This weekend we celebrated the autumnal equinox. The time when the Earth's axis is turned neither towards or away from the center of the sun. It is that ephemeral instant of time when we hang in balance, neither moving toward or away from anything. And after that suspended second, we continue on our path towards the dark phase of the year.
As we transition, it is important to shift our diet and lifestyles to stay in harmony with these changes - to stay in our own unique point of balance for longer than that short, suspended instance. It's easy to do if we create a little bit of mindfulness and set our systems in place.
During the fall, temperatures vary dramatically. Here in the mountains, the days can start in the 40's and go up into the 80's. One day it is hot, the next cool. In Wisconsin, they just got snow...on the green grass!! If we can say one thing about this season, it's that it is unpredictable.
In Ayurveda, this is considered Vata time - the element of air and ether. When you think about it, this makes sense, Air is mobile, changeable, fast, cool, and dry. If Vata takes root, we'll start to feel worried, anxious, scattered, and ungrounded. Colds & flus also often come from Vata Season. So, to stay balanced, it is important to incorporate stable, warm and soothing qualities into our diets and lifestyles.
Here are a few things to consider to stay in better health this season:
BREAKFAST: Start the day with warm whole-grains. Congee is a preferred option. Cook soaked grains - either brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth or other grains of your choice alone or in combination - with an abundance of water in a crock pot overnight (1 cup grain to 6 cups water). Spice with cinnamon, fruits or nuts, and sweeten with honey or maple syrup as you wish. Enjoy an easy, grounding, wholesome morning meal.
OIL: Keep the skin well lubricated to balance the drying winds. RAW seasame oil, applied liberally to the skin either 5 minutes prior to, or immediately after a shower, will do wonders to soothe both body and mind. (Avoid toasted oil or you'll end up smelling like a restaurant...a rather unpleasant experience!)
REST: Make sure you take time to nourish yourself with soothing activities - baths, books, yoga nidra/relaxation techniques or anything that brings a slower focus and enjoyment to your day will keep your system in balance.
STAY WARM: In Chinese Medicine, they say that an ill wind (i.e. certain sicknesses) can enter through the back of the neck this time of year. As the days start to cool off, make sure you wear layers of clothes to keep you warm and protected from the Vata Winds. You may even consider heeding the advice of the ancient Chinese healers and wear a scarf!
HERBS: Now is the time to add certain immune building herbs to your diet. Astragalus and elderberry are great alleys this time of year, and both can be added to your morning Congee or taken as a tincture. Another great immune builder, though probably not as appetizing for breakfast, is garlic elixer. It has been used for centuries to ward off viruses as well as vampires and taken daily will build the immune system.
DINNER: Warm stocks and stews made with seasonal vegetables such as squash and potatoes will help keep the earth element alive balancing out the fall season. There is wisdom to eating locally, as what is in season is often the food that balances the ill effects of the season. Stews are warming and their long cooking times creates easy digestion.
YOGA: Either upon waking or before going to bed, hold a few forward folds for at least 2 minutes each. Combine with a breath where the exhale that is twice as long as the inhale. This will have a grounding and calming effect that soothes and calms the chaotic nature of the fall season. Some poses to consider include seated forward fold (pashimottanasana), child's pose (balasana), standing forward fold (uttanasana), head-to-knee pose (janu sirsasana), Cobbler's pose (baddhakonasana) or any other forward folds you prefer (see below).
The Key is to stay grounded. Incorporate these or other easy, small changes into your day, and see how these small measures of daily self-care will add up to keep you well nourished and moving through the season with health and vitality.
Note: Below are a couple of Forward Folds for Vata Season. Please be steady and stable in the posture, allowing it to feel nourishing and relaxing even while engaged. Always seek the wisdom of a certified yoga instructor if the pose does not feel good in your body. To find out more contact Jacquleyn at www.TheAlchemyofTransformation.com