Autumn is very much upon us and it is time to ground and balance ‘vata’, the biological humour that dominates movement within our body. If left unsettled too much vata can leave us feeling scatty, anxious and easily upset by trivial events. The windy days of autumn that are gathering strength can induce a sense of feeling exposed, less stable, emotionally and physically. The element of Air is predominant around and within us. The vata winds of change fill us with tremendous possibility and potential but it can also disturb our digestion, nervous system, how relaxed we are and how our body manages its fluid content. Symptoms of arthritis and sciatica can be aggravated and lung and intestinal disorders can manifest. Keeping vata balanced prior to the onset of winter can be beneficial in helping to prevent malaise in your body.
Generally your body is quite efficient and does a good job at maintaining health and eliminating what we don’t need through our digestion but occasionally when it is disrupted and working under par it accumulates harmful toxins, known in Ayurveda as ‘ama’. An autumn detox targeted at pacifying the vata dosha can help prevent ill health and calm down stressy ‘vata’ opening us up to new adventures and contentment.
Take more nourishing warm foods such as soups, casseroles and stews. Favour sweet, sour and salty tastes
Establish a good sleep routine, wake early (set your alarm and get up!) and go to bed at the same time each evening.
Add a little coconut oil to your diet or try a hand massage using coconut oil as your base. Hand massages can help to calm down your nervous system through stimulating the energetic marma points in your hands. It comforts and soothes the erratic and anxious vata nature.
Rub a few drops of Ayurvedic nasya oil to your nasal passages to keep your sinuses moist and lubricated. Perform a cleansing nasal wash with a neti pot as part of your weekly health regime.
Slow down the pace of life, chatter and exercise moderately
Make bhastrika or agni sari part of your pranayama habit to stoke up your internal heat
Keep warm with scarves and hats
Smile and laugh often
Why not also try a seasonal detox for a week? It can help cleanse and nurture your digestive system.
Grains: no bread or pastries. Plain basmatic rice is fine
Beans & pulses: opt for mung beans (green lentils)
Vegetables: enjoy plenty of greens, particularly broccoli, spinach and kale. No mushrooms.
Fruits: Choose sour fruit such as lemon, lime and grapefruit to help with the cleanse
Nuts and seeds: Avoid nuts.
Meat and fish: Take none
Dairy: No dairy or eggs. (Goats milk is an exception)
Oils: Avoid during your detox week
Herbs/Spaces: Take Ayurvedic Triphala to build up your immunity ready for winter
Sweeteners: None except maybe a teaspoon of local honey
Drinks: No tea or coffee except herbal spiced teas such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom or fennel.
An alternative to a week long detox is fasting. It allows the body to kick start its rest, repair and regenerate mode and can be a great way to reduce attachment to a particularly unhealthy food stuff. Fasting leaves us feeling lighter, less congested and re-energised. Apply the principles of Ayurveda to your fast to ensure it meets your specific needs. Work with your most dominant dosha using the following as guidance. If you don’t know your dosha or you are unsure which to follow then try the ‘vata’ fasting ritual first.
FASTING PRINCIPLES ACCORDING TO YOUR MOST DOMINANT DOSHA
VATA: Vata types struggle to go without food. They need the energy so going without food for a long time is not going to be beneficial. For vata types going on a mono fast for a short period of time and including rice and mung bean soup is the way forward
PITTA: Pitta types manage energy well but do tend to build up inflammatory heat toxins. Pitta types will need to rest well and can benefit from a one to three day fast and may include mung bean soup and fruit and vegetable juice (following the appropriate principles of non-sweet flavours)
KAPHA: Kapha types benefit from longer fasts and will do well from fasting in general as they tend to accumulate and store energy and can be overweight. Kapha types can tolerate a diet based on just spicy teas or hot water. A light mung bean soup can be taken during longer fasts.
Please remember to consult a doctor before detoxing or fasting if you have any health condition, are pregnant, or have any concerns. He/she will advise you on whether it is safe for you to follow a detox or fasting plan.
Have fun x