14.9.09

ayurveda & maintaining balance in seasonal change

oil lamp symbolizing sacred connection to the seasons and maintaining balance through seasonal changes with Ayurveda
Staying connected to the rhythms and cycles of the natural world is very important to me. We suffer from too much separateness in our world as it is now; at worst, immersion in the modern world can create an almost complete estrangement from the true rhythms of nature. I believe this amounts to an estrangement from our bodies, our creativity, each other, and our deepest selves. When we work, live, and travel in comfortably controlled environments, communicate and receive information about the world through electronic devices, we need to remember to connect with the real, tangible, and powerful forces of our actual natural environment. If we can maintain that organic connection, then all the shiny tools and comforts of our created world can be enjoyed and understood, in the greater context of nature. Perhaps maintaining this connection can help us to create new technologies and comforts which work in harmony with nature.

It's not such a daunting task, staying connected. Just pay attention - to the weather, to the moon, to the voice of your body, to the seasons. Get out there sometimes, and just be in the weather. Staying connected to the seasons has been a powerful practice for me since I left the ease and warmth of California for the intensity of the temperate rain forest of coastal B.C.. I love the times of seasonal change for the feelings of excitement and renewal they bring into my life. Like all times of change, however, the seasonal changes can bring a little vulnerability, and a challenge to stay in balance. Ayurveda, the traditional East Indian wellness practice, offers tools for staying in balance through the seasonal changes, and for keeping our bodies in balance with the larger rhythms. The transition into Fall is often a bit challenging for me, so I thought I'd look into how Ayurveda could help. Here's what I learned:

According to Ayurveda, September is the beginning of the Vata season, which lasts til around Winter Solstice. Vata energy is one of the three Doshas, or universal energies. Vata has the qualities of movement, activity, light, coolness, dryness, agitation. It is related to the element of Air. We are prone to imbalances of Vata during this season of late summer and early fall. Vata imbalances can manifest as:
  • an over-active, agitated mind
  • sleep disturbances
  • low immunity
  • achy joints
  • dry skin
  • loss of focus
  • chills
  • digestive problems
  • worry and anxiety
Right? I've been suffering from all of these things in the last couple of weeks! So what helps? Here are some suggestions I found for restoring balance during Vata season:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water or warming herbal teas.
  • Keep to a regular, and gentle, schedule, especially with sleep. Go to bed early, and rise early.
  • Practice restorative yoga or another gentle physical practice - stay active without overdoing.
  • Stay warm! Practice gently warming yoga poses like backbends and extensions.
  • Eat warming cooked seasonal food like squash, brown rice, and nourishing soups.
  • Take immunity enhancing herbal supplements.
  • Avoid too much travel, too much work, staying up too late.
These all sound like healthy, appealing suggestions, and I might even be able to integrate a few of them into my Fall routine. But the suggestion I liked the best was:
  • practice self-massage every morning with warm, scented oils (sesame oil is traditional.)
That sounds like a wonderful, self-nurturing practice, and well worth making time for. So if we do a few of these things, focus on slowing down, staying warm, and nourishing ourselves with seasonally appropriate foods and activities, (common sense, right?) then we can expect to experience the best of the Vata season, which is:
  • healthy energy
  • clarity of mind
  • awakened senses
  • renewed sense of purpose
  • positive momentum
Ayurveda is a sophisticated and complex ancient science. I found a good lay person's introduction here, if you are interested in learning more.

3 comments:

AnalieseMarie said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I, too, have been experiencing the symptoms you described, and I did not make the ayurvedic connection until reading your post! I would add taking nice, hot baths to the list of ways to restore balance. Maybe adding a few drops of warming essential oils, like ylang ylang or cinnamon. Mmm...

Cheri said...

One of my favorite curative treats is a steaming hot soak in epsom salts. They cleanse the body by enticing nasty toxins to seep out through the pores into the water, clearing the body channels. Stay in the bath until your forehead is beaded in sweat, or longer. This is dehydrating so be sure to have a tall glass of water both before and after your soak. Hmm ... yes, a few drops of your favorite 'calming' essential oils would make this perfect! The head of my tub is by a window. A cooling breeze blowing on one's head while emerged in a steamy tub, is so lovely!

Sallie Ann said...

I am every bit a Vata, so this is great information! Thanks so much.

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