Autumn. The days are getting shorter. The light has that special golden quality. I’m deep in the magical rhythm of holiday creations; fragrant pomanders, melted beeswax and hand dipped candles, and herbal alchemy with summer and autumn harvests for natural immunity and health. It’s a wonderful time of year which I dearly love.
It is also dry and cool. Which in part feels delicious after the epic humid heat of our Santa Barbara summer this year. It also leads to dryness in the body and cold which can put us at risk for imbalance and illness.
In Ayurveda, each season is associated with one of the three doshas, or mind body types. Autumn is understood as the season of vata, air and ether. It is typically cold and dry. In our bodies this can show up as dry skin and also dry mucous membranes due to the dryness outdoors and the dry heat within our homes.
There are many ways to maintain balance during the cold, dry season of autumn. Staying bundled up when it is cold, which means in our area being prepared for your day with layers, as it warms up considerably during the daytime hours, is very important.
Drinking plenty of water, especially warm water and tea throughout the day is another way to combat cold, keep hydrated,and insure the lymph system is flowing. Using warming spices like ginger and clove for teas and in cooking is another way to keep our digestive fire burning and avoid toxic buildup during the seasons when we tend to eat heavier foods. Eating grounding root vegetables like beets, carrots, and potatoes helps to keep us grounded in the windy, high, ethereal days of fall. Lightly steaming or cooking vegetables during this time of year is important, versus eating them raw, as raw foods have more air and ether and tend to cause more gas and be more difficult to digest. Raw foods are better to ingest during the spring when we are looking to detox after the heaviness of fall and winter, but less desirable during the fall.
Oleation, or oiling, both internally and externally is an excellent way to keep our body hydrated and protected from foreign invaders. Abhyanga, or daily self massage, can be done with plain sesame oil or herb infused oils and helps to keep the skin from drying out as well as keeping pathogens from getting in. You can refer to my blog on the Art of Abhyanga for more information on how to perform a daily self massage. Abhyanga increases immune function through encouraging movement in the lymph and releasing the bodies own pharmacy of healing chemicals. It is a delicious way to stay hydrated and healthy.
Nasya, or oiling the nasal passages is a traditional Ayurvedic practice which I do daily in the autumn and winter seasons. Plain or herb infused sesame oil is applied with a dropper to the nasal passages and then gently massaged in to create a protective antimicrobial and anti-bacterial layer to keep pathogens out while keeping the nasal passages lubricated and avoiding the body’s reaction to overproduce mucous when the mucous membranes get dry, thereby avoiding creation of the perfect breeding ground for colds and flus.
These are just a few simple and effective ways to promote natural immunity and avoid illness and imbalance during the vata season of Autumn. Blessings of health and happiness to you and your family. Namaste, Liz