I’m lucky to be in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. The air is crisp and the leaves are brilliant reds and blazing oranges. I am here at Kripalu steeping in the study of Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga. I’m learning so much and finding this forgotten Science so inspiring, intelligent and intuitive! It couldn’t be more perfectly aligned with the iflow philosophy of learning from, respecting and connecting with Nature. Ayur is the sanskrit word for life and Veda means knowledge. Ayurveda is rooted in the idea that the 5 elements – ether, air, fire, water, earth – are found within everything in the Universe, including us, we are also made up of these elements. The degrees to which each element is present creates our Ayurvedic constitution. There are 3 Doshas that make up our true nature:
- Vata is made up of ether + air; responsible for all movement in the body and mind
- Pitta is fire + water; responsible for mental and physical transformation
- Kapha is water + earth; responsible for structure and stability
To find out your constitution and learn what Doshas are predominant in your constitution go to www.whatsyourdosha.com.
Fall marks the beginning of Vata season. The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile. The nature of things here on the east coast are generally always high in Vata in terms of the movement, stimulation and fast paced lifestyles. Think of Times Square in Manhattan; that’s high Vata! Almost everyone in the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area suffers from a Vata imbalance to some degree. We are over stimulated and agitated by all the movement in our surroundings and in our minds. We may experience feelings of being as scattered as the leaves, trouble sleeping, anxiety, nervousness, dry skin, hair, constipation. In the fall season it’s a double whammy of Vata because on top of all the stimulation and fast paced lifestyles it’s getting cooler and dryer, adding to the derangement. If you are mostly made up of Vata Constitution, then the fall and winter are particularly uncomfortable times of year for you. An easy way to address this is to nourish yourself with all things that contain the earth, water, and fire elements since these are the elements lacking in the fall transition to winter. What types of foods, activities, practices and people ground, hydrate, and warm you? Regardless of your elemental make-up, all 5 elements are present in each of us and everyone can benefit from these ancient Ayurvedic secrets. To sign up to receive iflows FREE Monthly Newsletter filled with Yogic and Ayurveda inspiration click www.amypastore.com and subscribe. Here are some things to consider:
- Sip warm water throughout the day. You can make special tea by adding fresh ginger, cardamom, cinnamon or fennel. These herbs and spices warm the body and enhance circulation and digestion.
- Eat seasonally. Nature provides us with what we need, when we need it so replace raw salads of summer with fresh homemade hot soups and roasted root vegetables. Baked apples with cinnamon are a total comfort food. Replace cold dry cereal with hot moist cereal. If your making a smoothie in the morning, try it with hot water. It will be easier to digest and warm your heart.
- Take warm baths and quiet time to unwind and relax. Calm the mobile body and active mind. Other great activities for pacifying Vata imbalance is creating art, music and journaling. Taking time to get outside on a walk in the elements. Collect some colorful leaves. When we get out in nature it’s easy to feel connected and peaceful.
- Dress in layers and wear clothing that is of soft in texture and warm in color. Excellent choices would be cotton, linen and wool of red, orange and yellow shades. Cool colors like blues, greens can further heighten the Vata that is present. Put the flip flops away and break out the Uggs, leg warmers, mittens and cap your energy with a hat. Hats are great for keeping Vata energetically contained.
- Organic Sesame Oil self massage to soothe dry skin. Take care of yourself. A huge part of Ayurvedic Healing and Yoga is self care. An oil foot massage will help with insomnia; a drop or two on the head will do amazing things. Abdominal massage with oil, great stuff. This doesn’t have to be a big production. It can be if you have the time but even just using sesame oil as your moisturizer will help immensely. Skip the chemical infused expensive creams and use nature’s best moisturizer. This is all you need. Changed my life. (Sesame Oil that is not toasted, that’s for cooking!)
- To soothe Dry Eyes try Organic Rose water. This can be misted on face or directly into the eyes. Great skin toner as well. The scent of Rose is comforting too.
- Asana. Heating Sun Salutations and hip openers such as pigeon and malasana. What is important is not so much what asana you do but the way in which you do it. The practice should be routine and have a steady rhythmic flow. Emphasize the water element and make movements fluid. Bring in the earth element with lots of attention to rooting the foundation of the postures and grounding. Awareness can be placed on going inside as we withdraw from external stimuli to get to really know ourselves. Try working with the same sequence at the same time of day for 30 days. This type of regularity is usually difficult for Vata Dosha but it is just what will soothe the agitation.
- Pranayama. Continuous use of Ujjayi Pranayama within Asana will enhance focus and ground you into the poses. In seated posture or lying on back 3 part breath is a great way to experience a settling sensation. Alternate Nostril breath is balancing for any constitution.
- Meditation. A regular meditation practice assists in quieting, centering and grounding the active Vata mind. Try simply sitting for 10 minutes. Candle gazing is a wonderful technique giving the mind one point to focus on.
- Music. This time of year we need to ground. Try Garth Stevens Flying– its actually really grounding! Drops me right in.
May these practices keep our body, mind and spirits warmly nourished and in the flow as we transition.
Amy & iflow Yoga