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.
Autumn Detox and Lifestyle Guidelines to balance and re-energize you in time for the Festive Season…
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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. All these qualities provoke Vata dosha (the space and air elements), so naturally autumn revolves around pacifying Vata.
Diet and herbs play an important part of the Autumn Vata rebalancing guidelines. This is known as ama pachana. Ama refers to the partially digested food in the GI tract due to poor digestion which has turned into a sticky, toxic, foul-smelling substance that is difficult to eliminate. You can tell whether you have ama by having a look at your tongue in the mirror. If it has a white coating, especially near the back, then you have ama. Pachana means to digest, burn, or neutralize ama. Pachana is done by using certain herbs and spices, such as trikatu, cinnamon, lemon, ginger, black pepper, cumin, coriander, and fennel. Pachana substances burn ama directly without the help of digestion, which is good especially if you have impaired digestion. During Autumn, because of the light, mobile and clear qualities of Vata, the toxins move more freely around the GI tract which makes them easier to eliminate.
A simple, personalised ama pachana (detox plan) can be drawn up for you after a Consultation which includes a massage and herbs. The detox can last a weekend, a week or more. Even a day can make a difference to your health. With so much conflicting advice out there, it is always best to seek the guidance of an experienced practitioner before taking herbal supplements or changing your diet. It is best to work with your body and eat the foods that suit your body type. A practitioner will be able to read your pulse and tongue and give you advice on eating and living in harmony with your body and how to balance and heal holistically. It is different for everyone.
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.
Before showering, spend a few minutes massaging warm sesame oil into your body from head to toe. Sesame oil is warming and heavy and will help to balance Vata.
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, those with a Vata constitution are especially affected by Vata and to counter that, 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 Vata increasing 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. Why not book a package of 3 or 4 treatments and receive a discount.
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.