Fall is a season for transition and change, a time for deep reflection into our self. Ayurveda offers us tools to help us during this seasonal transition.
Fall is a time to reflect on where we are in life, to shed what doesn’t support us on our path, and to make room for new growth. It’s not a time for burning bridges, or for abrupt change, but a time of deep reflection on how are we doing on our path and are the things/people/activities/etc in our life supporting us? Is the trajectory we are on still the right one or do some things need to shift?
It’s also important to remember that just because something is hard, that doesn’t mean it isn’t supporting us. Life throws challenges at us every day, and in the fall when everything in nature around is literally breaking down, it can be easy to fall into a trap of withdrawing instead of drawing in. When we are challenged, within reason, we can learn more about ourselves and the direction our life is going by taking the time to connect deeper within ourselves.
This is the “seasonal junction” between seasons that falls on a two week period, one week before and week after the equinox or solstice. Depending on where you live, you may only have two seasons, or you may have more than four. You may also have your seasons start before or after the equinox or solstice. For example, if you live in Maine, fall can begin earlier than the solstice. It can be helpful to use the first and last front to determine fall to winter, and winter to spring, but can be a little trickier to determine fall and summer transitions if you live somewhere that doesn’t coordinate with the equinox/solstice. In the eastern US, we have four distinct seasons that fall pretty much on each equinox and solstice.
At each seasonal change, it is important to take stock of what you are doing, where you are going, and how what is coming may affect you. We are all affected by the seasons, time of day, and time of life. This two week period where the seasons overlap offers us the opportunity to really see ourselves and have the opportunity to adjust as needed.
Vata is the main dosha for fall. The five doshas; vata, pitta, kapha, are comprised of the five elements; ether, air, fire, water, earth. Vata is made up of ether and air, and so take on those qualities. Fall has a little heat from the summer and a little cold from the winter, but mostly contains the dry, spacious, dark, cold, expansive, mobile, rigid, hard, and rough qualities of vata and its elements.
We can see these qualities first hand in the fall as the leaves on trees begin to dry out and become rigid and brittle, the wind picks up, the days become shorter and darker.
Ease Into Fall
Here are some Ayurveda tips to support you body, mind, and spirit in a time when all seems to be falling apart.
#1 Get Cozy
Because fall has the cold and mobile qualities, it is the perfect time to get warm and snuggly (I guess that’s a word). Take care to keep your head and ears covered when outside, especially on cold and/or windy days. Dress in cloths to keep you warm, and depending on where you live, dress in layers so you don’t over heat. It is possible for the days in fall to be very warm, and the evenings very cool. Reduce cold drinks and iced beverages to incorporate more room temperature drinks and warm beverages.
#2 Settle In
Creating a routine can be very beneficial, especially during vata season, to keep motivation going and to avoid pitfalls and bad habits. Add a self-care routine you can do easily every day. This can be taking a five minute walk, enjoying 2 minutes of quite time while you enjoy your morning beverage, a regular meditation practice, eating one meal a day with no distraction. Whatever you choose, take the time to do it slowly, mindfully, and quietly.
#3 Spice Things Up
Now is the time to add chilis, hot spices, and heat to your cooking. Something as simple as black pepper will add heat to your food. Because fall is cold, our body is working hard to maintain a warm temperature which can reduce the ability to digest foods well. Adding warming spices helps kickstart and support our digestive fire to better digest foods to support better assimilation of nutrients.
#4 Slow Down
Avoid overscheduling and take the time to be with yourself. Choose activities that keep you focused and create greater self awareness like yoga, meditation, journaling, hike/walk, etc. Get lots of sleep. Most adults need between 7-9 hours to feel fully rested, and you may need more as the days become shorter with less light. Multitasking is a blight on our human nature and allowing time to single task during this time can have tremendous benefit on the adrenal system and may reduce stress.
#5 Stay Nourished
With the wind element dominant in the fall and winter, it really begins to dry things out. You may find you are more susceptible to dry and chapped skin and lips, dry hair and eyes, constipation, cold hands and feet, to name a few. Stay hydrated with room temperature or warm fluids. Eat regular meals and begin to incorporate foods like squashes, root vegetables, soups, and stews.
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Create Greater Wellbeing This Fall
Transitioning from summer to fall can be difficult on our system and our mindset. There are many things we can do to help make the transition a little smoother and easier to cope with.
Suggestions in this article are not meant to be a diagnosis or cure for any health concerns. If you are feeling unwell, please contact your medical provider.