Don't get swept away: Balancing Fall's Vata

Before I begin, let me over simplify a 5000 year old tradition into two sentences: In Ayurveda, there are three doshas, or principles, in everything and everyone. Each individual has a specific constitution which is a combination of these doshas, and the goal is to maintain a balance.  

Got it?  Good. 

Autumn is ruled by the dosha known as Vata.  Vata is airy, light, and cold.  The brittle, dry leaves as they fall from the trees are Vata.  The wind sweeping through the streets is Vata. Vata is neither bad nor good, but when we get too much Vata energy we can fall out of balance.  This might manifest itself as issues with the nervous system or digestion, trouble sleeping, or (dum-da-da-dum) stress and anxiety.  You may find yourself swept up in the whirlwind of Vata energy that comes in the fall and perhaps you feel a bit carried away by it.

The best way to combat this trouble is to bring in more of an opposing dosha.  In this case, Kapha is a great balancing force.  Kapha is earthy and heavy.  It is grounded, watery, and stable.  Luckily there are many easy ways to bring more Kapha in your world.

In class, we've been working with grounding through Asana.  Forward folds such as Uttanasana, Upavista Konasana, and Janu Sirsasana allow us to settle into a heaviness and grounded feeling. In stable standing postures like Virabadrasana II, bring your attention to the legs and feet, grounding down through all four corners of each foot and letting the your weight be supported by the earth.  Finally, spending time in seated or supine positions, especially those forward folds or restorative poses like Supta Baddha Konasana can help us feel more connected to the eartha s we literally have more of our body supported by the surface beneath us.  

Looking for a quick way to ground your body and escape any Vata ruled anxiety? Take child's pose and allow the third eye to rest on the ground or a block.  Release any unnecessary tension in the body and feel your hips gently sinking back toward your heals.  Imagine you are mud flowing over a rock or that the pull of the earths gravity was palpable.  Let yourself relax into the floor or ground and feel into the heaviness of your body.

Some other great ways to bring Kapha energies into your fall routine include:

  • Drink warming, earthy teas: I have been creating my own spicy Rooibos Chai this season by adding ginger, tumeric, black pepper, anise, cloves and honey to my cup. But your favorite chai combo will be great
  • Aromatherapy: sweet, warm scents such as sweet orange, ylang ylang, or sandalwood
  • Self Massage using a warming oil like Sesame
  • Pranayama Practices like Nadi Shodhana which help us feel grounded and balanced

Note: I am not a trained Ayurvedic practitioner and all of these thoughts are to be viewed only as suggestions, not rules.  Always do what feels best for your body.