The changing of the seasons is not just a change on the calendar or in the weather, it’s an energetic change too. Ayurveda has long regarded the transition into Autumn as an important time to reset and regenerate your body and mind, advising extra rest and adopting a regular routine. Ayurveda for autumn is all about finding balance. You can also fortify your health by eating simple, easy-to-digest foods and taking on nourishing behaviours such as doing daily abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage). This, along with some of the other practices of Ayurveda will boost your immunity against seasonal colds and help you to stay balanced, grounded and strong.
When the weather starts to deteriorate, your body struggles to protect itself and stay balanced. As the leaves on the trees become dry and crack so can your skin and joints; when the weather becomes changeable so does your mind. According to Ayurveda, Autumn is governed by the Vata dosha, or the element of air. Vata is seen as windy, cold, rough and dry, so as these qualities increase in the environment around you, they also start to increase in your internal environment.
So what recommendations does Ayurveda offer to enjoy the Vata season?
This practice is very significant in Ayurveda as a nourishing and balancing act of self-care. Dry brushing activates the lymphatic system by clearing off layers of skin, similar to tilling fields or pulling off harvest. Stroke the skin in a lengthwise fashion towards the heart at the limbs and a circular fashion in the direction of large intestine flow at the abdomen. Dry brush without using oil (if your skin is sensitive, use a little oil on the skin first), and use a natural bristle brush.
TAKE EXTRA CARE OF YOUR SKIN BY FOLLOWING UP WITH AN OIL MASSAGE
Ground yourself with a warm sesame oil self-massage. Start with the soles of your feet and work up your body to your head. Use sweeping strokes along the muscles, circular movements around the joints, always massaging the belly in a clockwise direction, up the right side and down the left side. Leave the oil on for at least ten minutes before you shower or bathe. A daily massage also helps dilate the skin surface, clear toxins and aid movement of lymph (a nourishing face mask is good too).
DRINK IMMUNE BOOSTING TEAS
Freshly grated ginger tea is great. As is Holy Basil, or Tulsi tea as it’s called in Ayurveda, meaning ‘incomparable one’. Tulsi’s especially good for a cold, cough or flu. Liquorice tea helps a scratchy throat. Even hot water is a simple elixir. Anything that is warming, hydrating and detoxifying is good for immunity. You can even make your own tea using warming spices such as cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove.
PRIORITISE WARM, SPICY FOODS
The good news is you can enjoy all the warm, spicy flavours in your foods at this time of year. From mid-September to late October it’s important to feast on plenty of fresh, late-summer harvested fruits, such as apples and pears. These fruits provide fibre, which helps move waste out of the gut to help digest the heavier foods of winter.
Let go of the things that are no longer serving you. You may have various reasons for holding onto things but letting go of those reasons as well as the objects themselves can be very therapeutic. Ayurvedic cleansing goes so much further than a juice fast or colon cleanse, inviting you to take note of what’s holding you down or keeping your back and bidding it farewell.