As we enter September, there is an imperceptible change in the air as the intense heat of summer slowly gives way to the crispness of fall. In Ayurveda, the 2-week transitional period between seasons is known as Ritu Sandhi (literally translates to “the meeting place of seasons”).
According to the Ashtanga Hridayam, one of the primary ancient root texts of Ayurveda, it is said that during Ritu Sandhi, “the regimen of the preceding season should be discontinued gradually and that of the succeeding season should be gradually adopted; sudden discontinuance or sudden adoption gives rise to imbalances caused by asatmya (instability).”
While summer is governed by Pitta dosha (fire and water), fall is linked to Vata dosha (space and air). A Vata imbalance is manifested in dry skin, irregular digestion, stiff muscles and insomnia in the body, and feeling of restlessness and general spacey-ness in the mind.
Did you know that your ability to adapt to seasonal changes will help you to reduce the likelihood of doshic imbalance and diseases? With that in mind, here is a guide to ease your transition from summer to fall.
1. Listen To Your Body's Cues
As you move between seasons, it is important to stay connected with yourself, your body and physical environment. Ask yourself questions like: What is my sleep pattern like? How have my energy levels shifted? Is my skin getting drier or oilier? Be mindful of what is working for you (and what is not!), and allow yourself time to experiment and adjust. For example, you may find yourself going to bed earlier and needing more time to wake up in the morning. Indulge in sunbath therapy when you awake and allow the warm rays of the sun to stimulate sadhaka pitta (known in Ayurveda as the caretaker of your heart) to uplift your mood.
2. Practice Abhyanga massage
As the temperature cools down, Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage) not only calms and grounds the mind, it also nourishes and rejuvenates the skin and revitalises the body. You can also try an express Abhyanga, which is massaging your feet at night and then putting on socks before you go to bed. The best oil to use depends on your dosha and skin type, but we love our Dry Silk Body Oil which is a silky-light blend of Moringa and Apricot oils and scented with our signature Lime Vetiver fragrance.
3. Protect Your Sinuses
Using a netiwash or performing nasya (nasal cleaning) will help lubricate the sinuses and flush out bacteria and viruses while calming your mind, and it is a great way to cleanse and strengthen your system. This is especially useful during COVID-19 as a holistic maintenance of the respiratory tract, and it is simple enough that you can do it yourself at home.
4. Do a Kitchari Cleanse
The Ayurvedic equivalent of souping, a Kitchari cleanse is basically an ancient monodiet of a nourishing, traditional meal made from yellow mung, rice, ghee and aromatic spices (we love this kit from Banyan Botanicals!) that can last anywhere between one to seven days. The idea is to give your body just one thing to digest, allowing it to rest and resetting your agni (digestive fire). You may experience some detox symptoms like fatigue, irritability and headaches as toxins are being ushered out of your system, so make sure you stay hydrated!
5. Eat a Vata-Balancing Diet
You should also move from eating foods like light grains and smoothies to warm and nourishing cooked foods like soups, stews, curries and one-pot meals that are easy to digest. Incorporate warming herbs and spices like orange peel, cardamom, rosemary, fennel, cumin, coriander, dandelion, chamomile and chicory into your food and drinks.
6. Schedule time for creativity
While summer is all about planning and doing, fall is the season for grounding and creative pursuits. When our vata is healthy and balanced, you will feel the most clear-headed, joyful and inspired. If there is a skill you wanted to learn or a project you wanted to tackle, this is the perfect time for it.
7. Indulge in self-care
The intensity of summer can leave you feeling exhausted and depleted when Fall comes around. Tune into yourself and "follow the smallest pings of joy", building up a list of things and activities that will rejuvenate and refill your resilience tank. Schedule them regularly into your self-care list and continue to nurture yourself this season.
Remember that seasonal routines are considered an important cornerstone of health and vitality in Ayurveda, and fall is the time to ground yourself and reverse the effects of constantly being "on the go" during the summer. Here's to embracing everything that the season has to offer!