Fall is Vata Time – return to nourishment of self

by Jill Sockman

I got my first whiff of Fall about two weeks ago. It wasn’t even cool outside, the air didn’t hold the crisp and dry quality that will come in a couple of short months, but it was Change — no doubt about it. It’s an unmistakeable phenomena that happens to me twice per year: both the coming of Fall at the end of a long, hot summer, and the first notion of Spring when we near the end of the dark, cold winter months. This ephemeral, intangible note in the air was the first message the summer is coming to an end, it’s time to get back to work, and most importantly, it’s time to return to deep nourishment of self.

autumn-leaves-blowingIn Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga, we are taught that each of us is a combination of the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Depending on your parents, time and place of birth, karma, and a myriad of other contributing factors, you arrive on this planet with a particular combination of those elements — your dosha — Kapha, Pitta, Vata, in some combination. It’s called your Ayurvedic constitution, and it can be very informative in terms of your habits, what’s helpful and unhelpful to you, and what food, schedule, and type of exercise is your best medicine for optimal well-being.

Regardless of your dosha, Fall time is Vata Time. Which means it’s the time when Vata is most likely to be out of whack for all of us. And when Vata is out of balance, it can feel like everything is out of balance. Personally, I’m a VK (Vata Kapha), and even though it’s warm and humid outside, there’s a part of me that knows Fall is approaching. And like any good “Vata personality,” I’m gearing up by eating irregularly, sleeping poorly, exercising too much, and generally spinning, spinning, spinning — all the while getting very precious little accomplished. (All falling under the “not helpful” category, in case that all sounds too familiar.)

For once, I’m grabbing the bull by the horns before it’s too late, and I actually become untethered from the planet. Do less. Rest more. And implement some pretty simple Rules of Engagement for the Vata Battle ahead:

  • No blue screens before bed. And I don’t mean five minutes. Ideally two hours.
  • Lights out no later than 10pm and up by 6am
  • Significant reduction in raw foods, increasing warm, cooked, easy to digest nourishing meals, on a regular schedule, every day
  • Returning to daily sesame oil massage
  • Moderation in exercise, and twice-daily meditation with balancing pranayama techniques.

For me, one part of this preparation includes an Ayurvedic cleanse, which calls for three days of eating Kitcheri, a simple Indian meal of yellow dahl and rice. You can eat as much as you want whenever you are hungry (without stuffing yourself) as a means to reset the scales, settle the belly and mind, and nourish and cleanse the whole Self. There are endless ways to make Kitcheri, just consult Google-ji for an easy, wholesome and healthy dinner some night.

I hope you’ve had a playful, restful summer. And I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.