The Foods, Herbs, Self-Care Practices & Lifestyle Tips To Help You Move Into Autumn
As we approach September, there’s no denying Autumn will be with us soon. Of all the seasons, the transition from Summer to Autumn can be the one with the most changes and challenges, and the one where our lifestyle, foods and self-care practices need to switch the most. If you want to know how to change your energy along with the seasons, read on for a few quick tips from Ayurveda (the ancient ‘science of life’) on transitioning from Summer to Autumn.
Summer is a ‘yang’ time of year, when the energy of ‘pitta’ (think hot, oily, humid, intense and irritable) is at its peak. As Summer progresses however, the heat of Summer begins to create dryness in the air and earth, and this is what leads to a lot less humidity, and a lot more dryness in the air in Autumn.
The dry quality in Autumn is one of the most important qualities to balance-out, because when the air around us is dry, the nose and throat can become dry too, which leaves us more susceptible to coughs and colds. To remedy dryness, bring in more oiliness in the form of cooking with ghee or coconut oil, and using warm sesame oil for ‘nasya’ (applying inside the nose to prevent the nasal passages from becoming dry). The quality of dryness can also lead to dry skin and dehydration, so it’s important to hydrate both internally and externally. Think about drinking more warm water – add a pinch of salt to a large glass of water in the morning and drink this to assist with absorption and rehydration – and consuming foods that have a naturally hydrating and moistening quality (soaked chia or flax seeds, soaked almonds and pumpkin seeds, and oats). Autumn is the perfect month to focus on abhyanga or ‘self-massage’, using warm sesame oil to massage your body from head-to-toe, especially on the joints, which can become a little stiff and achy in colder months.
According to Ayurveda, Autumn is governed by the Vata dosha, represented by the elements air and ether, from the root word ‘va’, a word that implies movement and change, and ‘vayu’, meaning ‘wind’. We can see these windy, changeable qualities in the way the leaves change and fall from trees, and the blustery, unpredictable Autumn weather. Indeed, these qualities of irregularity are a key characteristic of Vata energy, which can easily become excessive in Autumn and early Winter. To balance this sense of irregularity and potential for feeling scattered, it’s important to cultivate a steady daily routine that aligns with the rhythms of nature. Get plenty of sunlight in the morning, and it’s vital to make sure you’re not bathing your eyes in bright lights just before you go to bed – switch off the TV, laptop and as many overhead lights as you can in order to facilitate optimal sleep. If your Summer season was busy and bustling, it’s time to start slowing down and tying up loose ends. Finish up projects, and channel your energy into something you can settle into and focus on for the next few months. In terms of work and social commitments; set boundaries, and check in with yourself to ensure you’re living in a way that feels good to YOU, and not stressing over trying to fit too much in. It might sound silly, but if you’re prone to feeling cold, scattered and anxious, wearing a woolly hat when it’s windy outside can make a huge difference in helping you stay grounded.
At the end of one season, we tend to accumulate a lot of that particular season’s energy – think of the heaviness you might feel after Winter, when you’re eager to get out and about into the sunshine again, or perhaps the feeling of being a little frazzled after a busy and intense Summer. The transition between seasons is a good time to re-set the mind and body, so we don’t head into the next season already overloaded or undernourished. Moving from Summer to Autumn requires us to slow things down, and to move from consuming salad and cold foods, to warm, nourishing meals. To re-set your digestion, perhaps opt for a traditional Ayurvedic three-day kitchari cleanse (whereby you’d solely consume a kitchari recipe like THIS for three days), then bring in more nourishing and Vata-balancing foods like oils, nuts, root vegetables, bone broth and the tastes of sweet, sour and salty – all of these help to balance the Ayurvedic dosha Vata, which you can read more about HERE.
Autumn is also the time to ensure the immune system is strong, so try making these recipes, tonics and remedies:
- Elderberry tonic
- Cough & Cold Curry
- Vitamin C Superfood Muffins
- Anti-Inflammatory turmeric and cayenne tonic remedy
- Nourishing Face Mask For Dry Winter Skin
- Ginger, Thyme & Pea Soup
As colder weather and shorter days start to set in, it’s useful to use more warming spices in meals, to keep the Agni or ‘digestive fire’ burning well. Favour cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, ajowain, clove, chilli, as well as fennel, which can help prevent gas and bloating.
Autumn is the time to find a balance between movement and rest – aim to walk daily in nature amongst the beautiful Autumn colours, and focus on building strength, which is great for balancing blood sugar levels, boosting mental health, and immune health. To relax, practice restorative yoga, yin yoga, yoga nidra (a form of deep relaxation), and give yourself permission to have more days where you simply relax and rest all day – your nervous system will thank you, especially when we jump back into the more ‘yang’ seasons of Spring and Summer.