I really love all the seasons; I couldn’t imagine living somewhere without them. That said, like all parents that claim they love their children equally, I do, of course, have a favourite.
And ladies and gentlemen, as you loving throw the Haviannas to the bottom of the wardrobe and begin your journey up the ladder of jumper thickness, I can tell you Autumn is mine.
It always arrives just in time, when I am sick of hair and nail maintenance, my body is whimpering for a break from daily drinking, and I can’t bare any more holiday snaps on social. However, whilst I am love this snuggly transitional season, it does come at a price. My hands seem to age about 50yrs over night; my skin is dry and sensitive; and, despite looking forward to it, it still takes me a good two weeks of cycling in the rain in a t-shirt before I acknowledge what has happened. And my mood can be somewhat…restless – I know, me? Shocking.
But fear not, after doing a little research, apparently there is rhyme and indeed reason to the effects caused by this beautiful season.
Here comes the Ayurveda bit….
(FYI Ayurveda means Science of Life, so that there is actually an incredibly clever pun using a very well know skin and hair care product slogan)
Ayurveda believes there are three primary energies. Whilst most people will have a blend of these energies, there is usually one that is more dominate. The same applies to the seasons. In autumn the most dominate energy is Vata. Now if Vata was in a Marvel comic it would be Magneto; a villain but not totally evil, just a little misunderstood. Vata is composed of the elements of air and space and has the following qualities: cold, dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular, and restlessness – sounds like a hoot right?
With vata dominating in autumn our bodies and minds can become out of balance and overwhelmed. During this time of year, have you ever noticed that you feel unsettled or a bit anxious or that your bones may ache more than usual, or that you have trouble sleeping? And for the yogis out there, have your noticed your balance is off in poses? That your weight may have shifted further forwards? This is all down to Vata making us restless and ready to run.
Now while we may not be able to change our Villian, we can adapt our lifestyles to counteract their impact. And like all good superheros, we do this by using yoga and diet.
During autumn, we try to use yoga to calm the chaos around us; less invigorating sequences and more R’n’R. Creating a clear routine for your practice (same time, same length, same place etc) helps to avoid the unnecessary stress of decision making. Also allowing a longer relaxation at the end of your practice helps kick that chaos, a.k.a Magneto, in to touch.
Here are some lovely poses for Autumn and their benefits:
Standing forward bend: Relaxes the mind and nervous system.
Tree: Balance and grounding.
Eagle: Balance and cleansing the large intestine -associated with Vata.
Warrior II: Balance and calms the mind
Sun Salutations: Warms the body as the mornings become chilly.
Food and lifestyle
Routine Routine Routine. That is key in this unbalancing season. So as with your yoga practice, try to create a routine with your eating habits and with your lifestyle. And now is the perfect time for routine as we are in between the hedonistic summer and the Christmas season – when lets face it, routine doesn’t stand a chance.
Try to avoid skipping meals and sporadic grazing.
Eat lots of warm stuff! Soups, cooked veg etc. Avoid raw and cold foods like salads.
Drink warm tea of fresh ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. These are great all year but in this season they really help to warm the body and enhance circulation and digestion.
Sweet, salty and sour tastes are calming to vata.
Live like a farmer: lights out for bed at 10:00 p.m and awake when the sun rises.
Get some freakin exercise - and again try to make a routine therefore you avoid the guilt of indecision and inaction.
Enjoy the silence. Try not to fill each minute with chatter or phones or stimulation. The body benefits from movement but the mind benefits from being still.
Moisturise. Not only is this good for the skin, it can also become a nice little mindful routine.
Those of you coming to a Mindful Fitness Yoga class next week, be prepared for a lovely balancing session leaving you feeling in control and ready to fight any villains that cross your path.