Transitioning from summer to fall can be difficult on our system and our mindset. There are many things we can do to help make the transition a little smoother and easier to cope with.
Fall is one of the most magical times of year. When the leaves begin to change from shades of green into purples, golds, pinks, and reds, there is a sense of ease and warmth. Fall is considered the start to vata season, which takes full swing through the winter. Fall still has some traces of summer with some warm sunny days, late summer vegetables, and sleeping with the windows open. As the light begin the fade and days become shorter, that feeling of warmth the leaves gives us is a reminder that cold days are coming and we would do well to make some diet and lifestyle preparations to be ready for the oncoming winter months. Ayurveda has some helpful tips for making that transition easier.
The qualities of vata are cool, dry, rough, hard, mobile, and spacious. Ayurveda offers us simple tools to make the transition from warm to cold by cultivating a feeling of warmth, heaviness, and stability. The fall helps ease us from the heat of the summer to the cold of the winter. We will still see some summer vegetables in the fall, depending on the climate you live in, like broccoli, peas, peppers, and others. The flavors of summer, sweet, bitter, and astringent, will come through in some of these later vegetables and fruits. This is important because winter is all about incorporating foods that are sweet, sour, and salty and the sweet flavor is the bridge between the two. Remember, sweet taste is more than just eating chocolate and and candy. Although those fall in the sweet category, sweet taste shows up in foods like dairy, grains, meats, etc.
As fall begins to incorporate these new tases in the diet through the produce that is available naturally, we also want to consider the qualities of the foods we are eating. In the summer, our foods are light, crisp, and cool. We see these qualities in melons, berries, cucumbers, etc. As we transition to colder months, incorporating heavier, warmer, and dense foods will help us stay warm and help us feel cozy inside. Thinking of the foods we see available in the fall and winter, this makes sense. Typically, these foods are best in the fall:
- Nuts (especially pecans and almonds)
- Potatoes (especially sweet)
- Fruits (apples, dates, figs, lemons, oranges)
- Grains (wheat, oats, amaranth, quinoa)
- Dairy (cow, goat, soft cheeses)
- Oils (ghee, sunflower and almond oil)
- Legumes (kidney, mung, urad)
- Warming spices (cinnamon, chilies, pepper, anise, clover oregano, cardamom, ginger, saffron, rosemary)
In terms of diet, think all the warm, comforting, sticky, heavy foods like chili, mac and cheese, pastas, casseroles, etc. Although in the fall season
A daily routine incorporating abhyanga, the self oil massage, is perfect for creating warmth and nourishment for your skin. This is the perfect time to incorporate slower practices like yin or restorative yoga, meditation, journaling, and other forms of self-reflection and introspection. Take the time to think about what you have done over the last few days, weeks, or months and determine whether your choices are helping you move in the direction you want to be going or if they are derailing you. What can you learn from your experiences to help move you along your path with a little more ease.
In Ayurveda there is an adage that like increases like and opposites balance. Remember the qualities becoming fo fall, cool, dry, rough, hard, mobile, and spacious. See how much warmth, moisture, smoothness, softness, stillness, and stability you can incorporate into your life in all possible ways.