It’s fall – a time of transition and change. The leaves begin to change colors and fall off the trees. The days get shorter again, the weather gets cooler (I love fleece/jeans/puffy vest season), and we begin to crave warmer, heartier foods. Kids go back to school, and we “fall” into a new routine from September until December.
According to Yoga’s sister science Ayurveda (translates to “Science of Lifestyle”); these natural shifts are all part of moving into the season of Vata. Vata dosha, or constitution, embodies the energies and qualities of the air and ether elements… I like to think of it “wind moving through space”. Vata has the characteristics of light (opposite of heavy), dry, cold, and rough (opposite of smooth).
Personally, I feel and notice “vata imbalance” more than any other ayurvedic imbalance. Vata imbalance can manifest in various ways such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, forgetfulness, constipation, dry skin, loss of focus, and a feeling of ungroundedness. At this time of year, I know I need to be more mindful of my actions and routine in order to balance or pacify any vata imbalance tendencies.
Here are some tips to stay balanced in this (or any other) time of change and transition:
1. Stay well hydrated. Some of the characteristics of vata dosha include dry and rough. Drinking plenty of fluids helps balance these by introducing the water element into the body.
2. Stay warm. Vata is the only dosha that has the cold quality. This is a great time for soups, hot tea, warm meals, wool socks, and extra layers. I also love hot baths at this time of year. The warmth is soothing and pacifies anxiety and reduces stress in the musculature of the body.
3. Add oil. The thick and heavy qualities of oil balance the light and dry of vata. This can be making sure you take your essential fatty acids (fish oil) daily, adding some olive, sunflower or safflower oil to recipes (salad dressings and baking), nut butters (yum!!!), or my favorite – abhyanga (oil massage)! As soon as I know someone is moving towards vata imbalance the first thing I suggest is oiling the feet. You can use any massage oil (grapeseed, jojoba or sweet almond) or any oil you would eat (olive, sunflower, safflower, sesame – not toasted sesame… too smelly). Use a dime sized amount in the palm of your hand, rub it between your hands to warm the oil, and then massage your feet. Make sure you are looking at your feet while you massage them. Whatever feels good. I do this every day. When you are done, put socks on and away you go. You can also massage your whole body if you want – it’s amazing!
4. Be in your body. Dedication to whatever physical practices you have – be slow, mindful and deliberate. Remember “wind” blows around fast and all over the place 🙂 Cultivate slow, mindful and deliberate movements. For asana practice work with standing, balancing, and seated poses. Longer holds, easy steady breathing. We can use embodiment as a way to access the earth element within us (bones and muscles) which help to ground us.
5. Breathe. Take a breath break 🙂 Pranayama techniques such as the abdominal breath or gentle ujjayi (ocean sounding breath) can slow us down and ground us.
6. Rest. Take breaks, naps, book some time for quiet… The best way to become vata imbalanced is to be too busy! Go, go, go is the vata imbalance mantra. In order to balance this out, slow down, rest, relax in whatever way works for you and nurtures your body-mind and soul.
7. Consistent Routine. If anyone just balked then you likely have a lot of vata and need this the most 🙂 Consistency and steadiness help to ground the light blowiness of the wind. I’m not saying every day has to be the exact same (that would not make sense), however having a regular wake and to bed time, making sure you are eating regularly (if you’re a 3 meal a day person, do that. if you’re a 6 small meal a day person, do that), to the best of your ability doing your practices at around the same time every day. These all really helps with grounding.
These are the things I do to help ground and stay balanced in any time of change. I hope something in this list (which is not exhaustive, this email has to end eventually) is helpful in balancing the windiness of life and season.
As part of this season of change, I have an announcement!
I discovered a few weeks ago that I can apply to have my Yoga Teacher Training School recognized as a Private Educational Institution with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). I’ve been busily working away on the application for the past two weeks (it is quite the process). One of the requirements is to have a registered business name in Ontario that is not my personal name (like I’ve been doing – operating under Mona L. Warner Yoga School) and not a numbered company. And so it is with joy and excitement that I share with you the new and official business name of my Yoga Teacher Training School:
Janati is a sanskrit word that translates to “learn” or “experience”. I’m going to use it as “learn through experience”. I feel this really encapsulates one of the key pieces of yoga, which is to learn by doing, through your own experiences, which allows your inner teacher to come forward and guide you in every step!
Please know that over the next few months there will be changes to the website as the design and content is updated to integrate this new facet of Janati Yoga.
This also means that those of you who are choosing to register as RYT (Registered Yoga Teachers) with the Yoga Alliance will choose “Janati Yoga” from the list as the YTT School you trained at.
Also, starting November 2011, I will be sending the newsletter out on the 5th of the month instead of the 1st. 🙂
Enjoy your seasons of change!!!
Om Shantih and Prema (universal peace & love),
Mona L. Warner, ERYT500 & RYS500