges and bodies.
Ayurvedically speaking, Autumn is dry, light, cold, windy, rough and empty (e.g. trees lose their leaves). These qualities also manifest in us during Autumn, more than at any other time of the year. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety increase, especially in the run-up to the festive season which, by many, is described as the loneliest time of the year. In order to counteract these qualities, Ayurveda suggests we nurture ourselves, slow down and rebalance as we take stock of the year. A major part of rebalancing is “letting go” of anything weighing us down physically, spiritually or emotionally.
As the seasons change, our needs change. Summer clothes, bedding and barbeques are packed away and scarves and coats come out, along with warm and heavy duvets. Logs for the fire are bought and mulled wine stocked up on. These are obvious changes we make as the seasons change, but internally we are also changing. Our dietary needs change from cooling salads and drinks to warm and hearty soups and stews (and mulled wine!).
It’s a great time of year to do a short cleanse, especially if you notice a white coating on your tongue which indicates the presence of toxin build-up in your system. This leads to malabsorption of nutrients which can be seen as a scalloped edge to the tongue. Cracks and lines on the tongue also indicate other imbalances. If you notice any of this on your tongue, chances are you’re in need of a cleanse to reset and balance your body before any symptoms like muscle and joint pain, fatigue, heavy limbs and brain fog set in.
Diet is one of the 3 pillars of life, (the other 2 being Sleep and Sexual Energy). According to the Ancient Texts “one who manages these three pillars properly is guaranteed a full life span that will not be cut short by disease.”
Autumn is also a good time for a little pruning of relationships which interfere with our well-being rather than nurture us. And are we nurturing those closest to us? Forgiveness and making peace are great stress busters and literally relieve us of physical pain.
Rebalancing Lifestyle Guidelines
Wake up early. At least once a week, try to experience the extraordinary silence and peace to be felt at 5am. You may think it will leave you feeling tired, but the opposite is true.
Do some Yoga, Pranayama and meditation. Good yoga asanas for Autumn include the Lotus pose, Forward Bend, Backward Bend, Vajrasana (sitting on the heels), Spinal Twist, Camel, Cobra, Cow and Cat. Also, do Sun Salutations – a minimum of 12 cycles. Finish Yoga with the Corpse Pose and relax. Gentle Alternate Nostril breathing is good following yoga postures. Then meditate for a few minutes.
Good autumn colours to wear are red, yellow and orange. White is also helpful.
Be sure to keep warm and dress warmly. Cover your ears on cold, blustery days with a warm hat.
Breakfast can be warm and grounding spiced oatmeal or stewed fruit (apple, dates, raisins, apricots, prunes with lovely spices like clove, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom). Feel free to add a little honey after its cooked. Yum! And it gets you in the mood for Christmas. I feel all cosy just recalling the lovely smell of it. Pop everything into a saucepan just before your shower, and when you come downstairs, its done.
Lunch and supper can consist of mung dahl, soups and stews or steamed/stir-fried vegetables drizzled in ghee. Basmati rice is nutritious (unlike other white rice) yet light to eat. All the foods suggested are light and easy to digest, but filling and nourishing with a low glycemic index – so it keeps you going for longer.
In the evening, swap your after dinner coffee with a comforting herbal tea like cumin-coriander-fennel tea or warming ginger-cinnamon-clove tea.
At this time of year, an afternoon nap is welcome and vigorous exercise should be avoided. (12 rounds of sun salutations is exercise enough!)
Try to be in bed by 10pm.
Drinking a cup of warm milk (with a pinch of ginger, cardamom and nutmeg) or Chyawanprash dissolved in warm milk is ideal during the autumn season. It induces sound, natural sleep.
Basti or herbal enema is the superior way of pacifying Vata and is one of the most effective remedies for Vata-type allergies.
It is both purifying and balancing. To the uninitiated it may sound like an ordeal, but it is far from that. I recommend consulting an Ayurvedic Practitioner before attempting enemas. Please note, Basti is not the same as a colemas or colonics. These are lightening and depleting and therefore unbalancing in nature. Basti is deeply soothing and simultaneously nurturing and balancing to the colon. These can be done weekly during Autumn.
And… saving my favourite for last…
Massage is not only about relaxing, but it is also revitalising, balancing, detoxifying and anti-aging for the body. Restorative Massage is ideal for this time of year. Deep tissue massage is better suited to the Spring months.
Living in harmony with your body and nature makes a huge difference to your health and mental well-being. Even if you did the minimum suggested here, you will reap the benefits for years to come.