Fall is a time of transition. The hours of sunlight decrease. The weather generally gets colder all across the United States, athough in San Francisco, we may be getting erratic weather this time of year, including some of the hottest days we see all year. Leave it to San Francisco to always be a maverick!
You may have noticed that this year is especially dry. The drought doesn’t only affect our drinking water supply or lawns and crops – it also affects our skin, our physiological functioning, sleep and mood.
Been feeling like your energy levels are abnormally up or down and you can’t explain why? Are you waking up in the middle of the night more? Hearing those joints crackle and pop again? Are you wondering what the heck is going on with your digestion? If so, these are often signs that your vata is higher than usual. Fall is the time when vata dosha generally increases, and we Californians are getting an even higher dosage this year with the drought. Vata is cold, dry, clear, light subtle, mobile and rough. Vata is cold, dry, clear, light subtle, mobile and rough and it's made up of the air and ether elements.
Some people will get sinus congestion in response to dryness. The body is trying to lubricate the sinuses to nourish the dry tissues. People with a lot of vata often get hangnails and dry skin – like after a winter weekend in Tahoe.
People with lots of vata like change and are typically the ones more open to trying new things – their bodies tend not to be as dense and static and therefore they are more easily moveable. This openness also leaves them vulnerable to the elements in the environment. They get easily affected by temperature, light, movement and the people around them.
Anxiety and fear are also other sensations associated with high vata. You may notice people at this time of year seem to get a little bit weird. Fall is certainly a time of letting go, but some of us can let go so much that we end up flying out too far into space and losing our footing. A pitta person with abnormally high vata may experience something more like getting irritated or angry with people around them. We call that "vata pushing pitta" and it's like how a fire burns higher when you dry the wood out and give it more oxygen.
It may seem hard to believe that being dry could affect your mental state, but if you are feeling it right now, I invite you to test it out for yourself with the following Ayurvedic lifestyle challenge:
Before showering in the morning, apply warm sesame oil to your skin, massaging into the tissues. Let the oil sit for 10 minutes and then shower. You can let it sit while you do other things like brush your teeth, or you could sit and meditate while you wait. Try it!