The change in seasons has a profound effect on our systems. Fall, for many, often seems particularly harsh. Fall is a vata time of year according to Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) and several of the many qualities of vata are the qualities of wind, dark, dry and cold. More than any other season, fall is where I notice a change in me, my students and my clients.
Here in eastern Canada we have yet to see the true fall chill, or the winds, but we have certainly felt the effects of the busy schedule and the effect of rising and having dinner in the dark. We might see the sun if we can get away from our desk during the day. In the fall, we start back to school, and our traditional work schedules fall back into place. We are all well immersed in our volunteer work, activities, sports, family support demands, appointments, work trips, and we crave to fit in some plain old pleasure. The summer is now simply beautiful memories and photos.
Starting in September the family finds itself going all different directions. And while thrilled with the new and interesting activities, the consensus remains that it is darn busy. For many fall is a favourite time of year. It has beauty and the joy of crisp refreshing air, the beautiful colours, cosy sweaters and cups of steaming hot tea. Amidst this joy we find ourselves fighting the effects of so much activity, darkness, winds, and dryness.
I notice these changes in myself. I start to crave soups and I have a natural desire to do more grounding meditations. I have learned over the years to put some things off until later in the fall or winter to distribute the amount of things I am doing. I am slowly learning that “no” and “later” are great words for this season (no, this isn’t my very robust procrastination abilities speaking.) I am busier and I have to find ways not to add on to the controlled chaos.
I see the effects in my students. The meditators seem more anxious, the minds much more unwieldy than in the summer. Many of my yoga therapy clients can be more achy, and restless. Even the clients with the best outlooks can become easily frustrated and overwhelmed. The group classes are just plain chatty. It is a joy to see them all tucked into savasana, warm and balanced after a practice.
Here is where the concepts used in Yoga and Ayurveda can come to our rescue. Ayurveda very much considers taking the seasons into consideration and that our choices can help us balance our system. For our physical practice we can look to have grounding practices – think forward folds, balancing postures and poses like parsvotanasana and grounding a child’s pose and legs up the wall. For breath work consider Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breath and a breath that has the same length of inhale and exhale. These will help with keeping yourself feeling balanced and calm. Remember, inside and out, warm and oily is good. Warm baths, steam and using warm sesame oil on the body will help warm, balance and ground you. With respect to vata soothing foods, think warm proteins and vegetables with fats and spices. At this time of year cooking your vegetables helps with effects of vata. You can get back those crisp salads in the summer.
Instead of fighting your way through the Fall “vata” season, meet it joyfully with some simple tools and techniques from Yoga and Ayurveda.
Kimberly Mantas lives and works out of Ottawa, Canada. She is a Yoga Therapist, Meditation and Hatha Yoga Teacher with Mantas Yoga and loves to hang out at Blue Bamboo Yoga and Beyond Yoga and her health partners. She thinks yoga therapy rocks and is an always curious sort – ever excited when people get to know their bodies and minds better.