Autumn and your Vata Ayurvedic yoga practice
Autumn is a transitional time between summer and winter that should be approached delicately. The days become shorter, the rhythm shifts, the light and heat of summer subside. We move towards something more mellow and soft, which encourages us to look within and reflect. Creating a slower internal rhythm for Autumn is essential for staying healthy and balanced during the colder months of the year. If you align with nature by pulling your energy inward, you can expel summer’s heat and prevent Autumn’s excess wind from accumulating. To protect your health during Autumn, Ayurvedic health educators say it’s important to slow down.
Vata is the dosha linked to Autumn in Ayurvedic terms. Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga, it is the traditional Indian medical lifestyle system. The word ‘Ayurveda’ translates as the “science of life”. The wisdom of Ayurveda is about finding a way of life that flows with the changes of the seasons, weather, time and place. As a rule, we are a combination of doshas but it is likely there will be a dominant one.
VATA types tend to be thin and lanky. They are very mentally and physically active and enjoy creative endeavors, meeting new people, and traveling to new places. When they are balanced, vatas are flexible, have lively imaginations, and are original thinkers. When imbalanced they can get anxious, ungrounded, and can seem “flaky” about fulfilling commitments, sticking to a routine, and completing projects. They tend to run cold and dry and enjoy warm, humid weather. It’s common for vata types to experience cold hands and feet, constipation, dry skin, and cracking joints. The influence of the air element in their constitution causes their energy, mood, and appetite to fluctuate dramatically. For this reason vata types often fail to eat and sleep regularly, swinging from eating heavy foods to ground and sedate themselves, or ingesting stimulants like coffee and sugar to sustain intense physical or mental activity. Insomnia and low immunity are very common problem for the sensitive vata person.
In relation to your yoga practice – Autumn’s erratic ‘winds of change’ caused by a predominant Vata Air element in Autumn will create lightness, dryness, and coolness. It will tend to aggravate you if you are predominantly Vata dosha. This dosha also affects the lungs, large intestine, and top of the back and shoulders. Vata also regulates the nervous system and how relaxed you feel. So breath becomes a key element of an Autumn practice.
Your yoga practice should take all these considerations of Vata into account and encourage the energy of groundedness and inner awareness of this season. Breath and slow movement should be a key focus to keep the mind and body clear, strong and relaxed, releasing anything that you do not wish to carry forward. In terms of your yoga practice you need to ground from your feet up and connect to the earth so focus on strong standing postures and holding postures a little longer than usual. Yoga asanas (postures) should focus on body areas that hold and store excess: outer hips, side waist, back of thighs. The energy channels can be activated through upper back bends and arm/shoulder opening postures to encourage letting go on the physical and mental/emotional levels. Restorative postures held for longer and with focus should be used to relax the nervous system, the mind and to help settle the body to bring you into a state of receptivity that’s perfect for the season.
So get strong, stay warm, grounded, balanced and relaxed to enter the colder month with ease and grace.
“Now day and night are of equal length.
Light and dark are perfectly balanced, before we tip into the dark phase of the year.
Explore balance in your yoga practice”