Did you know that fall is a great time of transition in our bodies? In fact, we move from summer’s expansive energy to winter’s contractile energy without even knowing it. From my advanced studies in Ayurveda — the 5,000-year-old ancient holistic science that originated in India — to experience as an intuitive health and life coach, I incorporate Ayurveda fall energetics to better position my clients, and myself, to thrive during seasonal changes.
In Ayurvedic, every season is associated with an element. During autumn, air and ether become the strongest in our environment. In principle, air and ether are inherently cold, dry, mobile and light. Picture the leaves falling in the wind, autumnal yellows, oranges and reds momentarily painting the crisp blue sky and then settling onto the earth below. Imagine the wind in your hair, blowing across your face and brushing up against your skin.
From the ancient Ayurveda teachings, we learn that autumn is the time to reset your body as well as your boundaries. I suggest that clients create a strong and self-loving container for themselves. As you may know, boundaries solidify and strengthen what is within. By setting healthy boundaries and daily structure, we’re able to better contain the mobile air and ether energy that otherwise would drive us crazy.
Here are some tips from Ayurveda teachings for this fall season.
Substantive, oily, nourishing foods that are high in protein and fat, brought to life with warming, stimulating spices and served hot, will go a long way toward maintaining your internal reserves of moisture and keeping you grounded through the season. The best food choices include sweet, sour and salty tastes. Cooked grains, steamed vegetables, hearty grains, soups and stews are grounding and moisturizing, and dairy products as well as all nuts and seeds are also beneficial.
While seasonally-appropriate exercise isn’t a concept in the U.S., Ayurveda recommends you adjust your workouts according to nature. In the fall, your strength is a little low and your capacity to exercise is less. During fall, slower and more gentle exercise is best for the body. Fast and intense workouts or any kind of erratic physical movement should be scaled back. The best workout in this season is yoga, especially a grounding yin or Hatha.
While the well-known Italian quote “il dolce far nulla” (the art of doing nothing) isn’t really embodied in the American culture, in Ayurveda, too much activity or stimulation during the fall season can derange your vata, or energy associated with movement. It’s important to slow down and take more time to bask in the sun, meditate, practice pranayama or take a short walk outside can keep your vata in check.
Massage your skin with warm, organic sesame or herbal oil. This will help calm your nervous system, awaken your tissues and ground your energy by massaging your skin. Follow this practice with a warm, relaxing shower, leaving a coat of oil on the skin to absorb throughout the day. Steam baths and humidifiers can help preserve internal moisture as well.
Wear autumn colors when appropriate — reds, yellows, oranges and whites — and wear enough clothes so you stay warm throughout the day. When you step into the elements, cover your head and ears to protect them from the biting wind and cold.
While many of us hate the idea of routine, the body craves and needs it. You don’t need to restrict yourself to the same pattern every day, but try to do the same things (wake up, exercise, eat meals, go to bed, etc.) at roughly the same times each day. Set the tone for your day by rising early, taking full advantage of the silence, stillness and peace that are intrinsic to the early morning hours. This kind of regularity tames vata so your nervous system is relaxed, your digestion is strong and your energy is stable.
The transition of the season to fall signals “rejuvenation” in Ayurveda. Not only is rejuvenation beneficial for mitigating current imbalances, but it also helps prevent future illness. Ayurvedic rejuvenation involves gentle cleansing and restorative actions, including a combination of dietary guidelines, herbal formulations and supplements.
About the Author
With her deep Italian roots and passion for healthy cooking, Sara Garofalo is the founder of Love Holistic Living, an intuitive health and life coach and an Ayurveda counselor and energy healer. Her cookbook Mangia is being released in January 2023.