Rising early when the world is still and calm brush your teeth with some nourishing tooth powder such as licorice, haritaki and mint.
Hold some warm sesame oil in your mouth for three minutes. It has a wonderfully nourishing effect on the mouth, strengthens the teeth and stops bleeding and receding gums.
A specific autumnal practice is to then rinse your mouth with haritaki water (1 teaspoon of haritaki soaked in warm water overnight). After rinsing you can swallow some of the haritaki, as it is the main rejuvenative for balancing vata and sending apana vata downwards. Apana vata is one of the subtypes of vata that is responsible for moving everything downwards. As wind can aggravate constipation it is a very useful practice for this time of year.
Massage yourself with warm sesame or mahanarayan oil. This can offset the seasonal tendency to dryness, joint cracking, and stiff muscle pain. Wash off in a warm shower. Place a drop of oil in your nostrils and ears to offset the damaging effect of the elements. A special oil called nasya nasal oil is prepared with herbs that protect the nose and ears from infections and can be useful during the autumn.
Start yoga practice with some alternate nostril breathing (nadi sodhana). The Hathayogapradipika says, ‘By proper practice of pranayama all disease are eradicated…. The vayu should be skilfully inhaled, exhaled and retained so that perfection is retained’. (Hathayogapradipika 16, 18). What better time to master the art of breathing than in autumn when there are such high levels of prana in the atmosphere? Nadi s´odhana does what it says; it purifies the channels of toxins, and especially vata-toxins that accumulate from tension and constriction of the channels. We all know that breathing helps us to relax, but it also relaxes the subtle channels that can easily become constricted and tight.
Practise asana that regulate vata and send apana vayu downwards; this especially includes pavanamuktasana (the wind-relieving poses), all inverted poses where the head moves below the waist (as air moves up and inverting ourselves can help apana vayu move down), all twists as this helps to regulate samana vayu in the intestines, slow sun salutation with breaths in each pose and then lots of savasana (corpse pose) for proper grounding.
Apply grounding scents such as vetiver or avata essential oil on the eyebrow centre and throat.
Autumnal diet should consist of warm foods that are sweet, mildly spicy, sour and salty as these are all flavours that increase moisture and encourage feeling nourished and grounded.
Breakfast with a small bowl of porridge of oats, rice or quinoa that can be flavoured with maple syrup and cinnamon.
Take a teaspoon of organic cyavanaprasha in the morning to keep your energy and immunity intact at this time of change. Cyavanapra´sa is a great remedy for reducing vata and maintaining inner strength.
If you are easily destabilised by the changes in the autumn season and can suffer from vataimbalanced symptoms such as insomnia, erratic digestion, constipation and anxiety then the most appropriate ayurvedic remedy is ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). It is great for calming while strengthening, giving energy while also settling the nervous system. It can be taken morning and evening. It is a great herb for enhancing stability and strength in yoga practice as well.
For lunch and/or supper have more nourishing foods such as steamed vegetables, soup or kichadi.
Avoid too much raw salad, cold drinks, ice, beans, fermented foods and yeast in autumn as they cause gas and may destabilise digestion.
Autumn is a common time to perform a seasonal cleanse to prepare for the winter ahead. These recommendations are similar to the sat karma recommendations in the Hathayoga pradipika to clear the phlegm, bile and wind from the system. A very simple home cleanse programme would be to follow the above recommendations and to take organic triphala at night to ensure a complete cleansing every morning. Triphala is the most famous ayurvedic remedy and is a combination of three fruits that very gently detoxify the body and rejuvenate the digestive system. Follow this programme strictly for two weeks.
At the end of a busy day make yourself a delicious cup of milk simmered with a pinch of nutmeg and cardamom and settle in for a blissful night’s sleep.
Experienced holistic doctor, healer, teacher, and writer
Specialized in Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma)
Trained in India and Nepal, the original lands of Ayurveda
Graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) from the Institute of Medicine at Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.
Professional member of Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)
Owner of Sunshine Ayurveda
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