Ayurvedic Tips for the Fall Season
As fall sets in, nature goes through many changes: the air becomes cooler, the leaves fall to the ground and the days are shorter.
Ayurveda teaches us how to adjust our diet and lifestyle habits with each season to promote strong immunity, balanced energy levels and vibrant health.
What elements are at play in the fall?
Fall is Vata Season
Ayurveda teaches us that the fall season is ruled by vata dosha or the elements of air and space.
The positive qualities of vata include creativity, spontaneity, improvisation skills, enthusiasm for life and strong communication skills.
When vata is imbalanced, it can manifest in the body mind in the following ways:
- forgetfulness, lack of concentration
- feeling ungrounded or lack of commitment
- dry skin, hair, lips or nasal passages
- gas, bloating, constipation
- weight loss, frailty or weakness
During the fall, vata dosha increases in all of us; however, those with vata constituions, (as well as the elderly) are at a greater risk of being affected by vata dosha in the fall season.
By understanding vata dosha, ayurveda provides us with a variety of tips to stay balanced for the fall, including diet and self-care.
Ayurvedic Tips for the Fall Season
The Fall Diet:
Fall is the season for home-cooking. Favour warm, cooked foods including dhals, steamed vegetables, grains, soups, and stews. If you eat eggs, cheese or meat, this is one of the best times of year to enjoy them.
Here are a few other recommendations:
- Fruits: Favour fresh, late-summer fruits such as fresh apples and pears, which help balance excess pitta from the summer months. Steamed or stewed fruits, homemade apple sauce, apple crisp and homemade apple pie are all part of your diet.
- Vegetables: Favour root vegetables such as squashes, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, turnips and pumpkin. Try to avoid/reduce raw vegetables, favouring those that are cooked and well-spiced.
- Grains: This is a good time of year to eat wheat, spelt, brown rice, quinoa and oats (e.g. oatmeal).
- Healthy Fats: You may feel great by increasing healthy fats in your diet, such as ground flax seeds, ghee, hemp seeds or yogurt into your diet.
- Drinks: Favour warm or room temperature drinks including homemade chai, ginger tea, tulsi, cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon and other warming spices. You may also enjoy taking warm almond milk or golden milk before bed. Avoid cool fluids which slow the digestive system.
- Fermented: Incorporate small amounts of fermented foods such as miso, kombucha, tamari, sauerkraut or kimchi;
- Reduce/Avoid: Coffee and caffeinated drinks, canned/packaged foods, foods that are cold, dry and light (e.g. iced drinks, raw salads, rice cakes).
Keep a Steady Routine:
One of the easiest and most effective ways to balance vata dosha is through a steady daily routine. This includes keeping a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, exercising, etc. As much as possible, try to turn off electronics by 8 pm and to be in bed by 10 pm to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Starting your morning with a daily spiritual practice — including yoga, pranayama and meditation is one of the most powerful tools you have for keeping the mind and body balanced in any season. (See Practical Awakening for more information)
Use a Humidifier
Keeping a humidifier in your bedroom can be helpful to reduce seasonal dryness.
Self-Care: Warm Oil Massage
The ayurvedic self-care practice called sneha (a full-body oil massage) is grounding, calming and relaxing. It also helps balance vata dosha and to promote harmonious emotions, including reducing anxiety and stress. To do this practice, sit on a towel as you massage your body with warm organic sesame oil. Finish with your regular shower or bath.
Dress for Warmth
The best colours to wear for fall are grounding and stabilizing, including warm reds, yellows, golds, oranges, rich greens and whites. The best choice of jewellery is gold (warming). You can also stay warm under a stylish hat or scarf.
If you enjoy using essential oils, vetiver, geranium, rose, lotus, cinnamon, cedar, frankincense and citrus essential oils are all great for this time of year.
Consider a Fall Cleanse
Fall is one of the best times of the year to do a gentle detoxification program either at home or guided by a local ayurvedic practitioner. A gentle fall detoxification program can make a major difference in how good you feel over the winter months. Options include a 1, 3, 7 or 14 day program.
Have a great fall season!
About the Author
Briya Freeman has been teaching courses in meditation and natural healing since 2011. She is the creator of The Bloom Project, an online course in self-care and radiant living for women.
Briya is a long-term student of Berdhanya Swami Tierra, a female mystic and shaman of South American origin. She also holds studies in ayurveda at Anjali School of Ayurveda (Kerala, India) and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Ottawa.