REGENERATION – Dreamscapes
An Ayurvedic Approach to Season Change
By Jennifer Galardi
In the middle of September, I embarked on a two-week journey for work and vacation. When I returned, it was as if the season changed overnight. My first morning back, I stepped outside to cooler temperatures. The sun was no longer beating on my deck from high in the sky. The air not only felt different, but it also smelled different. There was not a doubt in my mind—fall had arrived.
Ayurveda tells us that human beings are merely a microcosm of the macrocosm—a smaller part of the greater whole. In essence, there is nothing found in nature that is not found within our own bodies. Optimal health comes through syncing our rhythms with those of the great Mother—Earth. She is deliberate in her communication to us. She tells us when to rev up and when to slow down. To what extent we listen and heed her calls and her guidance directly impacts how skillfully we handle the turn of seasons. If we insist on moving in the fall in the same rhythm as spring or summer, we will likely encounter stress, exhaustion and even mood disorders such as depression. Adapting our daily habits—how we sleep, what we eat, and even how we move and exercise—can ensure we slide into the shorter days with grace and ease.
As darkness takes more hours than daylight the further we move from the autumnal equinox, it may feel more challenging to stay active. Our energy may seem to decline as the days get darker earlier. This is Mother Nature’s way of offering her permission to rest more—to cocoon and go inside. It is a perfect opportunity to take up practices such as restorative and yin yoga or yoga nidra. Allowing the body to restore and recover and resting in the light within reminds us there is a light in all of us that is never dimmed, always brilliantly shining no matter what the weather outside. All these practices restore vitality and inspiration to the body, mind and soul. In fact, yoga nidra is often said to be the equivalent of three to four hours of sleep. In addition to these practices, turning in earlier and adding an evening meditation to soothe and quiet the mind can ensure that you get the most restful and deep sleep possible.
Tip: Engage the parasympathetic nervous system before bed with this breathing practice: Inhale through your nose for a count of four and exhale through your nose for a count of eight or longer. Do this for three to five minutes and you’ll settle into a deep state of slumber with greater ease.
Dig into root vegetables
The abundance that comes from the earth this time of year is evident in the hearty root vegetables that begin to spring up. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, acorn, butternut and kabocha squash, carrots and, everyone’s new favorite, Brussels sprouts are wonderful choices to warm the body during the cooler months as long as they are cooked. And there is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup or stew to satiate the belly and soothe the soul. Try making soups with heartier grains such as barley or wheat berries for a fiber-rich-filling meal.
Tip: Batch cooking is wonderful for this time of year. Spend a Sunday making soup to have all week or roasting vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375 F and cut up vegetables. I love adding leeks and red onions, as well. Lightly toss them in olive oil or coconut oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan (make cleanup easy by lining the pan with parchment paper or tinfoil first) and cook 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how well-done you like your veggies.
Change your routine—just keep moving
While the body likely wants to rest a bit more during these months and we should heed that call, we run the risk of becoming particularly lethargic, abandoning all exercise habits. It can be challenging to suit up in warm clothes and get in a cold car to get to the gym. This is the perfect time to adopt a home exercise routine and learn what activities other than running on the treadmill or gliding on the elliptical stimulate and motivate you. You may find something that stimulates not only your body but also your mind and soul! Or go ahead and bundle up, grab a friend and take a hike or walk. It can be invigorating to breathe in the cool air while walking briskly.
Tip: Make a motivating playlist that you love, and find a spot in the house where you can move a bit. Turn the tunes on and just begin moving. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even considered “dance.” Start somewhere—a march, a squat, a sway, a stretch—and see where the music takes you. Tap into your body and explore how it wants to move and play! Or try a new workout or fitness app.
Forgo socializing for self-care
Finally, the change of seasons is an excellent time to turn inward and a good excuse to decline extraneous social invitations to practice self-care. Don’t feel bad about saying no, especially when you are saying yes to you. Remember, self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or require a day at a spa. A warm bath with Epsom salts and some essential oils (Floracoepia makes some of my favorites) can do wonders to melt away stress, tension and fatigue. Curl up with a warm tonic such as a turmeric latte and a good fiction book or make time to journal.
Tip: Light a few candles, and play some soothing music. (I made this playlist of some of my faves just for you!) Run a warm bath with Epsom salts, eight drops of lavender essential oil and five drops of tea tree oil to calm and cleanse the body. Soak for at least a half-hour. Finish by massaging some soothing oil such as almond oil into the body while the skin is still damp.
Remember, the only thing certain is change. The more we recognize and accept that we, like Mother Nature, are always transitioning, the better we will adapt to those transitions.
Video credit: OlehSlepchenko, Getty Images
Photo credit: Artur Rutkowski, Unsplash; Dan Gold, Unsplash; Alexandra Andersson, Unsplash; Rajesh Kavasseri, Unsplash; myshkovsky, Getty Images