Happy full moon everyone!
This week I’m back with my favorite fall self-care tips. To take better care of ourselves during these colder months of the year, we first have to understand the Ayurvedic concept of vata energy. If you read last week’s newsletter, you already have a basic understanding of Ayurveda, yay!
Remember, Ayurveda teaches that if we want to be healthy, we have to stay balanced, or at least try to balance ourselves. Right now, if we live in the western hemisphere, we are entering into vata season. Thus, we need to learn the most effective way to balance excess vata energy.
Balancing vata energy is not just important during the fall. I’ve heard it said that more than 80% of all imbalances are caused by imbalanced vata and that vata is responsible for almost all mental illness and the ongoing effects of trauma. Thus, it’s super duper important to pay attention to your vata.
With that, let’s dive in!
A review: The qualities of vata energy are dry, cold, light, quick, and unstable. I love comparing vata to the thin layer of ice that forms over a frozen puddle. This little sheet of ice crystals can be oddly beautiful, and yet the veneer cracks the moment we apply pressure. Vata is also a cold gust of wind or the deep, dark depths of outer space.
One of the most important aspects of vata is how quickly it changes. Because it moves so fast, it’s challenging to consciously track how vata can throw us off balance. Suddenly, we just feel off. Also, vata energy is responsible for all transitions. This means we are getting the double-whammy of vata during this transition from summer to fall.
Physically, too much vata energy gives me cold hands and feet, causes my back to ache, and makes my skin dry and flaky. Especially when I travel (which also imbalances vata), I get constipated and have trouble sleeping.
Mentally/emotionally, I experience vata as the compulsion to change my outfit 10 times before leaving the house. My imbalanced vata energy triggers my feelings of isolation, spurs overwhelm and brings out my social anxiety. After weeks of feeling pretty good about myself, my excess vata energy makes me suddenly doubt everything I’m working on.
Too much vata makes me spin my mental, emotional and physical wheels. When I’m in a vata tailspin, I’m exhausted but feel like I NEED TO DO SO MUCH MORE TO KEEP UP. (I think imbalanced vata is always shouting.)
So, what do we do if we are experiencing cold feet, dry skin, frantic thoughts and other sorts of vata-infused instability?
Well, my dear, we must search for balance. And to balance vata, we simply need to give ourselves the opposite of the vata qualities.
This means we need to find self-care that is oily, warm, heavy, slow and stable.
How do we do that?
Here are a few balancing examples:
Oily self-care: Add a drizzle of nice olive oil to your soup or give yourself an oily foot rub.
Warm self-care: Place a hot water bottle by your feet or make sure you are properly bundled up in and out of your house (I keep extra throw blankets in each room so it’s easy to add a layer).
Heavy self-care: Trade in your lunchtime salads for heavier cooked foods (I love this tomatoey, cheesy recipe) or do grounding restorative yoga with sandbags as props.
Slow self-care: Commit to slowing down your pace for the five minutes before you leave the house or give yourself twice as long to do any stressful task.
Stable self-care: Eat your breakfast and lunch at the same time everyday (bonus points if you can create a consistent dinner time too) and spend time with friends who make you feel relaxed.
This is the essential balancing practice: Whenever you feel out of balance, try to name the quality of the imbalance (too fast, too heavy, too exciting, etc). Then, name the opposite of that quality (slower, lighter, more boring). After, find a self-care practice that promotes that opposite quality (scheduling fewer dates, eating more vegetables, spending time with less dramatic friends).
Do you get the gist? If you’re stumped, write me with an example of where you feel out of balance in your self-care. I’ll write back with my best guess at the opposite quality and a self-care practice to help you stay balanced.
I believe our world would be a better place if we all made more of an effort to balance our vata energy, especially during the fall seasonal shift and during our other big life transitions. I see so many of our collective scarcity fears - and the ways that these fears are manipulated by people in power - fueled by too much vata energy. When we are anxious, isolated and running around without focus, we aren’t much help to anyone.
Balancing our vata means living a life that is grounded in reality, steeped with self-trust and committed to our own ongoing healing. When we are doing our best to balance our vata, we stay committed to our values, find creative solutions for our problems and realize that we are good enough as we actually are.
With that, I wish you a most oily, warm, heavy, slow and stable transition to fall! We need you to be cultivating these balancing qualities - first in your own life and then out in the greater world.