Fifty-degree nights? The first dried-up leaves scattered across the sidewalk? It’s Fall, y’all!
Get ready for an exciting season of pumpkin picking, hay rides, and leaf-peeping — accompanied by increased anxiety, trouble concentrating, and (possibly) some massive upheavals in your life.
For every person you know that LOVES fall, I guarantee there’s another who dreads it. Sure, it’s beautiful. The food is the best – right?? And the weather! The perfect happy medium between muggy summer and craptastic winter.
But it’s also the busiest time of year. Activities increase, days shorten, schedules explode. There’s a pervasive feeling of anticipation and impatience. Like you’ve had too much coffee on an empty stomach. It’s almost as if there’s something in the air.
Every season has particular attributes that define it. Summer is hot and firey. Fall and winter?Dry, electric, transitional. Spring is earthy. Wet. Heavy.
In the Eastern healing system known as Ayurveda, these three types are called doshas, and they correspond to personality and body types as well as seasons. The three doshas are:
A Pitta-dominant person tends to be ruddy in complexion, strong and powerful, with a firey temper. (Like summer.) These folks also tend to be easily overheated, drawn to spicy foods, and sometimes a bit aggressive.
Vata-dominant people are usually thin and/or wiry, with a tendency toward dry skin and sensitivity to cold. They can have trouble staying focused and grounded, and while they can think quickly, they also tend toward anxiety.
Kapha folks tend to be heavier and curvier, with smooth complexions and dark, shiny hair. They’re slower in temperament and physicality, and often struggle with low energy. They are associated with a calming, nurturing energy. (Kinda maternal – like spring.)
All three doshas are present in everyone, but most people have a dominant and a secondary dosha. For example, I’m a Vata-Kapha.
Ideally, the doshas are more or less equally balanced. The negative aspects of each dosha emerge when one element grows too dominant. That’s why it’s essential to balance out your predominant dosha with complimentary food, exercise, and habits. (For some reason, you’re usually drawn to the very things that exacerbate your dosha rather than easing it).
A cold, sinewy Vata likes yoga, because she’s good at yoga. But what she really needs? Are grounding, strengthening activities – like weightlifting.
Fall/winter is a really tough time for Vatas, because the very properties of Nature enhance Vata and create an imbalance. My feet and hands are pretty much frozen from October to March. I absolutely hate the dry, static-y feeling of my hair, and I practically drown my skin in coconut oil. I also have an extra tough time making decisions and getting my zig-zagging mind to settle down.
Regardless of your predominant dosha, however, it’s helpful to understand what’s really happening in the fall, and how to balance it out.
Do you feel scattered right now? Like you have so much to do all the time and a million things to remember? An excess of nervous energy or unexplained anxiety? Trouble making decisions or getting to sleep at night?
Your Vata might be out of balance. (That’s a new one, right?)
It’s easy (and awesome) to get grounded and find balance. Try any or all of these simple lifestyle tweaks.
Eat grounding foods. Whaddya know? The foods we gravitate towards in the fall are the exact same grounding foods that balance out Vata! Try cooked squash, roasted root vegetables, and meats like chicken, turkey, and beef. Warming spices like ginger and cloves. Pot roast and chili are great grounding foods. Way to go, nature!
Avoid cooling foods. No more salad for you, scatterbrain. Steer clear of raw foods and opt for hot cereal or eggs in the morning instead of a smoothie.
Get warm. Drink more herbal tea or even just warm water. Be mindful of getting too cold – always bring a layer if you know you’re going to be in air-conditioning for a while. Try a warm or hot yoga class (there are plenty of options for beginners; ask me if you need a recommendation.)
Reduce caffeine. So sorry, but you know it’s true. Anxious, overstimulated, and can’t calm down? It’s kind of a no-brainer. Do what you can handle – even just cutting your caffeine in half will help.
Try this grounding meditation. Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet planted on the ground (no shoes). Close your eyes and breathe deeply through your nose. Feel your feet on the ground. Feel your butt on the seat. Feel your entire bodyweight supported at these two points of contact. Let yourself get heavy. Imagine there are roots growing into the earth from the soles of your feet. Do this anytime you feel scattered.
To find out more about doshas and which one you are, I recommend this questionnaire. (I also suggest having an honest loved one take it with you. Sometimes the way you think you are, or want to be, gets in the way of an accurate result.)
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda? Keep an eye for Marilyn’s What is Ayurveda pop-up class on our class schedule.