Can You Follow These Ayurvedic Tips For Seasonal Balance?
We’ve talked a fair bit about Ayurveda—the ancient East Indian medical practice—but if you need a refresher on the principles, or want to know your dosha, you can find it all here. In very brief, Ayurveda maintains that we are all made up of three energy elements called doshas, with some dominating more than others depending on the individual.
But these three doshas—called vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth/water)—also govern seasons, time of day, and more.
Fall, with its cooler temperatures and blustery breezes, is vata incarnate—which means vata types are super susceptible to the shift. But all of us can be thrown out of balance by autumn’s arrival—and most of us have a little vata in it. Unfortunately, it’s the first dosha to get thrown off balance.
For instance, as the soon as the season shifted Siobhan and I both noticed that we weren’t sleeping as well, frequently waking up between 2 and 4 am (a.k.a vata time). It’s also easy to get stressy in the fall; it’s that total back-to-school-time-to-make-something-of-your-life energy. Which is awesome, until it’s keeping you up at night and disrupting your digestion. You get the picture.
So, to give us all a helping hand, I turned to one of my favorite new health practitioners in Los Angeles: Jennie Erke, an ayurvedic doctor who works out of the beautiful Raksala space in Culver City. Jennie’s all about applying Ayurveda to our western lives and I recently had an amazing session with her. She told me ways to balance my diet and energy, and I told her which shampoo I thought she would like. Barter styles! It was so awesome that I asked her to do a little interview for the blog on balancing our lives this fall.
1. So, Siobhan and I need some sleep help! What are your recommendations?
Sleep is the foundation of staying connected to nature’s rhythms. So Ayurveda recommends a bedtime routine. Start with a sesame oil full body massage (abhyanga)—include your head, but not your feet—before your shower or bath (great e.o.’s for vata are rose, geranium, lavender and neroli). Then get into bed (with no TV, computer or exciting novel), rub some sesame or castor oil on your feet, and pull on some socks to protect your sheets. Lights out by 10pm.
The best quality sleep is available from 10-2am. These 4 hours are a Pitta time and recharge your batteries (helping you build prana). Try to get 8-9 hours of sleep during fall and winter. This will help keep vata balanced.
2. Fall can people make a little scatterbrained, right? Tell us how to get our focus back.
Make sure to eat a warm breakfast (rice/oats/quinoa cereal with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger and vanilla almond milk or raw organic cow’s milk. (and as tempting as it may be Vata’s do best to avoid dried fruits.) Then be certain to stay level/balanced and grounded by eating every 2/3 hours. Do not skip meals. This aggravates vata the most. Resulting in too much space and air in the body. Feeling ’spaced out’, or stressed and multitasking, ‘hurrying’ are typical results. Vata needs routine routine routine to stay grounded and focused.
3. If there were three diet recommendations you would tell clients as we transition into a new season, what would they be?
1) Routine! Do not skip meals. Eat every 3 hours. Nuts are great for Vatas to always have with them and a great autumn snack (oils soothe their dry nature and the protein keeps them calm.)
2) Take only warm, cooked foods. Spice is also helpful for digestion. This means no salad because it’s too cold and light and difficult to digest, which can result in gas and bloating for people who are already vata dominant.
3) Drink ginger tea before meals to boost digestive fire. (This can help gas, indigestion and bloating.)
4. Any other tips you can share on seasonal changes?
I save time and mess by making a great scrub so I get my oil massage in the warm shower.
I use bath salts or sugar in the raw, mixed with sesame or coconut oil and essential oils: neroli and ginger (AM) or lavender and chamomile (PM).
5. What’s your favorite ayurvedic beauty ritual?
Stay warm. Always bring a jacket or sweater along. And get some sunshine by taking a morning walk (but not a jog or run) in nature.
Thanks Jennie! I’m going to have to work hard on routine, my greatest downfall, and try to get back into an earlier sleep pattern. What will you try to adjust this fall?