This past July I had the good fortune of attending a weekend Ayurveda intensive. I went into the weekend with a little bit of previous knowledge about the basics of this ancient healing art, and I left with more tools in my toolbox. I love the process of discovering more about myself and how to make decisions that support living a life of balance and vitality. Here’s a little of what I learned as it applies to seasonal balance this Fall.
Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, is an ancient Indian healing modality based in the view that optimal health and well being are a delicate balance of mind, body, and spirit. As an individualized approach to health, Ayurveda takes into account each person’s unique constitution, emotional landscape, and spiritual outlook.
Ayurveda recognizes that we are intrinsically connected to, and therefore, effected by nature. Rather than Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, Ayurveda divides the year into three seasons. Vata season from late Fall to early Winter, Kapha season from late winter into early spring, and Pitta season from late spring through the early part of fall.
We are currently entering Vata season as this time of year is marked by some of the same qualities as Vata – rough, cold, dry, light, clear, and mobile. Whether our personal constitution is predominantly Vata or not we are all susceptible to Vata imbalance/aggravation during the colder Autumn months.
So what can we do to cultivate balance and stay grounded during Vata season?
There is an important Ayurvedic principle that can help guide our dietary and lifestyle choices, which is like attracts like and opposite creates balance. If we know that Vata season is cool, light, dry, windy, and unpredictable then we want to establish a routine that includes warmth, stability, nourishment, grounding, and loving relationships.
Here are some ways we can apply these balancing principles to our yoga asana practice:
- Move at a slower more mindful pace
- Keep your attention in the present moment
- Choose postures that encourage stability and grounding such as standing poses
- Include hip openers to create freedom in the lower back and lower belly
- Practice Sama Vritti – balanced inhale and exhale and gradually increase the length of your inhale as the inhale is the warming breath
- Keep your gaze down rather than up to encourage a sense of grounded focus
These five poses are great for cultivating stability, connection to the ground, strength, inward focus, and nourishment. Hold the standing poses for 3-5 breaths, child’s pose for 8-10 breaths, and stay in a luxurious savasana for 10 minutes.
When Vata is balanced we feel healthy, clear, creative, and expansive.