The core principle of Ayurvedic healing states that any changes in the environment will have an impact on our bodies, minds, and emotions. The fall season is a period of transition, and we must support our bodies' need to stay in tune with nature’s intelligence. Ayurveda gives great importance to seasonal changes because it is the science that is built on circadian rhythms.
During the change of seasons, Ayurveda recommends a specific type of diet, lifestyle, and herbal supplements that help us to transit through these seasonal changes with ease.
During late summer and early fall, our bodies are going through a shift in the regulation of body temperature and body fluids, both of which are critical for maintaining a strong immune system.
The three constitutional energies, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are under constant shift, change, and distress, and the body’s immune response greatly depends on the balance of these three energies. When the body fluids are partially dehydrated due to the summer heat, the Pitta dosha becomes aggravated. This aggravated Pitta can provoke the immune system, resulting in abnormal reactions such as nasal, chest and skin allergies.
In addition, Vata energy, when influenced by the wind in nature, is also simultaneously aggravated in this season due to dehydration and the slow onset of dryness that continues to happen during the late summer and early fall season. Vata is responsible for directing and moving the immune system in the right direction, and when Vata is aggravated, it can abnormally direct the immune system to areas where its action is not necessary.
Hence, Ayurveda recommends that these excess energies be eliminated without harming any of the body’s tissues, organs or organ systems. It is important that we purge these toxic energies with herbal supplements that can dislodge aggravated Pitta and Vata.
The diet that is preferred includes more fluids and selected tastes such as bitter, astringent, and sweet. Bitter taste helps to reduce the Pitta; Astringent tastes help to draw the Pitta from deeper tissues, and Sweet taste reduces Vata.
Bitter diet can include Escarole, Endives, Dandelion, Kale, Chard, Arugula, Bitter melon, and Collard greens. Astringent taste is dominantly seen in Lentils, Legumes, Squash and Root Vegetables such as Yams and Sweet Potatoes. The sweet diet should include natural sweet taste like Honey, Dates, and Raisins and not crystalline sugar-based substances.
Herbal tea such as Licorice tea (light and sweet), Chamomile tea or any tea that has some dried fruit or flowers in it which are sweet and astringent are recommended. Flower teas like Chamomile can be very beneficial in the fall. Licorice tea though sweet has a light quality that is capable of expanding the blood flow and bringing out the toxins from the minute channels to eventually eliminate them. (Please use caution if you are on blood pressure medication as licorice can raise your blood pressure.)
Spices that are highly recommended in Ayurveda for this season: 1. Coriander, which is astringent and sweet. 2. Cardamom, which is a cooling spice. 3. In addition, Fenugreek can be added to the diet in the form of fenugreek sprouts that can be added to salads.
Coriander and Cardamom can be either sprinkled on food or made into a tea.
The diet needs to be properly monitored. A plant-based diet that is rich in carbohydrates is recommended for this season. Any spicy or oily food can be detrimental to the body’s quick adoption of seasonal change.
Grains that are mild like Rice, Barley, Millet, Oatmeal, and Buckwheat should be included. Oatmeal and Buckwheat can be added into morning breakfast with figs or dates, whereas Rice can be cooked into the soups along with Barley. This can help to calm down both Pitta and Vata and slowly rehydrate the body if they are cooked into a soupy consistency.
Red meat and fish are contraindicated in this season as they are heavy to digest. Freshwater fish can only be had sparingly.
Ayurveda recommends plenty of fluids in this season. Natural fats like ghee and coconut oil are suggested in cooking food as they can help to calm down the Pitta and adjust to the seasonal change.
Fruits such as Pomegranates, Persimmons, Grapes are beneficial. Stone fruits like Peaches and Apricots can also be added in this season. The secret is to eat light, liquid meals and make sure to include bitter, astringent and sweet tastes in the diet.
Ayurveda Recipe for Fall season - ALMOND PERSIMMON PUDDING
When it comes to herbs that are capable of purging the body, Ayurveda recommends Triphala, which is meant to gently detox the gut, upper GI, intestines, and colon.
Tulsi tea, along with Licorice and Chamomile tea, is also recommended during the fall season to adapt to the environmental change.
Immunity can be boosted by taking Chyawanprash which is a combination of several herbs and whose primary ingredient is Amalaki which is cooling and rejuvenating to the body. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and can be taken in the morning and night to support the transitional change that our bodies go through during this season.
Exercises that are too warm for the body or vigorous are not recommended in this season. Hot yoga may not be as suitable for this season. Moderate exercises like walking twice a day in the morning and evening for 20 minutes each is recommended.
Coordinated breathing is necessary to avoid aggravating the mind and causing restlessness. Holding the breath or breathing too briskly should be avoided. Sheetali Pranayama, which is cold breath, should be practiced for about 20 times in the morning and 20 times in the evening. This helps to ease any irritability or agitation and can also be helpful for women who are going through menopause as Pitta (fire energy) and Vata (wind energy) are exacerbated in their bodies and the season worsens their condition by causing hot flashes, sleep disturbance and dryness. Sheetali pranayama video - Krishna
Following these simple ancient Ayurveda techniques can help promote a healthy lifestyle in the fall season.