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From summer to autumn: how to be prepared for the change in seasons

23rd augustus 2016

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The fundamentals of Ayurveda rest on the three constitutional dosha: vata, pitta and kapha. They govern all functioning of the body and mind and keeping all three in check is the key to overall wellbeing. Use our quiz to find your dosha profile.

The change in atmosphere and temperature moving from the bright summer months into the changeable months of autumn doesn’t just affect climate; it also affects our body and mind.  

Balancing vata

With an extravaganza of golden colour, autumn is a beautiful season. However, the characteristic windy, cold and dry weather naturally aggravates the vata dosha, which is governed by the element air. Keeping our vata in check during this seasonal change is key to feeling fit and healthy. 

Interestingly, vata is also responsible for all communication and movement in the body; the flow of breath and blood, elimination of wastes and expression of speech for example. It’s a bit like a current of electricity, responsible for regulation of all electrical impulses in the body and mind. 

So, how can we keep our inner vata in balance? Here are a few top tips:

• Rise early when the world is still calm.

• If you can spare the time, have a five to ten minute morning self-massage with a warming and relaxing oil. This offsets seasonal tendencies to dryness, joint cracking, stiff muscle pain and poor circulation.

• Drink teas which include calming herbs such as chamomile and marshmallow root. Pukka’s Relax tea is a good place to start.

• Try to eat warm, sweet, mildly spicy, sour and salty foods - soups, casseroles, ghee, hemp seed oil and kicharee are all great for keeping vata in check. 

Preparing for the winter: fasting

Ayurveda suggests that the autumn is a good month to perform a seasonal cleanse to prepare for the winter ahead and to clear the excess heat accumulated during the pitta summer months. Kapha types are particularly prone to accumulation and a seasonal cleanse can be especially beneficial for them. A successful fast leaves you feeling lighter, refreshed and energised.

The first and most important point to consider when cleansing is to pick a fast that suits your personal constitution. There are many types of fasts; water fasts, fruit juice fasts, rice fasts, soup fasts, kicharee fasts. Here are some top tips for each of the three dosha:

• Kapha types store energy and have a tendency to be too static. They can tolerate longer fasts and benefit the most from them. Their fasts can be more light soup/broth based or just hot water and spicy teas.

• Pitta types are good at managing energy but accumulate excess heat and inflammation. They benefit from a fast of one to three days and can manage on fruit or vegetable juices as their high levels of digestive fire at the best at breaking down raw fruit and veg.

• Vata types have difficulty holding on to energy and have a tendency to be ungrounded. Fasting must be done with caution and they should only fast for a short time of between one and three days. Their fast should always contain some nourishment and could be a mono fast of brown rice, mung soup or kicharee.

Here are some top tips to keep in mind for anyone undertaking a seasonal fast:

• Drink lots of warm water and replace caffeinated drinks for spicy teas that help to burn toxins. 

• You’re not eating your regular diet, so your body will need time to adjust. Rest and take plenty of sleep.

• There is a saying ‘any fool can fast but it takes a wise one to break it’. It is very important to break a fast slowly, one day fast requires one day of re-introduction to normal diet.

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Katie Pande, Senior Herbal Advisor

Katie is a qualified Medical Herbalist, and member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH), currently practicing in Shaftesbury. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Herbal Medicine and a BSc (Hons) in Plant and Environmental Biology.