To remain healthy, our bodies need a little support between each transition from one season to the next. This is more necessary now than ever. There was a time when the weather was a little more predictable and our lives a bit more geographically bound. This made it easier to move from the heat of summer to the cooler temperatures of fall. Or the colder winter weather to the freshness of spring. With climate changes and international travel, these seasonal transitions can be challenging. However, there are ways we can support our bodies as the shifts of nature occur––or as our geographical location changes.
Ayurveda, a natural eastern approach to bringing balance to the mind, body, and spirit, often holds the key to a successful, healthy body during all seasons. Let’s take a look at the transition from warmer climates, when pitta abounds to cooler, dryer one, when vata is likely to be dominant.
When the weather turns colder and drier (qualities associated with vata) and we move out of the fire of pitta energy in the summer, it’s a good time to reduce our intake of raw foods. It takes more digestive fire (agni) or energy to digest our foods. And when our digestion slows down or becomes impeded by less than ideal food choices, we become sluggish and our bodies become breeding grounds for illness.
According to Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai, authors of The Ayurvedic Cookbook, the fall is the most important time to attend to diet. This is the time when the attribute of motion is most prevalent. We’re “on the go a lot, mentally, physically, or both.” This requires grounding. Warm, nourishing foods will help us do that. They say to make sure food is “warm, moist, and well-lubricated. Soup, hot drinks, and rice with a little oil” are beneficial for this.
Chef Michael Monroe suggests increasing the use of spices such as cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, to name a few,to bring warmth to our dishes and our bodies. Additionally, acorn squash stuffed with walnuts seasoned much like sausage is a good way to support the body and tantalize the taste buds. Warm muffins are also an added culinary treat that do more than just satisfy our sweet tooth. See the Chocolate Chip Recipe below to warm your soul and your body.
SunWater spa offers the following to support your practice and your body in cooler weather:
Begin in a low lunge and then straighten and flex the front leg, by shifting your weight. This circulates the lymph through the legs and cleanses the body of toxins.
While sitting, place two soft fists on either side of the belly button. Do a forward fold over your fists, and gently massage your stomach for 3-4 breaths. Sit straight, and then repeat the action several times after moving your hands to different locations around the belly. However, do not perform this massage after eating.
Sooth your skin, which may become drier during this season, with a self-massage, using unrefined organic sesame oil. (Avoid using coconut oil as this can have a cooling effect–––the exact opposite of what we want to do at this time.) Apply oil to the feet and hands first. Circle around the joints and gently work the oil into other parts of your body. Apply to your face and then massage your scalp as well. Leave on as long as possible and then shower to rinse off excess oil and the toxins that have been released in the process.
Flowing with the Light
Cooler weather associated with vata energy can leave us feeling scattered and fragmented.
Routines are important during this time as well. Consistent times to go to sleep and to awake are important. Eating on a regular schedule is as well.
And as the days become shorter, honoring our desire to cozy up next to the fireplacewill create a solid foundation for health.Rather than push to get things done and keep in constant motion, opt for nourishing your self. Self-care often begins with quieting our bodies so that our minds can also be still. This practice rejuvenates us in body, mind, and soul. More on that in our next blog.
Chocolate Chip Muffins
3 flax eggs
7.5 tbsp water
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp flaxseed meal
3 cups garbanzo bean or oat flour
1 tsp each of clove, allspice & ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups Almond meal
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl. Then mix dry ingredients in another. Then blend the two mixtures together. Bake 350 degrees for45-50 minutes in lightly oiled muffin pans.