I have been hearing from many of my clients the last month that certain symptoms are on the rise. Rising symptoms is an indication from the bodymind that your internal balance in shifting and needs correction.
In Ayurveda, this seasonal change in symptoms makes perfect sense. Because the outer world around you is changing, albeit a little slowly this year in Wisconsin, into the fall season, you are being affected by new qualities and forces which affect your inner world.
In fact, your internal biochemistry and state of balance is constantly being affected by different factors. Some of these factors are ones that you have control over such as the foods you eat, the type of exercise and activities you engage in, and other self-care tools you may be using to promote wellness. Other factors, such as the weather or season, still affect you even though you don’t consciously choose or control them.
While you may not be a weather wizard and able to control the outer atmosphere, there are still steps you can take to keep your bodymind in balance even as the world around you shifts.
Ayurveda views the season, as it does everything in life, through the lens of the three doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of these doshas can be recognized by different qualities or characteristics, which become more prominent when increased within the bodymind.
- The main qualities of Vata are cold, dry, light, mobile/variable and clear
- The main qualities of Pitta are hot, slightly oily/moist, light and sharp/sour
- The main qualities of Kapha are heavy, oily/moist, cool, cloudy, dull and slow
You can use the qualities to see which dosha or doshas are dominant in any season.
Based on the qualities that you are noticing in the outer world, which dosha(s) do you think are governing your early fall season?
In the area I live in Wisconsin, we’ve had an unseasonably warm fall so far with more than the normal amount of rain. It’s becoming cooler but excessively cold. The humidity levels are still moderate to higher, but there is a noticeable shift in the air becoming lighter and drier. We’ve had a mix of sun, gray clouds, and morning fogs. And there is constant fluctuation in the temperatures – both from day to day as well as a bigger range between daytime hours and the overnight lows.
From the above description, you might pick out the words cool, moist, a mix of heavy and cloudy alternating with brisk, clear days, and a dominant feature of fluctuation. Put that together and my fall season is a combination of Kapha and Vata so far.
Back to the emerging symptoms I’m hearing from my clients now. I’m getting reports of everything from insomnia, anxiety, overwhelm, and mild constipation and gas along with days of feeling more tired, a little down/sad, lethargic and unmotivated.
The latter symptoms mostly seem to occur on those wet, gray, cloudy days – what Ayurveda would call Kapha days. And the symptoms stem from a spike in Kapha creating more heavy, dull and slow in the bodymind. On days like this, you want to counter the Kapha by bringing in the opposite of those natural qualities.
- Counter the heaviness in the body by eating lighter, easy-to-digest, warm foods like soups, drier basmati rice and vegetables, or fish and chicken over the heavier red meats.
- Minimize heavy wheat products, especially those made with white sugar, as well as dairy products.
- Though your tendency is to want to snuggle up under a blanket or snooze in front of a fire, these days it is actually best to take a faster, invigorating walk in the woods and move the body to counter the slow and heavy qualities.
- Instead of lounging in front of the television, counter dullness by creating stimulation – get out with friends, got to a museum, or do another activity that actively engages the body and mind.
On the other hand, if you’re being more affected by the constant fluctuation right now, your Vata is being affected by an increase of the light and mobile quality. All this transition and change is creating a sense of being ungrounded and instability within you – creating the symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and overload. The answer to this Vata fluctuation and transition is to focus on behaviors and tools that support your feeling stable, especially within the nervous system.
- Try to have a more consistent schedule, especially around your bed/wake times and meal times.
- A slow and nourishing self message with warming sesame oil is one of the most soothing tools for the nervous system. It is especially nice with a lavender scented bath afterwards!
- Taking just 5-10 minutes each day to breathe in a slower, deeper rhythm of 3.5-4 second inhales and exhales relaxes your stress response.
- Slow down by taking a little more time to rest and enjoy quieter activities while reducing the busy, running around where you can.
As we move into later fall and early winter and the true cold sets in along with the drier air, you will likely also begin to see a rise in cold and dry within your system. The cold will bring the obvious cold hands and feet and feeling cooler in general. But cold also causes contraction and some people’s pain conditions worsen. The dryness may show up in your skin or membranes, such as drier eyes or a dry, congested nose. But dryness can also create brittleness in emotions and energy. You might find yourself feeling a little more sensitive to people and the environment or feel drained from being dried out from your activities. If these symptoms start to arise, you want to focus on countering the qualities of cold and dry along with the previous remedies for light and variable.
- Stay warm by making sure you dress appropriately, especially protecting the head, neck and hands.
- Drink warmer beverages and minimize cold/iced drinks and foods. Staying properly hydrated is also important.
- Eat warmer foods like cooked cereals for breakfast and soup, stews and gooey comfort casseroles.
- Oil up – not only by externally applying pure oil to the body through self massage but also by making sure you take in enough good quality fats.
- Enjoy warm showers and steam baths for moderate periods of time. But be careful of too much dry heat like saunas and staying hot for too long as it will eventually lead to more dryness.
- Look at how activities, when done to excess or imbalance, may be “drying” out your inner life sap and modify where you can.
Not sure how the seasons are affecting you or you need more specific guidance? Schedule your complimentary 15 Minute Information Session to learn more about how Ayurveda Wellness Coaching might support you.
©2016, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Certified Life Coach at Abundant You Coaching in Brookfield, WI