The first snowfall of the season came suddenly. It was beautiful and quiet and soft. When late fall/early winter first knocks on our door, almost all of us will feel a strong internal shift. An innate call for change that says “Time to slow down, stay warm, and take naps”.
That first snow has all but melted, and Toronto didn’t see much of it. So like a white ghost - it’s here one day and gone the next. But this new season is here, and it’s here for the long haul. Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, calls this time of year “Vata season”.
Ayurveda (Sanskrit for “science of life”) is an ancient system, which has been practiced in India for more than 5000 years. Today, it's widely recognized as an effective medicinal science and is becoming more and more prevalent in the West, even being recognized by the World Health Organization.
According to Ayurveda, health is defined as a state of balance between mind, body and environment. It is believed that each one of us has a unique mix of three mind and body principles, thus creating completely unique mental and physical landscapes. These three main principles are called Doshas.
Vata (space & air)
Kapha (earth & water)
Pitta (fire & water)
Everyone has a doshic fingerprint. To find yours check out my old article for Slice.ca called "Finding your dosha". Depending on your dosha, you will experience Vata season in different ways. Ayurveda operates on the principles that like increases like. So if you’re tendencies are a Vata type already, take extra care to bring your mind and body back into balance.
SIGNS OF IMBALANCE:
In the mind:
Vata season can make you feel mentally ungrounded, spacey (like its key element), anxious, disorganized and scattered.
In the body:
Movements become sharp, sudden and staccato like. Constipation, cracking joints, stiffness, pain, dryness of the membranes (eyes, nose and skin), and lack of appetite are evident.
Routine: Regularity and routine are key. Try going to bed and getting up around the same time every day. Eat meals on a regular schedule. Plan time each day for a physical exercise, rest and relaxation.
Meditation: But not just any meditation. Practicing mantra meditation can help still the mad monkey mind, which is particularly jumpy during Vata season (and in Vata dosha types).
Follow a Vata pacifying diet: Warm slow cooked meals, lots of root vegetables, avoid raw foods (unless you’re raw food committed). Drink warm, hydrating liquids like herbal teas (try making your own ginger tea from freshly ground ginger), and avoid caffeine.
Vata is pacified by heat. So a yoga practice that builds your internal heat is a great way to bring some balance into the body. Think Sun Salutations, like in a Vinyasa class. Be mindful of the Ayurvedic like increases like principle. Avoid frantic, fast or rigid movement and focus instead on grounding and fluid postures in your practice.
For those of you who have a strong dosha in the Kapha or Pitta elements, take good care not to aggravate your already dominant inner force by overdoing the grounding & heat building suggestions. In the end, we’re all unique and an ayurvedic diet/lifestyle that’s tailored to you is always best practice. For more on how to integrate this life balancing system into your day to day, talk to an ayurvedic doctor or therapist. Stay warm, friends!