By Vanessa Fleming, Summersalt Yoga teacher
Ah, September. Where did the summer go?! Stay Grounded As We Transition Into Fall
As time moves and the weather transitions into the cooler temperatures and airiness of fall sweeps in, it’s more important than ever to understand the qualities of Dosha Vata, and all that it brings?
What is the “Dosha Vata?”
In Ayurveda, or the science behind the art of yoga, the are 3 qualities of energy that rule our bodies as well as the nature surrounding us, called Doshas. The 3 energies are Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Each person has a dominant Dosha. (Find out what yours is here.)
Those same qualities are found in the seasons. Kapha is wet and heavy and is linked to Winter / Early Spring, Pitta is fiery and energetic, linked to late Spring / Summer, Vata is airy and soft, linked to Autumn.
So as we transition from the heat and fire of summer into the softer fall, it’s important to remember that this time is about change. Just as the leaves on the trees change color and start to fall, the wind picks up a bit and things are in flux, we as humans are affected by this ungrounded state.
Some things you may notice is a tendency to feel flighty or forgetful…leaving the keys behind, having to check something numerous times without any memory retention, or anything that seems a bit more difficult to grasp than what normally is.
Don’t worry. You don’t have dementia or short-term memory loss. It’s completely natural to have this happen in this time! This is the time of change, clearing the slate for something new, releasing all the stresses and worries of the previous 9 months to prepare for what’s being planted. The flightiness is synonymous with the air changing and becoming cooler, the wind becoming stronger to sweep out all the dying flowers and leaves. Just like nature, your mind and body is making space for what’s to come. But it has to cleanse itself first.
Staying grounded is particularly challenging during this transition. As you prepare for this transitional time, here are a few points and tips to get you started and reduce Vata, from practical maintenance to deeper spiritual contemplation.
Your Space and Appearance
DO: Clear out your closet. Get rid of anything that no longer serves you. That shirt that has pit stains and spaghetti sauce on it but you’re holding on to it for whatever reason…say bye bye. Make a bag of items to give to the Goodwill (or any other local charity for those less fortunate). It’ll clear you, and bring something to someone who is in need.
DON’T: Go on a shopping spree. Bringing new things in defeats the purpose of clearing the space for what’s to come.
DO: Integrate some neutral colors into your wardrobe, such as brown and beige. Start to leave the bright colors behind. You don’t have to abandon completely, but try to create awareness around the colors surrounding you. Wear cardigans or anything to keep you warm.
In your living space, bring out the neutral colors for sheets and blankets, or pillow coverings. It’s okay to have some oranges and reds in there, but if you start to feel irritation by these colors, try something softer.
DON’T: Try a new hairstyle or dye. Let the nature flow freely and keep steady with what you have.
DO: Summertime is notorious for packing a full schedule in. Try to release some of your social obligations. Find more time to be with yourself.
DON’T: Take on a new hobby or task. That time will come, and it’s right around the corner. Let what you’ve learned integrate thus far and sit with it.
DO: Write down a reflection of what has come about this year so far, and take time contemplating those things. Evaluate and see what has changed.
DON’T: Dwell on those changes. Acknowledge and move on.
DO: Integrate more earthy foods, such as beetroot, zucchini, leafy greens, whole grains. Warm foods are grounding and settling – pastas, soups like pumpkin or vegetable soup, basmati or brown rice. Spices like cinnamon, cumin, ginger, oregano, and parsley (to name a few) are good to add into your diet. Try some hot black tea to keep your belly warm.
DON’T: Drink too much coffee. Avoid cold foods and fizzy drinks. Stay away from raw fruits and vegetables like watermelon, cabbage and apples. Go easy on the alcohol.
Yoga / Movement / Meditation
DO: Slow it down. Integrate forward folds such as standing forward fold, seated forward fold, folded pigeon pose, and bound angle pose. Integrate a bit more Yin. Take time to sit with things and hold poses for longer. Take the internal review and journey as you hold seated and grounded poses for 3-5 minutes. For a stronger / more active flow, try triangle pose, peaceful warrior, and headstand (or variation of). See photos below.
DON’T: Do a gajillion chaturangas or sun salutations. These are fire building poses. We want to turn the energy down and ground ourselves. Inversions are good for grounding, but with a slow and steady approach rather than in a Vinyasa style.
DO: Find time to sit for just a little bit longer in seat. It may be hard. Add an extra 5 minutes to your meditation. If 5 minutes more actually means 5 minutes total, than that’s what it is. 😉
DON’T: Skip the meditation. Remember, anything can be a meditation – from watching the water boil on the stove to feeling the water from the shower hitting your face, take the moments and time.
DO: Go for walks or strolls outside. Let the changing nature surrounding you stimulate your mind and contemplation. Deep breathe in the crisp air and feel the softer sun on your face.
DON’T: Sit around. Times of change can bring on elements of sadness or depression. Keep moving and experience all that’s out there!
Remember: Routine is key through this time. Try to get up around the same time every day and go to bed around the same time every night. Make lists and keep them handy. Feel the joy of scratching something off the list.
And finally, enjoy this time of change and transition! Oh what a great time it is to be alive! Soak it all in, enjoy the changing colors, and most of all…enjoy!
Fall images: flickr.com