How Ayurveda can help you this Autumn
Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga and the oldest known medical system in the world, offers some great tools for increasing your general well-being this time of year. It isn't a magic pill; It is a framework that helps you create gradual changes in your habits for the better. That is why it is important to start simple with things that you enjoy. So, here in the season of transformation, with the leaves falling, the weather cooling and the harvest, what are you most willing to change from your list of unhealthy habits?
Ayurveda helps to guide us in treating a disease or ailment by providing principles, like treating the disease with the qualities opposite to its nature. “The qualities of nature are said to be either heavy or light, cold or hot, stable or mobile, sharp or dull, moist or dry, subtle or gross, dense or flowing, soft or hard, smooth or rough and cloudy or clear. A person, a disease or a remedy is understood to have a unique combination of these qualities. Cold diseases are treated with warm remedies, heavy diseases are treated with light remedies, and so on" -Dr. Halpern.
Some ideas for how to apply this principle to your yoga practice relate to which poses to use and how to perform them. We can employ useful Ayurvedic tools to adjust our yogic practices based on the season, time of day, stage of life, and general doshic (energetic) imbalances we know we have. Also, the same asana should be done differently depending upon your age, sex and physical condition. In fall vata dosha is the dominate dosha or energy. We can maintain internal balance to the shift in season by adjusting the poses we do pose and foods we eat, and our lifestyle in ways that naturally hold the opposite qualities to vata energy.
The qualities of vata are cold, dry, rough, light, changeable, irregular, and moving. Because of vata’s association with the nervous system, its state is often reflected in our mental health. With the abundance of this airy energy circulating during the fall season, our bodies and minds can become overwhelmed and out of balance, causing us to feel unsettled, ungrounded and unstable. George Feurerstein, in his book, The Yoga Tradition, says, “Physical disease can effect the mind adversely, and mental imbalance can lead to illnesses of all kinds, Ayurveda's notion of a healthy life includes that it must be both happy (sukha) and morally good (hita).
Building a routine, by scheduling your yoga practice at the same time every day and for the same length of time can calm the chaotic vata energy. Emphasize poses that focus on the lungs and large intestines, as these are the two organs associated with the fall season.
7 FALL YOGA POSES
1. Twists: Revolved Triangle Pose, Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, Noose Pose
2. Side Stretches: Revolved Head-to-Knee pose, Side-Angle Pose
3. Backbends: Bridge Pose, Camel Pose, Bow Pose
4. Warrior I and Warrior II Pose
5. Tree Pose: "The winds of change blow strong in the fall, but if you can learn to be steady like a tree and also sway with the wind, you will be resilient. What doesn’t bend, breaks.” —Dana Meltzer Zepeda
6. Sun Salutations warm up the body during the chill of fall
7. Enjoy a long Savasana (Corpse Pose) to stabilize the moving energy of vata.