Autumn always feels like a storm, powerful and graceful. Its wind can give us clarity or make us lost and confused in thousands of useless and stressful thoughts. And it invariably changing, day by day, hours by hours. One of the crazy power of Vata and its Air element. Everything is moving, shifting, never resting, making us energy less and tired.
At fall, all nature is in transition to prepare for the winter. The days become shorter. The bright light that uses to shine into the sky during the summer is now returning to the ground, in the glowing leaves of the trees that litter the ground like a brick road to another OZ country. Associated with the teasing wind, the climate plays tricks, alternating hot and cold days, rain and fine weather. An instability in the image of our mental agitation.
As temperatures diminish, our gaze shifts to the earth that stored the summer heat; it is the season for harvesting apples, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, mushrooms, squashes ... The attention is directed towards inside in conscious reflections, like internal lights to help us to leave behind what does not serve us anymore and to set new goals.
By these attributes (cold, dry, light, changing ...), autumn is the classic vata season, governed by the energy of change. However, depending on our geography situation, the dry and changing qualities of vata may also have appeared earlier in the summer. In the early autumn, the vata accumulates and is provoked causing typical imbalances such as: constipation, joint pain, gas, sciatica, dry skin, emotional instability ... As the wind is good at reviving the flames, Pitta accumulated from summer may also come out at this time in the form of skin problems or migraines. End of Autumn, it will be the turn of the Kapha to accumulate. The organs to be regulated at this season are the colon, the ears, the skin, the joints, the lungs.
5 Good Ayurvedic reflexes for fall
1. Detox at the beginning of the season
Ideal period to refocus after the summer holidays, fall is time to clean our excretory organs to prepare for the winter. How? With a mono-diet. However, beware of extremes which increase vata! 3 days are enough! But it takes as much time before and after to slowly rehabilitate the body to heavier foods. Best: promote a simple diet based on cooked and spiced bitter vegetables (soup or steamed sautés), grape / cooked apples / cooked pears, or kichadi (Indian dish mixing cereals, legumes, vegetables and spices). Reduce step by step all heavy food 3 days before (incl meat, dairies, gluten, nuts, sweets...) and re-introduce them slowly over 3/4 days after the detox.
2. Support healthy digestion and elimination
It is the moment to help our transit to avoid the disagreements not so glamorous (gas, bloating, cramps, gurgling ...) of an increased Vata. For that, we use spices. The best for vata are heating, digestive and carminatives such as: cumin, fennel, cardamom, coriander, sage, rosemary, curry, cinnamon, ginger.... Most of the spices being fat soluble, they must first be first fried in a little bit of oil to make them active.
With the drop of temperature that decreases blood flow, our dear colon is slower. It is then subject to frequent imbalances alternating constipation and diarrhea. For constipation, we prefer demulcent herbs (mallow, marshmallow roots, lemon balm ...) in the evening or some triphala at night; for diarrhea, tisanes with astringent plants (strawberry, alchemille, agrimony ...).
3. Focus on heavier foods with sweet, sour and salty flavors
Nutritious foods, fleshier with a soupy texture seem attractive. Their anabolic actions reconstruct the diminished tissues after the summer (especially the skin which is super important to nourrish to isolate from the winter cold). The sour, salty and sweet flavors are heavy and softening to anchor and moisturize the agitated air element. Salty counteracts dryness by helping to preserve liquids. Sour has an emollient action that induces the secretion of digestive juices. Beware of the excess of sour and fermented flavors which may provoke Pitta!
More: Apples (Sweet), Apricots, Avocados, Coconuts, Dates, figs, Grapes, Green and yellow lemons, Mangoes, Oranges, Pineapples, Plums, Quinces, Tamarind, Tangerines, Clementines, Pears
Less: Sour Apples, Bananas, Berries, Cherries, Grapefruits, Kiwis, Papayas, Peaches, Pomegranates, Strawberries, Watermelons
More: Artichokes, Asparagus, BokChoy, Cooked carrots, Green beans, Watercress, Gombos, Parsnips, Rutabagas, Courgettes, Sweet potatoes, Winter squash
Less: Mushrooms, Jerusalem artichokes, Choufleur, Tomatoes, Turnips, Eggplants, Carrots , Cabbages, Radishes
CEREALS & LEGUMES
More: Brown Rice Short Rice Oats Wheat Quinoa Barley Azukis Beans Mungo Urad Dhals Chickpeas Lentils
Less: Rye Millet Buckwheat Amaranth Rice Long Bulgur Beans (all) Peas broken
More: Unsalted butter, Cow's milk, Goat's milk, Ghee, Yoghurts, Fresh cheeses
Less: Anything that is too cold, salty or fermented: aged cheese, cream, salted butter, ice-cream
HERBES & SPICES
More: Cinnamon, Cumin, Ginger, Cardamom, Curcuma, Garlic, Oregano, Paprika, Parsley, Anise, Coriander, Mustard, Asafoetida, Saffron, Clove, Fennel, Mint, Dill
Less: Excess of pungent and heating! Cayenne pepper, Raw garlic, Mace, Marjoram, Raw onions, very strong curry
More: Grated coconut, white sesame, Toasted sunflower seeds, Poppy seeds, Blanched almonds
Less: Cashew Too much oilseed will be too dense to digest at this season, a source of indigestion and toxins.
4. Boost circulation
At fall, our skin loses much of its luster. Indeed, due to the vasoconstriction, the vitality of the skin decreases. When the temperature drops, our body protects itself against heat loss by reducing blood flow to the skin, arms and legs. The trees experience something similar: when the weather becomes cold, they draw their sap in their heart, their roots. This is why it is so good to consume roots in the autumn: tubers in our plates and roots in our herbal teas!
Massage the whole body with heating and tonic oils (sesame oil, essential oils of cypress / basil / tarragon / cinnamon) before showering in the evening, then shower with hot water.
Drink hot lemon ginger honey in the morning.
Add a pinch of turmeric in the dishes to keep the circulation.
5. Take care of your joints
In the fall, joint pain tends to come out. In Ayurveda, the bones are directly related to the colon. The best thing is to massage the painful zone with vegetal oil and chamomile and camphor essential oils. To calm the vata, you should limit alcohol and caffeine and drink anti-inflammatory herbal tea such as white willow bark. Birch bark, blackcurrant leaves, chamomile matricaria ... It is also important to eat more minerals by adding nettle gomasio (it is a delicious topping!).