Ayurvedic Transitions to Fall: Tips from our Founder
Fall is a time of transition, known in Ayurveda as the Vata season - it can bring on qualities of dryness - so you may find your skin and hair more rough, brittle and frizzy than usual; you may also find that you're more anxious and having more trouble sleeping.
Ayurveda believes that your environment can have a profound influence on the balance of your doshas and overall well-being. Seasons also have dominant doshas and Fall is Vata dominant. What this means is that as we transition into Fall, the vata energy in all of us is likely to be elevated, and amongst those of us who already have a Vata dominant constitution - this is most likely to bring us out of balance if we don't maintain our vata-pacifying routines. Across all constitutions, as the Vata energy in the environment rises - we are likely to feel signs of anxiety or hyperactivity, as well as dryness within the skin, hair and body overall. Here are some tips from Shrankhla Holecek, Ayurvedic Expert and Founder of UMA - to help stay in balance this Vata season.
In Vata season, people are more likely to have dry skin, making it important to protect it from the heat and cold, as well as to retain moisture. In order to keep Vata balanced, it is helpful to do the following Vata balancing activities.
1. Drink plenty of water in order to keep the body hydrated, and the skin properly moisturized.
2. Help the skin’s natural moisture barrier by adding natural hydration boosters such as rose water (instead of an alcohol-based toner) can be tremendously helpful.
3. Stay away from drying cleansers that are often soap based. Instead try nut powders, oats and honey as an alternative. Aloe vera gel or cream may also be used to gently massage the facial skin and add extra moisture. Antioxidant and oil-rich avocado has a number of benefits for the skin and is chock full of healthy fatty acids and vitamins. Mash up an avocado into a smooth paste and apply it evenly to the face. Once it dries off (in roughly 15 minutes), rinse off with cold water.
4. Face oils are especially beneficial during vata season as they help restore the skin’s natural barrier.
Self-massage, a cornerstone of Ayurvedic self-care comes to the fore in Fall, as an efficacious and indulgent way to pacify Vata and ground the body. Loving, generous, Ayurvedic self-massage, also known as Abhyanga, is one of the most beneficial exercises for our wellbeing. It grounds us and allows for a moment to appreciate our body and mind. When doing so in a deliberate, therapeutic way, it can help to increase circulation, reduce inflammation, boost longevity, and clear any bodily obstructions including stagnation, heaviness, and blockages. Our Absolute Essential Self Massage Oil is light and luxurious, so it blends beautifully over skin and lends a silky quality with every touch. Nourishing and healing organic ingredients drench the skin and muscles in moisture, while also helping the body to naturally detoxify and invigorate.
Sesame and mustard oil are highly useful for de-stressing deep tissue and promoting mind-body wellness. Studies have shown that Mustard oil can fight off infection, soothe body pain, and reduce fever. Similarly, studies also show that Sesame oil can improve pre-existing problem areas by providing pain relief and helping recovery from wounds. As an ozonated oil with high tensile strength, sesame oil acts as a collagen agent in treating these areas. Calamus oil is also well-researched as another anti-inflammatory agent that also promotes pain relief.
During this time of heightened vata, it is likely that most will feel more anxious and experience disruptions in sleep patterns, so self-care becomes very important. It is beneficial to go to bed earlier and take time to meditate to calm nerves. Also try rubbing your feet with sesame oil at bed time for a more restful night of sleep. UMA Pure Rest is great for solid, uninterrupted sleep. And, UMA Pure Calm, is great to ease anxiety and calm the mind before bed time.
Ayurveda and Yoga are often considered sister sciences, in part because of their focus on holistic equilibrium of the mind and body. Yoga, and specific asanas within its practice, can have a powerful impact on normalizing the vata. Shoulder stand, Cobra, Half Bow are particularly recommended for those experiencing anxiety and hypertension. In addition, backward bends, head stands and plough poses are also very helpful for those that can integrate these slightly more advanced asanas in their practice.
Meditation and Pranayama
Breathing exercises (termed pranayama within yoga) rapidly help create balance within the mind and body. Just as in Yoga, there are various kinds of pranayama techniques, and for anxiety, “alternate nostril breathing” is most recommended. Just as it sounds, use your thumb to close one of your nasal passages while inhaling and exhaling deeply from the other, exercising deep, slow breathing. Repeat on the other side.
Foods that normalize the vata element in the body are encouraged in Fall. Some of the encouraged foods include avocado, bananas, berries, coconut, cooked vegetables, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini, oats (cooked), rice and wheat. Foods such as dried fruits, apples, cranberries, pears, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, potatoes, and barley. And, you should avoid foods that aggravate the vata element and should be avoided such dried fruits, apples, cranberries, pears, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, potatoes, barley, buckwheat and corn.
Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha and Brahmi are particularly helpful in vata season as they help balance an overactive mind, and empower the body's natural stress management responses.
A therapeutic Ayurvedic herb, Brahmi (also known as bacopa) is hailed for its ability to help support mental sharpness. It rejuvenates the mind and boosts mental stamina to improve productivity. Brahmi is touted for its nootropic benefits—meaning it’s a star for cognitive function. Growing research over the past several decades has directly linked Brahmi to being a key player in overall brain enhancement and memory improvement. (These studies have also unlocked “a myriad of possible mechanisms relating to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, metal chelation, amyloid, and cholinergic effects amongst many others.”). Perhaps even more profound, Brahmi is looked to for having strong potential in the treatment of neurological disorders, including Alzeheimer’s Disease. Brahmi is also said to enhance consciousness and promote quality sleep.
A true rasayana (a restorative Ayurvedic therapy), Ashwagandha - a potent adaptogen - is chock full of balancing and harmonizing benefits. With regular use, it gently guides your body to better respond to external and internal stressors, helping boost vitality, ease stress, and enhance function. It can also provide immunity-enhancing effects, antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and help to support cognitive function, and a healthy nervous system.