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Snakes, And The Unbearable Lightness Of Being In The Fall Season

Last week, I was driving my old blue BMW down the street after picking my 6-year-old son up from school, and mentioned to my little guy that the leaves were turning.

“The trees are shedding,” he said. “Just like snakes. Everything sheds in fall.”

It sounds like something I would say in a moment of pontification to my six-year-old kid, but the words came out of his mouth, not mine. What a little teacher he is already.

It’s no coincidence that he brought up the image of the snake. Fall is considered “vata season” in Ayurveda. Vata is represented by the air and space elements, and when we look for vata in the pulse, we look for a snake-like feeling on the radial artery. And that’s not the only snake connection with Fall.

The changing of seasons can have an impact on our physical and mental well-being. It’s important to balance the body and mind with the seasons, and the Fall season is associated with certain doshas and qualities. The increased metabolic/transformative energy of Summer leads to the catabolic/destructive energy of Fall. Have you heard people say that October is the month when the “veils are the thinnest”? I recently wrote a post about legit physiological changes that happen to your body in Fall. Adding onto that, here's my Ayurvedic perspective on why some people might feel "spacey" or even more “spiritual” in the Fall:

Vata Dosha Dominance: In Ayurveda, the imbalances we experience are categorized into three types —Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—and the Fall season is considered the time when the Vata dosha tends to become more predominant. Vata is associated with qualities like dryness, coldness, lightness, and movement. When Vata is higher in a person, it can lead to feelings of spaciness, anxiety, restlessness, irregularities, spasms and lack of focus. It impacts temperature too. One moment you are freezing, and then you are as hot as an oven. It’s a bit like being a cold-blooded animal. (Ahem, like a snake.) People have to work hard to regulate their body temperature because not all of us can pack up and move somewhere warmer for the winter. High vata is found in many older people, those with little fat and people who have lost significant amounts of weight (including women in the postpartum period).

Dryness: Fall is typically a season of increased dryness, both in the environment and within the body. This can lead to dry skin, dry sinuses, and other physical discomforts. In Ayurveda, dryness is associated with Vata imbalance, which can affect mental clarity and concentration. Protective barriers become depleted, and instability ensues. Interestingly, October is also the month in which the stock market has the highest levels of volatility.

Seasonal Routine: Ayurveda places great importance on maintaining a daily routine (Dinacharya) and seasonal routines (Ritucharya). Transitioning from the warm and active days of summer to the cooler and more introspective days of Fall can disrupt one's routine, leading to feelings of spaciness and instability.

Dietary Choices: If you don’t transition to the more Fall-appropriate diet, consisting of warming, grounding foods, then you risk increasing your vata more, especially if your vata is already on the high side. Save your salads for Spring and Summer. Popcorn anyone? Not in Fall.

To be fair, more vata isn't always a bad thing. Why do you think people exercise? High vata is actually associated with feelings of increased joy, and a feeling of lightness, and an extreme version of that would be mania. Eventually the chaos takes over if vata just keeps on increasing, so to feel more balanced in the Fall, consider the following Ayurvedic tips:

Diet: Consume warm, nourishing, and easily digestible foods. Favor foods that are sweet, sour, and salty, as they can help balance Vata. Avoid excessive intake of cold, raw, and dry foods.

Hydration: Staying well-hydrated is essential, as dryness is a common issue in the Fall. Warm herbal teas, golden milk, garlic milk with ghee, and warm water with a little lemon can be helpful to keep you from getting spaced out, suffering from anxiety or having bowel movements that look like you live with a herd of deer.

Routine: Establish a daily routine that aligns with the changing season. This may include gentle yoga, meditation, and self-massage with warm oils (abhyanga) to calm the Vata dosha.

Reduce Stress: Engage in stress-reducing practices such as meditation, restorative yoga, or Ayurvedic herbs and supplements that support mental clarity and focus.

Stay Warm: Wear warm clothes and take warm baths. Try a wet sauna.

Seasonal Detox: Consider a seasonal cleanse under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner to help remove toxins and restore balance. I would be thrilled to advise you on this process because it’s changed so many of my clients’ lives, as well as my own! Get started by setting up a consultation with me. My calendar is very busy these days, but if you really need help working on your wellness, then I will make time for you.

We each have a unique constitution, and some of us are naturally thicker-skinned and more watery than others, and therefore more stable. (And totally prone to other types of issues, BTW.) Even if you’re not the type that gets so affected by the vata of the Fall season, you likely will still feel some small changes that you must adjust to. Seasonal optimization of some degree is required of all of us to stay in balance. Fall is the season to charm your snakes. Enjoy!

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