Good work week to you all! And a belated Happy Veterans Day to all of you that have served or have stood by family members who have served. I hope you all had a wonderful day and enjoyed yourselves! Yesterday, I took the opportunity to lead a Yoga and Ayurveda workshop to a few local students. The focus was an introduction to Ayurveda and how to live a “3-season” lifestyle through Ayurveda and Yoga, specifically focusing on the Fall/Winter (current) season. I thought a few of you who live farther away may be interested, so I have added the handout below. Enjoy!
Yoga for the Seasons: An Ayurvedic approach to Yoga and Diet
Jessi Andricks, RYT
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian medicinal system that arose around the same time as yoga; they are often called “sister” sciences. Ayurveda focuses on bringing the body back into balance through food, exercise, and holistic lifestyle practices (yoga, meditation, pranayama, etc.).
What are doshas?
In Ayurveda, each person has a unique balance that works for them. This balance is made up of your “dosha” or individual constitution. The three main doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Although a person can be made up mostly of one of these doshas, or of a combination of the three, we each have one that is slightly more dominant than the others.
Vata qualities tend to be airy, cold, and dry. The Vata dominant frame is thin, with narrow bones and features, and does not gain weight easily. An out of balance Vata experiences anxiety, depression, worry, and fatigue, due to an airy, racing mind and a sense of being ungrounded. A balanced Vata is creative and artistic. Vata tends to forget to eat meals and instead graze throughout the day. Vatas energy tends to come in bursts with lower overall reserves. Vata is a light sleeper, but needs 8 hours of sleep or more.
Pitta tends to be fiery, hot, and dry. Pitta tends to be athletic in nature, built with a strong, medium sized frame, and steady weight. When a Pitta is out of balance, they are quick to anger due to their fiery nature. When they are balanced, they are highly driven and intelligent. A Pitta dominant person needs to eat meals regularly, as they tend to experience deep hunger and blood sugar drops. Pitta has steady energy levels, allowing them to be driven in work and play. Pitta needs a steady sleep, approximately 8 hours.
Kapha qualities are cold, oily, and earthy. Kapha is the most grounded of the three doshas, sometimes too grounded. An imbalanced Kapha tends towards depression and lethargy due to their earthy, grounded nature. A balanced Kapha is loyal and loving. Kaphas have large bone structure and gain weight easily. They also have large energy reserves but have a hard time staying motivated to tap into them. Kapha can usually get away with less sleep (6 hours), but tends to seek more sleep.
How do seasons affect our inner balance?
Ayurveda looks at each person as an individual, aligned with nature. When nature is out of balance, our bodies and minds often feel out of balance.
Spring (and late winter) is Kapha season. In spring, the air is slowly warming up and filled with thick moisture, much like oily Kapha. Spring is a great time to detox from the long winter. Focus on eating seasonal, fibrous fruits and vegetables. Use the energy reserves stored from the winter to exercise a bit harder. This is a great time for running or more vigorous yoga practices. In spring, we invite warmth back into the body and add a sense of lightness to break away from the heavy qualities brought in for fall and winter.
Pitta is dominant in the fiery heat of summer. Summer is hot, slightly drier than spring, and definitely fiery. In the summer, take your exercise out of the heat. Try swimming or just slowing down a bit. Focus on the abundance of water rich fruits and veggies that are available this season. Incorporate cooling breath and yoga practices into your daily practices to counteract the heat. In summer, we look to cool the body so we can use the steady energy through the longer days into the shorter nights.
Vata is dominant in the fall and early winter seasons. This is the time of year when things become a bit chilly, dry, and windy, which can happen to our bodies and minds as well. In the fall, we might see Vata qualities of anxiety and worry creeping up more often. During the fall, we focus on grounding to remove the airy qualities and warmth to remove the chill. Focus on eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as root vegetables. Root vegetables are seasonal, but also grown in the ground, so they have energetic properties of being grounded. Exercise should be slow but heating. Too slow will allow the mind to wander into anxiety and worry, too fast will only increase the wind in our minds. A slower, steady pace will keep the mind engaged and allow you to focus on finding the earth below you to find a sense of being grounded.
Fall Yoga Practice:
– Focus on slower flow
– Balanced, steady breath to calm the mind
– Pranayama: alternate nostril breathing
– Meditation: use a mantra to keep the mind focused
– Some external heat is ok, but also look for heat to build from within
– Find your connection to the ground in each pose
– Feel your tailbone/pelvis dropping towards the earth – this is where you hold you root chakra (energy/nerve center) for grounding
Fall Foods: High Fat and High Protein
– Root vegetables
– Proteins help to ground you (nuts or some organic meat and fish, some beans are ok)
– Fat helps to keep your body lubricated and counteract dryness
– Seasonal fruits and vegetables (nature knows what you need!)
– Limit raw foods (salads) or add fats to help digest and move through system
– Drin hot tea and water to warm the body
– Take warm baths with sesame oil
– Light sandalwoods and lavender candles to ground and relax you
– Use sesame oil on body to lock in moisture and prevent dry skin (sesame oil has warming qualities)
– Meditate daily (or sit quietly with a thought) or journal to help still the mind and increase focus
– Watch out for mindless eating and spending: stay conscious to when and why you are doing either of these (as our mind chatter increases, our awareness drops)
– Make whole, seasonal dishes
– Eat before parties or bring a dish with you
– Limit alcoholic beverages as they only increase Vata
– Stay mindful during cravings – why is it you are “needing” a certain food,
– Stay mindful and aware during meals (especially on the holidays) to help prevent overeating
*Remember food is just food. We need it to survive, but not to make us a better person. Cravings will come and go and you will still be you. *
The 3 Season Diet, by John Douillard
The Yoga Body Diet, by Kristen Dollard and John Douillard
The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, by Dr. Vasant Lad
Mind, Body, and Sport, by John Douillard
Yoga and Ayurveda, by David Frawley
Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing, by Dr. Vasant Lad
Hope you found this helpful! Please feel free to send any questions or comments.
Peace and love,