Fall is among us! I love this time of year when the leaves start to change and the air is cooler. For some, it means the excitement of winter and skiing. While for others it is a time of wishing the days were longer, reflecting upon the fun summer days. Either way, fall signals a time of transition.
In times of transition it is hard to feel relaxed and we often become stressed. It is not uncommon to have our personal self care routine stop or become diminished in times of stress. Whether we realize it or not, the transition of the weather can have a large impact on our minds and bodies.
Last blog I introduced the basics of Ayurveda and how to discover your dosha. As we move into fall here in Utah, we move from a pitta (fire) season to a vata season (air). It is important to take care of our bodies as we move through this transition. Here are seven simple things to keep in mind or to add to your self care routine that will help ease the way into winter.
1. Dress Warm: the temperature in the fall has a wide range of degrees. Utah is well known for being sunny one minute and freezing the next. It can also be very windy with no warning. Keeping the body warm and out of the wind will help you to stay grounded. If you are outside, keep a hat and jacket with you at all times. Avoid getting cold.
2. Oil the Body: It is recommended to oil your body daily with warm oils. I find that I don’t have time to do this every day but if I can get in 2-3 times a week, it really helps me stay nourished. It keeps my skin from drying out and soothes my body. This technique is called abhyanga. Depending on your dosha and the time of year, the type of oil used changes. If you have more questions on what type of oil you should use, contact me. Very simply, as we move into the cooler weather, warmer oils should be used. Organic, raw, sesame oil is often a great choice for most people this time of year. Warm about ½ cup oil and apply generously to your whole body. I do this in the shower before I bathe. Begin at the extremities working toward the center of your body. Massage the body for 5-15 minutes with love and nourishment. Take your shower as regular but with no body soap and towel dry like regular when done.
3. Eat Cooked Foods: Meals should be cooked and nutrient dense. Warm oatmeal or quinoa with spices is a great way to start the day. Start to cut out raw and dry foods in your diet such as salads, raw smoothies, dried crackers and fruit. Water should be room temperature or warmer. Start to eat more oils and ghee with each meal. As always monitor your sugar and caffeine intake. There are many more food suggestions that are way to complex for this blog but please contact me with questions.
4. Incorporate Warming Spices: Like increases like meaning if you want to warm your body, eat warm spices. Start to incorporate ginger, cloves, pepper, cinnamon and cumin. Warming teas throughout the day is a great way to include these spices into your diet. Warming is different than hot, so being careful to avoid hot spices such as cayenne pepper. Rose and tulsi teas can be calming for the central nervous system. A great tea called CCF (cumin, coriander, fennel) is also calming for the system and can help when eaten after meals for those of you with gas and bloating. It can also be a diuretic, so keep that in mind, paying close attention to your bowels for any changes for signs that you have had too much!
5. Exercises that Grounds the Body: Any exercises that makes you breath extra hard increases vata (air) into the body. I am not saying don’t exercise as exercise is a great tool for stress relief, keeps the body in shape, and helps counter diseases. But, if you feel tired, sluggish, frazzled, or nervous think about choosing a different exercise for that day. Think about supporting and nourishing the body and doing something that is gentle and calm. Restorative yoga, tai chi, or walking are great ways to still get exercise without depleting the body.
6. Routine: the body likes routine but it is often hard to do. Try to stick to a daily routine with regular times for waking, eating, working, exercise and sleep. When we have routine our bodies stress less and our nervous system can go into auto-pilot mode.
7. Meditate: Last but not least, meditate, meditate, meditate. When our external world is stressful, changing, and in transition this is the best time to sit with the internal self. “The goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts or emotions. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to move through them without getting stuck.” Meditation provides time sitting in silence, removed from the external world, with just our breath. It is a time to become an observer of our thoughts and emotions with no judgments. It is through a daily meditation practice that I am able to confidently handle any changes that come my way. My past blogs talk about how to get started but you can also contact me if you are interested in starting a daily practice or start by attending my weekly class.
In short, think about routine, nourishment, warmth, and grounding. Check in with the physical and emotional body daily. Check in with the changing weather and observe how this can affect your body. Give your body what it needs each day to feel supported, grounded, and warm. As you incorporate these simple techniques see if you feel any different this fall as compared to last fall. Contact me with questions or more information at any time and happy fall!