Ayurveda in Autumn
‘Autumn is a reminder that while the leaves die and fall, there will always be Spring, a chance to replenish and be reborn. We all have the opportunity to replenish ourselves, to be reborn.’
Tao Porchon-Lynch (94-year-old yogi)
In Ayurveda, Sharad (Autumn) is a season very much connected to movement. it is closely related to the Vāta dosha, and just as Autumn signifies the emergence of Vata, so too do our menopausal years, being a time of great fluctuation in the doshas, especially Vata.
The Wise Woman
As regular readers will know autumn reigns supreme - to me anyway. I love this time of year for many reasons - see my previous post here on the season's connection with women during our middle years. The following few lines are taken from my last book Your Middle Years written in association with dietitian Paula Mee:
'IN Ayurveda, ageing is associated with the loss of life’s juice, literally and figuratively. As the body shrinks with age, the mind goes fuzzy, joints dry out and muscles lose tone. Vata is ruled by ether (space) and the air elements, so this vata dominant stage is characterised by an overall drying out in the woman’s body – the thinning of hair, nails, skin and some internal organs. Other indicators include sleeping difficulties, low energy levels and intense feelings of heat in the face and upper body, accompanied by an increased heart rate, dizziness, headache, weakness or anxiety.'
All body types are vulnerable to Vata imbalance during autumn and winter, but Vata types should be particularly vigilant about staying in balance during these months that are typically the season of sore throats, colds and flu - unless preventative actions are taken to keep the body strong and in balance.
Essential Āyurveda is the UK's leading Ayurvedic retreat centre tucked away in a relaxed 400-year old farmhouse in the heart of the Lincolnshire countryside. Here expert Ayurvedic practitioners Andy and Laura Shakeshaft offer bespoke Ayurvedic retreats lasting 3, 5 or 7 days with peace and personalized attention coming guaranteed, as will genuine ayurvedic therapies and the opportunity to rebalance and enrich both body and mind.
Autumn tips from the experts
The following are Andy's tips for reducing dryness, fatigue and overly busy minds generally associated with autumn's cooling season:
On cooler days try to choose warm, nourishing foods that are both satisfying and grounding. On days that feel warmer, increase the intake of bitter / astringent vegetables or light tasty soups.
Try implementing some simple cleanses, these can be something as simple as a short kitchari fast, or making your meals primarily seasonal fruits and vegetables together with a light grain or quinoa (for a couple of days only).
Green Smoothies help clear accumulated heat as well as providing a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants.
Herbal teas drunk regularly can help dispel dryness from the body, while also flushing the eliminatory channels (such as the kidneys) and soothing a restless mind. Two of our favourites for autumn are Vata tea and Detox Tea. Both great tasting, organic herb blends that contain data reducing herbs such as licorice, ginger and cinnamon.
Simply getting to bed earlier during Vāta season helps further balance in the body. Darker evenings promote melatonin production regulating sleep/wake cycles. Minimize the stimulating white light from computer screens etc. before bed.
Abhyangha, or self massage using a combination of grounding massage and warm Ayurvedic oils is excellent for rebalancing the body's vāta.
Ashwagandha is autumn's super herb! It is a nourishing Rasāyana herb that is energising without being over-stimulating and so really supports healthy Vāta. Useful formulas containing Ashwagandha are Stresscalm - helps relax the nervous system and calm busy minds; Shatavari and Ashwagandha formula - supports women’s vitality and Ashwagandha formula for men.
Triphala is well known for its cleansing and detox properties but it is also an excellent tonic and rejuvenate formula, especially to the bowel and digestive system. Its Rasāyana properties are partly due to is post digestive sweetness, which is one of the reasons it is fine to take as a supplement long term.