Change of Seasons Are Reasons to Change
Autumn in Santa Barbara is much more subtle than the ones I experienced when living in Nashville and Michigan. The night air is somewhat cooler and there are more mornings where the marine layer curtains my view of the Channel Islands. Yet the days are still quite warm. I see a few leaves scattered on the sidewalks. However there are no groves of maples and oaks waving arms blanketed in vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows.
Nonetheless, just observing nature, I see summer has released her hold on our fair city. The birch trees at my house are turning golden brown, the Santa Ynez winds feel dryer, and the sunlight is softer to the eyes and skin.
According to Ayurveda, health and well-being is related to the constant interplay of our bodies and minds with external factors. The external environment affects our internal environment. As the seasons and weather change, we must know how to adapt in order to maintain balance in digestion, sleep, immunity, and energy.
Ritucharya : The Seasonal Routine
Ayurveda helps one to live in tune with nature. In Ayurveda, Ritucharya is a seasonal regimen for diet and lifestyle that helps maintain health and well-being. “Ritu” means “season” and “charya” means “routine”. A seasonal routine maintains balance in the three doshas, (vata, pitta, kapha) and harmony and happiness in the body and mind.
When the seasons change, the climate changes, which in turns has a significant effect on our physical and mental body. Seasonal factors like temperature, humidity, wind, rain, and daylight hours, all influence the body’s natural cycles and vital systems. Digestion, elimination, sleep, and emotions can become disturbed. So, in order to maintain balance and health, as the seasons change, so must our daily routine.
Vata Dosha Ritucharya
Autumn is related to the vata dosha. The qualities of the fall season in general are dry, mobile, subtle, light, and cool. In Santa Barbara’s moderate climate, these qualities manifest in a more subtle way than in places like the Northeast or Midwest.
Note: a ritucharya must be designed according to not only the specific season, but to the specific climate in which one lives. An Ayurvedic Practitioner can help design such a daily routine.
Because like increases like, I know I must take extra care of my vata dosha when fall arrives. If not, I am prone to experience dry skin, ear sensitivity, and feelings of being ungrounded. Here are the three things I do to pacify vata dosha during the fall season.
1. Abhyanga. This is a warm oil self-massage. It pacifies the dry, subtle, and cool qualities of vata. Abhyanga nourishes the body and calms the mind. It relieves my dry skin and makes me feel grounded. During the fall season, I give myself an Abhyanga massage 3-4 times a week, in the morning right before I shower. I use a blend of half organic sesame oil and half vata pacifying herbal oil from Maharishi Ayurveda. It only takes a few minutes and the feel-good benefits last all day.
The organic herbs in this moisturizing blend deliver healing benefits to the skin. The senses and nervous system are also calmed through Abhyanga’s aroma therapeutic benefits. Done regularly, it boosts immunity and improves circulation.
Abhyanga is a delightful way to awaken feeling revitalized and nourished.
2. Hing Packets for the Ears. This simple and effective Ayurvedic home remedy helps balance the air element in the ears and pacifies the mobile and dry qualities of vata. My ears are sensitive to the wind. So, I keep a hing packet handy in my purse. Hing (also know as Asafetida) is a spice typically used in bean dishes as an antiflatulent. It lowers excess air, so it helps to balance vata in the ears.
I use ¼ tsp of hing in the middle of a square of toilet paper. I roll and fold the paper into a small packet, and place in my ear. Keeping the ear canal well lubricated also balances vata in the ears. During my Abhyanga massage, I rub oil on my ears, using the little finger to apply some to the inner ear as well.
3. Favor Cooked Meals and Use Vata Pacifying Herbs. The cooler air temperatures of Autumn affect both the cool and subtle qualities of vata in my body and mind. As the temperatures drop, I naturally crave more cooked foods. They warm my body and ground my mind.
I enjoy cooking soups, curries, and kitchari, with generous sprinkles of my favorite vata pacifying herbs. Turmeric, hing, cumin, cardamom, black mustard seeds, marjoram, and trikatu (blend of black pepper, ginger, and indian long pepper) flavor my meals and favor my vata dosha. Also, I enjoy the smells of these herbs as I cook. Listen to some J.J. Cale while sipping a little red wine and you’ll feel the joy of cooking.
An easy way to add some vata balancing herbs to your spice rack is to get the Organic Calming Vata Churnafrom the Maharishi Ayurveda. The herbs in this blend are organic and sustainably harvested.
Fall Into Balance
This fall as you watch the leaves turn color, observe your vata dosha for any changes. Notice if there is an excess of the dry, mobile, subtle, light, and cool qualities in your body and mind. If so, start to follow a Fall Ritucharya and integrate these vata calming suggestions into your daily routine.
Celebrate the crisp clear change in the air and welcome change into your daily self-care. Let me know if I can be of any help creating your Fall Ritucharya.
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.”