Welcome to autumn! There is a lively, enthusiastic quality in the air this season. The leaves on the trees are starting to shout "Hey, look at how I can change colors"! The Canadian Geese are practicing their flying formations and the wind is picking up, encouraging us to pull on our colorful sweaters and bike through the park. It's the time of year associated with images of flowers, fruit and corn overflowing from cornucopias. Yes, even in the city! I am presently looking at my own "cornucopia" of sunflowers, decorative pumpkins and buttercup squash on my table. And anyone who has a CSA farm share knows it’s all about squash right now!
Autumn has this exciting, creative quality that culminates nicely with the prosperity of the harvest season. Therefore, autumn is a wonderful season for us to reflect upon our where we are in our lives and be thankful for all we have created with effort and all that has been created with ease. More fun, more joy, more free time, more work opportunities, more flexibility in mind, body and spirit, more peace of mind, more consistent, sustainable habits of self-care, maybe a new baby or a new love relationship or better communication with our love partner... And if we find we are off track from our intentions for the year, we still have a few months remaining until the year’s end to find our way back.
Yoga's sister science, Ayurveda, associates fall and winter season with the term "Vata". Vata is linked to wind, air, creativity and liveliness, and it is also connected to things that are cold, dry, rough, brittle, and hard- things we easily relate to in the fall and winter seasons. When Vata energy is balanced, we feel active, enthusiastic and creative. When Vata is out of balance, the imbalance shows up in our nervous system as anxiety, nervousness and the inability to gather our thoughts. Think of a gust of wind blowing into your nervous system: Whooossshhhh! All that windy air affects your brain and it's pretty much so long to serenity! In our bodies, Vata imbalance can literally dry us out, and our skin becomes dry and itchy, and our bones and joints ache. We can also have ringing in the ears.
The antidote to Vata imbalance is consistent, nourishing routines of self-care. Think of routine as the lasso that rounds up all the scattered air energy and brings it down to earth. Habits that help us grounded internally are going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same every morning. Daily meditation, yoga and breathing exercises help restore scattered, anxious thoughts or achy bones and joints. Lying on the couch reading a book nourishes both our nervous systems and our spirits. And consuming warm foods and drinks this season will counterbalance the cold quality of the season, soothing our digestive system, helping us feel internally warm and grounded.
Ah, autumn, my favorite time of the year! The blustery season can either be considered lively and creative with leaves changing colors, fun Halloween events and gratitude inducing self reflection or it can feel too cold, too windy and too scattered. No doubt it is the season to maintain healthy habits that will nourish us now and as we prepare for winter.