Fall, my favorite season, is a time of transition. The signs are everywhere. Leaves begin to fall, temperatures get crisp, the wind begins to blow. Cool and windy autumn can leave us feeling exposed, raw and vulnerable. The fall season brings with it a predominance of the air element and prana (the vital breath, the subtle essence of life) is abundant in the atmosphere. Autumn’s qualities – dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear – are qualities shared by Vata dosha. In Ayurveda, like increases like, so autumn is considered a Vata season. Following this logic, opposites balance in Ayurveda. Following Ayurvedic practices, if you fill your life with warmth, oiliness, deep nourishment, loving relationships, a sense of stability, routine, and groundedness, the Vata season will be less aggravating.
Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of a Vata imbalance will help you be better prepared to address those immediately with corrective measures. Some symptoms of Vata imbalances include:
|Dry skin, hair & nails||Irregular bowels||Constipation|
|Anxiety & worry||Racing mind||Insomnia & interrupted sleep|
|Cold hands & feet||Sensitivity to loud noises||Dislike of wind & cold|
If you know your dosha, you can address these imbalances with pin-point accuracy. If you don’t know your dosha, some general guidelines include: (Note: You can take a dosha quiz here. While it isn’t as complete as having an ayurvedic consultation, it will give you a good idea of your natural constitution.)
What to Eat During the Vata Season
Your diet is a powerful tool to ensure your optimum health. It is the best, most natural medicine that you can put into your body. During Vata’s cold, dry and erratic weather, substantive, oily, nourishing foods that are high in protein, high in fat, brought to life with warming, use stimulating spices, and served hot, will go a long way toward maintaining your internal reserves of moisture and keeping you grounded. Of the six Ayurvedic tastes, you’ll want to favor sweet, sour, and salty tastes and minimize bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. In general, eat soft, warm foods and garnish them with ghee or oil. Perfect breakfasts for this time of year are cooked grains like oatmeal, tapioca, cream of rice and cream of wheat. Lunches should include steamed vegetables, hearty grains, soups and stews because they are moisturizing and grounding. If you eat meat and eggs, this is the best time of the year to enjoy them. In general, you’ll want to eliminate or greatly reduce eating any raw foods, and cold or frozen foods. It is best to minimize cooling, drying and light foods like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, leafy greens, white potatoes, beans, popcorn, crackers, millet, and dried fruit. If you do have to eat these foods, eat them only in moderation and make sure they are well prepared by soaking them, cooking well, and serving with ghee. Many people find that they tend to increase their food intake during the fall, but be careful to follow the lead of your appetite and digestion. You don’t want to overdo it.
Fruits to Favor
Vegetables to Flavor
Grains to Favor
Legumes to Favor
|Kidney Beans||Mung Beans||Urad Dal|
Nuts and Seeds to Favor
All nuts and seeds are supportive of Vata season.
Dairy to Favor
|Butter||Cream||Milk (not cold)|
Animal Products to Favor
Oils to Favor
|Almond Oil||Olive Oil||Safflower Oil|
|Ghee||Peanut Oil||Sesame Oil|
Sweeteners to Favor
|Honey||Maple Syrup||Rice Syrup|
Spices to Favor
Did you read our first seasonal blog about how the seasons affect you and how Ayurveda can help? Our next blog on the Vata season will focus on a daily routine. Come back to check it out.
About the Author
Rochelle Barcellona is an animal-loving, family-and-friends-embracing, yoga-meditation-and-ayurveda-teaching, happy red-headed yogi who owns Nourish Mind Body & Spirit in Northern California. You may learn more about Rochelle here. Rochelle may be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and 916-353-5200.
(Photo of Rochelle courtesy of Bella Barcellona Photography.)