Seasonal Yoga Practice: the Gentle Shift into Vata Time
Soon, the summer heat will begin to fade; the air will feel crisper and dryer, leaves on the trees turn yellow and fall off, and a cooler wind will start to blow. In the Northern Hemisphere the fall is just around the corner, - a season when Vata takes over.
When too much Vata accumulates, this can cause physical and mental imbalance in the form of constipation, dry skin, achy joints, insomnia, anxiety, and a lack of focus. According to Ayurvedic texts, it is during the time of seasonal changes when we are most susceptible to imbalances.
Here are some things I like to do, to help prepare my body and mind to transition more gently into and stay balanced during the Vata season:
Begin my day with a cup of warm lemon water, and drink ginger tea or warm herbal teas during the day. I like to add ashwagandha to my morning smoothie, -this supports the nervous system and fights off stress, fatigue and lack of energy that comes with the seasonal shifts. I also add turmeric to my meals to fight off any inflammation.
Slowly start to change my diet from summer's favourites like fruits and cold salads to warm, cooked dishes like steamed vegetables, clear soups and steamed rice. I stick to seasonal goodies, and nourish my body with light and warm meals.
Enjoy a slightly more grounding and restorative yoga practice. As we adapt to Vata season, staying grounded on (and off) the mat is key. Increased Vata can make us feel airy and disembodied. In order to stay balanced, it's recommended to avoid fast-paced asana practice, deep back bends and inversions. I like to focus on a slower practice, alignment and breath. Standing asanas, forward bends, hip openers and restorative asanas are a great choice. Three long inhales through the nose and three longer exhales through the mouth are excellent for releasing any tension. In my Pranayama practice I tend to take shorter inhales and longer exhales. I always take long, deep Shavasana
Meditation, Yoga Nidra and lots of relaxation are great at this time of the year to help concentrate, fight off anxiety and calm the nervous system.
Whenever I can, I treat myself to an Ayurvedic massage or a warm oil massage. I love Abhyanga or self-massage using warm sesame oil.
Seasonal shifts are a perfect time to take plenty of rest, enjoy long walks in nature, read inspiring books, and spend time with introspection. This is a time to look within and find out what we need to let go of in order to create space for something new and more aligned with our souls.
Photo: Sanjin Kastelan