Balance Your Vata This Autumn

In many parts of the country, this year’s transition to fall isn’t being marked with the changing colors of leaves. With hurricane season taking a devastatingly fierce toll in the south and southeast and a heat wave and wildfires spreading across the west and northwest, I’m not feeling the signature crispness and anticipation of autumn just yet.

Still, vata, the dominant energy of autumn, is in the air. Vata often brings a sense of buoyancy and spaciousness, but it can also heighten already-existing tensions. Even if you’re among the fortunate not directly grappling with a natural disaster, the change of season may leave you feeling anxious, scattered, and fatigued.

Luckily, some of the best ways to balance vata in the fall are the most intuitive. While autumn highlights the vata elements of motion, ether and air, it also provides the resources to ground us: The harvest offers sweet, dense fruits and vegetables, the decreasing sunlight encourages more time in bed, and falling snowflakes or a blazing hearth provide the perfect objects of meditation. Everything we can do to stay warm, nourished, and grounded will benefit us this vata season.

Use this guide to stay grounded and keep your blustery vata inclinations in check this fall.

What To Eat To Balance Vata This Fall

A good guideline for any time of year, eat what’s in season. In many places, that includes:

In general, increase your intake of sweet and heavy foods and filling grains, seeds, and nuts, such as:

Dairy is especially nourishing in the fall, and oils like sesame and olive oil are grounding and great for cooking or drizzling. As much as possible, avoid raw foods and indulge in hot soups, stews, and casseroles, and keep sugar intake to a minimum, as it can aggravate vata energy. Finally, make an effort to eat regularly—as school and work schedules rev up and holiday season approaches, it’s easy to skip a meal, but regular meals balance erratic energy.

What To Drink To Balance Vata This Fall

Just like with food, think sweet and warm: hot water with lemonwarm milk or milk alternative with a little sweetener (try this golden milk recipe), or tea: brahmi, ginger, ashwagandha, triphala, cardamom, valerian, and cinnamon are all good choices that warm, ground, and relieve stress.

Stay hydrated—our liquid intake tends to decrease when the temperature goes down, but it’s still important to drink plenty of water, especially for vata types.

How To Exercise To Balance Vata This Fall

It’s tempting to exercise vigorously to warm the body up, but if you’re feeling frazzled, focus on activities with smooth, gentle movements.

Walking, biking, hiking, and tai chi are all great vata season choices. Vata-pacifying yoga styles include gentle vinyasa flow, yin yoga, and restorative yoga.

To make your home yoga practice more balancing for the fall, go for stretching poses on the floor, staying close to the earth. When practicing standing poses, ground down through all four corners of the foot and hold the pose for five or more breaths. Move through connections slowly and mindfully, and make use of lots of props.

How To Practice Self-Care & Balance Vata This Fall

Ayurvedic specialists often believe vata plays a part in the spreading of illness in the body, making self-care especially important. Try:

  • Self-massage (Abhyanga) with sesame or almond oil
  • Baths
  • Meditation
  • Shirodhara—an Ayurvedic therapy in which a practitioner applies a stream of warm oil to the forehead to soothe the nervous system
  • Jala neti—clearing your nasal passages with a neti pot

As light dwindles, our bodies tend to crave more sleep—if possible, allow yourself extra time in bed.

While in excess, vata can cause restlessness and anxiety, it also fosters creativity, so make space in your day to express yourself.

Following the impulse toward coziness and hygge this fall will help you stay healthy and enjoy the change of seasons.