The three doshas, or energy types, that we all have inside of us in different amounts—vata, pitta, and kapha—are also connected to the seasons. Vata is a cold, dry, light, rough, and windy energy. It makes us want to try new things, create fresh habits, and make shifts in our lives. Vata has an airy nature and strong connection with our minds. That quality can show up as anxiety and depression in the cooler months, which is why it’s especially important to stay balanced during this seasonal transition.
Fall’s energy can be like a torrent of wind if you don’t ground your body and mind. So as the temperatures drop, take all the energy you’ve cultivated in the summer and turn it into aligned action. Use the creative and fast-moving, flowing energy of vata without letting it overwhelm you. Tune in to nourishing foods, self-care rituals with warming oils, and grounding yoga poses and meditations to help navigate this shift and cultivate equilibrium. These seven tips will help you transition seamlessly into vata season.
Drink hot water with cinnamon
Warm liquids increase blood circulation in your gastrointestinal system, stimulating your agni (digestive fire). Cinnamon is a warming spice that can help promote equilibrium. Use high-quality, natural Ceylon cinnamon from a brand you trust. (Be sure to buy Ceylon cinnamon—the Cassia variety is less sweet and contains coumarin, a compound that can be harmful in high doses.)
Oil-pull with sesame oil
Put a tablespoon of sesame oil in your mouth and swish it around for at least five minutes daily, working your way up to 20 minutes. Sesame oil is warming and nourishing—often what your body needs at this time. In Ayurveda, oil pulling is thought to pull out toxins from your mouth and gums, improving overall bodily health. Bonus: A study also observed that oil pulling resulted in a decrease in plaque and bacterial counts in the mouth.
Avoid cold foods and iced drinks
Crisp salads, raw foods, and cold beverages make you cold from within. They also prevent your digestive system from working efficiently, making you more prone to bloating, gas, and constipation. If you make a smoothie, use refrigerated fruit, not frozen fruit or ice. Add warming ingredients like ginger and cinnamon, plus avocado or coconut butter for extra fat.
Eat warm, cooked meals
Dishes that are warm, moist, and well-cooked (think: curries, pumpkin soup, steamed greens, spiced quinoa, baked sweet potato, spiced vegetables) balance out the cold, windy qualities of the season. Kitchari, an Ayurvedic comfort food made from rice, dal, spices (turmeric, cumin, coriander, and ginger), and water holds immense nutritional value and is easy to digest. Eat it once a day for three to four days to help reset your system.
Hydrate your nasal passages with nasya oil
During autumn, your sinus cavities become dry and can be prone to chafing and bleeding. Ouch. Drip a few drops of hydrating nasya oil into each nostril before bed. Keep your head tilted slightly backward, so the oil coats as it slides down your nasal passages. This soothing practice can also help ward off headaches, allergies, and nasal congestion.
Give yourself abhyanga
Massaging your body with warm oil hydrates your skin, promotes relaxation, and stimulates your lymphatic drainage system. Choose an oil based on your prominent dosha (sesame oil for vata; coconut or almond for pitta; safflower oil for kapha). Warm your chosen oil in your hands, then, beginning with your arms, rub toward your heart. Next, massage your legs and move up your body again. Dry-brush before your massage to help your skin absorb more of the oil.
Sleep more and set intentional routines
Getting enough rest prepares your body for the upcoming hibernation season of winter. Turn your devices off a half hour before bed, and create a structured morning and evening routine to help you feel more grounded. Before hitting the hay, move through a few grounding yoga poses such as Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), or practice a pranayama such as alternate-nostril breathing. These techniques can help relax your nervous system and your mind, quelling anxiety and centering you in your body.