Fall and Early Winter Season Guidelines for Balanced Health

I’m so excited to be sharing this post with you today as part of the Women’s Holistic Health Blog Tour hosted by Vivinne (Kala) Williams from YogaBlissDance.com. Each participant whether yoga teacher, healer, herbalist, has an expertise and shares their tips on how women can maintain their emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.

Read yesterdays awesome post “How to treat yourself like a loved one | Women’s Holistic Health Blog Tour” by Emily Burrows:   http://www.emilyburrows.com/#!How-to-treat-yourself-like-a-loved-one-Womens-Holistic-Health-Blog-Tour/ci4x/BF2F43BC-0A66-48C9-8D97-C618392E6F6A and tomorrows article: “A Loving-Kindness Practice for Women” by Vivinne (Kala) Williams, Yoga teacher/massage therapist

Fall and Early Winter Season Guidelines for Balanced Health

Ayurveda, the science of living is an ancient healing system originated in India. In Ayurveda, everything is composed of five elements: air, space, fire, water and earth. These elements are described in a simplified form as three vital energies, also known as doshas. Each dosha is a combination of two elements: Vata (air + space), Pitta (water + fire), Kapha (water + earth). In Ayurveda doshas are described by their qualities.

Ayurveda recommendations during fall, a Vata Season:

The seasons of the year have their own qualities, knowing these qualities can empower you to prevent unfavorable changes that can affect your health.
Fall and early winter are windy, dry, rough, cool, subtle and erratic. Vata shares the same qualities. It is also mobile as the wind, dry, rough, cool, subtle and erratic. Because they share the same qualities, fall and early winter are considered to be a Vata season. In the Ayurvedic principles like increases like, so during the fall/early winter season Vata can easily become unbalanced or not in equilibrium within your unique constitution. Regardless of which elements are most predominant in your constitution, the elements of Vata: air and space are at some degree still present in your body and they can be increased during the fall/early winter season creating an imbalance in your constitution that could affect your health. There are few simple steps to balance Vata during the fall/early winter. Some of these steps we already instinctively follow. At summer time we tend to eat more raw foods such as salads and fruits which are refreshing and appropriated for the summer season, during the fall/early winter season we crave for more hearty, grounding vegetables such as pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut squash. These foods naturally overcome the dry, light, and erratic nature of the fall/early winter by bringing to your body more grounding and nourishing energies. It is important to make eating and lifestyle choices that counter the effects of each season in order to maintain an internal sense of equilibrium year around.

The knowledge of Ayurveda teaches us that a dosha is increased by those experiences that have similar qualities and decreased by opposite qualities. Therefore, if Vata season is dry, rough, cool, subtle and erratic it will be less aggravated if you incorporate more practices that bring warmth, nourishment, oiliness, and grounding energies to your diet and lifestyle. The following general recommendations are good to be followed during the fall season by most people. If you know your unique constitution you can tailor a more precise routine to favor your Ayurvedic doshic type.

Women and the Vata Season

According to Ayurveda, Vata is the cause of most disease in the body due to its unstable qualities. This is seen in reproductive and hormonal problems. Menstrual, pre-menstrual, pre-menopausal and post-menopausal problems are signs of a Vata imbalance, even if Vata is not predominant in your constitution. Menstrual disturbances such as pain, discomfort and emotional swings are due to a Vata imbalance and should not be accepted as normal. Menopause as the fall season is a time of transition a time of letting the need to do and achieve go, a period of wisdom and grace and should not be seen as a difficult time. If you are experiencing menstrual or menopausal problems, your Vata could be out of balance. During the Vata season symptoms could be exacerbated so follow the recommendations below and notice if symptoms ameliorate. Shatavari root is an amazing herb to take when experiencing menstrual disturbances. It cools the body; strengthens and nourishes the reproductive organs. It promotes vitality and rejuvenation and maintains a healthy production of female hormones. It also supports the menopausal transition. Contact me for dosage information. Since there is no one way that disease will manifest schedule a consultation with me to find out your dosha constitution and investigate any doshic imbalance.

Diet during Vata Season

Nutrition is an important way to keep you constitution in balance throughout the year. During fall/early winter season choose foods that are nourishing and grounding such as:

  • Fruits: Apples (steamed), avocado, bananas, dates, lemons, limes, mangos, oranges, papaya, soaked prunes, soaked raisins.
  • Vegetables: Beets, carrots, chilies, garlic, okra, onions, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potato.
  • Hearty grains: Amaranth, basmati and brown rice, oats, quinoa, whole wheat.
  • Legumes: Kidney beans, black lentil, miso, mung beans, tur dal, urad dal.
  • Nuts and seeds
  • High quality protein: Organic eggs, organic chicken and turkey, grass fed beef, duck, wild-caught fish, venison and bone broth.
  • Omega 3: fatty fish like salmon and mackerel and turmeric.
  • Healthy oils: Ghee (clarified butter), olive, safflower, and sesame.
  • Vitamin D: Ghee and cod liver oil.
  • Sweeteners: Molasses, raw honey and raw sugar.

All spices are good for Vata season. Experience with them in your cooking. My favorite ones are: Cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, rosemary and turmeric. Avoid raw cold foods, during the fall season foods should be lightly cooked, moistened and served warm. Have regular meal times and drink plenty of fluids, preferably teas, throughout the day.

Lifestyle Practices during Vata Season

  • Establish a daily routine and get into the habit of doing the same things around the same time of the day.
  • Going to bed by 10pm will guarantee that you get enough rest before dawn.
  • Do a self-massage using organic sesame or coconut oil. Add one drop of lavender oil for a more relaxing experience. Oiling is very beneficial to counteract the dryness experienced in the Vata season.
  • Steam bath and humidifiers can be beneficial in order to preserve internal moisture.
  • Practice gentle yoga preferably in the early morning an evening hours.
  • Practice 10-15 minutes of meditation daily.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the colder weather outside. Wear a hat or a scarf to cover your head and ears from the wind and cold. If your hands are usually cold, wear gloves when outside.
  • Stay away from drafts, loud noise and negativity.

 Powerful Herbs for Vata Season Support

  • Ashwagandha: Promotes sound sleep, relieves stress and supports the nervous system. Contact me for dosage information.
  • Triphala: Promotes proper elimination. Contact me for dosage information.
  • Cumin, coriander and fennel. Make a tea using ¼ teaspoon of each in order to improve digestion.
  • Ginger: Add to soups, sauces and tea. It promotes digestion and warmth.
  • Licorice: It can also help to promote digestion and warmth.

The above recommendations will help to keep you grounded and bring a sense of stability through the Vata season! Remember to enjoy this wonderful season as we watch leaves fall to the ground we can reflect that fall is a time of transition, to letting things go and to practice getting out of the way and letting the higher force to take charge of our lives.

Anamaria Pontes, MS, RD, CDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Ayurveda Therapist

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