It’s here folks, vata season. Just in time for holiday season, and as some of you know, vata season + holiday season = the perfect storm for a mental breakdown, explosion, or some other debilitating experience.
In Ayurveda, vata is made up of the air and ether elements. When in balance it helps one to be more creative, to move around easily and allow change, it can be inspiring and spiritual.
When out of balance, it can increase the effects of anxiety, ungroundedness, overwhelm, the inability to focus on one thing. One will tend to skip sitting down for meals and just grab some snacks to get by, or get so wrapped up in thoughts or nervousness that they forget to eat.
This time of the year- late fall into winter is vata season. When cold increases, and our skin gets drier, and the effects listed above tend to become stronger. This, combined with the hectic pressures of the holidays makes the stress levels even higher, and many, eventually crash or have some sort of meltdown.
The good news is that there are some things that you can do to help bring balance to the season and what may be going on in your body. Here’s a few:
Drink water. I know this may seem obvious but ARE you drinking enough water? The minimum amount you need is around half of your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 lbs, you need to drink 75 ozs a day. If you are drinking enough and still feel dried out, add a pinch of marshmallow root or licorice root (avoid licorice with high blood pressure) to your water and let it sit a few hours before drinking. Also, always drink your water warm or at room temperature.
Take time to ground yourself. Yes, you. Vata is air and ether, to balance this you need to bring in the water (refer to number 1) and earth elements. There are many ways you can do this. One is to take a calming walk out in nature. You could also sit on the ground and do some slow nourishing stretching. Or sit and breath deeply set a timer or a specific number and stick with it- e.g. 10 rounds of deep inhale and exhale.
Eat warm cooked foods. This is soup weather! Make nourishing soups and add a dollop of olive or sesame oil on top. Eat less raw veggies this time of year, as that is more cooling and harder to digest.
Sit down to eat your meals. Take a deep breath (or 3) in before beginning, and stop to bless your food and give thanks. Seriously, this makes a huge difference in your digestion.
Oil, oil, oil. Oiling your feet before bed, especially with a little essential oil brings your energy back down out of your head and helps you to calm down. Or even better, do a self abhyanga. This is better in the morning, but get it in when you can. Applying oil to the entire body pacifies vata, soothes the nerves, and makes the skin supple and happy. Do this daily and you will certainly notice a difference.
Bundle up. Protect yourself from the cold winds, they do further exacerbate the effects of vata. If you are already feeling some of the things that were listed above or have tendencies towards them, then keep the cold wind away as much as possible.
Try to do one thing at a time. Stay focused, try not to overcommit, and say no when you need to. This is another practice of grounding yourself. The vata tendency is to try to do everything and finish nothing, or get overwhelmed and drop it all. If this is you, your medicine is to create new habits to slow down and find your way to reduce overwhelm.
Use warming spices. Its not a coincidence that the spices of the season are so warming- cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, clove, ginger, etc. Add these to your teas, hot cocoas, oatmeal, and anything else you can. These help to balance the cold of the season, and yes, the cooling actions of vata, not to mention that they almost all have anti microbial and mind soothing properties. They are the perfect addition to almost anything during the season.
* if you would like to book the ultimate vata pacifying body therapies, click here!