AN AYURVEDIC APPROACH TO SEASONAL CHANGE
Ayurveda is a holistic health system that originated in India over 5000 years ago. Ayurvedic Science is based around three energies known as Doshas that are present in our internal and external world. From the moment of birth they define our unique characteristics and tendencies and are our life-long Body-type or Constitution. They are responsible for all physiological and psychological functions within us.
The Doshas are composed of the 5 elements: Space, air, fire, water and earth and fluctuate in response to environmental cues such as diet, lifestyle, season and weather. Each season is associated with a Dosha due to the predominance of the elements and qualities expressed in nature during the season.
With biological changes that occur in response to our environment, seasonal change has been observed as one of the leading causes of imbalance in a person.
Autumn is associated with Vata due to the predominance of space and air elements and qualities of mobile, cool, light, dry and rough. When we observe wind we can see it is light, cool and mobile and if we consider the effect wind has on clothing on the clothes line, they become dry and mobile as they flap around under the influence of the wind. The leaves dry, turn brown and fall from the trees. With this in mind, consider what kind of effect irregularity, dryness, coolness and lightness might have on the body. Our usual functions such as elimination may become irregular and so too might our habits, our skin may begin to dry and our peripheries may become cool. When these early signs of imbalance start appearing, we have an opportunity to counterbalance the effects before they become disease.
In Western medicine there are two stages of disease: Manifestation and differential diagnosis. At these two stages, disease can be untreatable or require lengthy periods on medication. What makes Ayurveda so unique is that it recognizes 6 stages of disease. At each stage we can identify and treat the imbalance before it progresses.
As Autumn approaches and the qualities we observe in nature increase within our bodies, we might start to feel a little out of balance. Are you aware of your natural rhythms and cycles? Once we can cultivate self-awareness and become tuned in to our natural rhythms, we can begin to take control of our health and well-being. Adjusting your diet and daily routine to the flow of nature is an effective way of preventing disease and maintaining balance.
Written by Emma Burrell
YOUR GUIDE TO STAYING BALANCED OVER AUTUMN
Ensure meals are warm and cooked. During Autumn our digestion can be variable. Food that is warm and cooked is easy to digest. Replace the raw foods and salads with warm vegetable salads, soups, stews and easy to digest protein. Swap cold muesli and milk for warm, sweetened porridge. Sip on warm or room temperature water or herbal teas throughout the day. Click here for my favorite cookbook from the Mudita Institute which focuses on creating a "warm" kitchen.
Implement consistency and routine. Establish regular times for eating, sleeping and work/study to counterbalance the irregular nature of Vata. Avoid skipping meals.
Increase oileation to counter the dryness internally and externally.
Internally: Ensure you are adding a good source of oil to cooking such as ghee, rice bran oil or coconut oil. Click here for information about the proven health effects of ghee.
Externally: With abhyanga/self-massage which is important all year round but especially in Autumn to counterbalance dry skin, cold hands and feet and any aches and pains.
Click here for more information on how to do self-massage at home.
Incorporate grounding. This is to off-set the light, mobile, irregular nature of Vata. Suggestions: Less socializing and partying, Yoga Asana, meditation, reading, journaling or a bed-time routine.
Eat a seasonal diet that balances Vata
Foods to incorporate: Cooked apples and pears, avocado, banana, beetroot, strawberries, carrot, corn, dates, fig, grapefruit, grapes, leek, lemon, limes, mango, cooked onion and garlic, oranges and mandarins, coriander, papaya, peaches and plums (early Autumn), pumpkin (late Autumn), raspberries, rhubarb, sweet potato, parsnip, tomatoes, light/easy to digest forms of protein including grains (barley, oats, rice, buckwheat, quinoa and wheat), soya beans/tofu and mung beans (good all year round), sultanas/raisins and soaked and peeled almonds. Incorporate warming kitchen spices into cooking: Cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cumin, asafoetida (hing), mustard seeds, turmeric, black pepper, black salt.
Note: The following foods may cause an increase in Vata type symptoms such as gas and bloating: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dried fruit, sprouts, potatoes and leafy greens and should be eaten in moderation if you are suffering from these symptoms. When eating legumes, ensure that they are washed and soaked, as well as adequately spiced and oiled to minimize Vata aggravation.
Foods to avoid: Dry and rough foods such as corn chips, biscuits, popcorn, millet and rye (in excess), raw and cold foods (including salads), cold and carbonated drinks, cold milk, heavy food at night-time (such as dairy), frozen food, tinned food, microwaved food, muffins and cakes, processed, refined and packaged foods.
Please contact Emma for a consultation to receive specific and tailored advice.
Please note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. If you suffer from serious health concerns this is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Physician/Practitioner with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.