Anxiety Alert! The Arrival of Vata Season
Here in the Northeast where I live, the heat of Pitta Season is slowly waning. Temperatures are fluctuating from day to day, turning cold and dry, and the wind is beginning to blow. Vata Season (fall/early winter) is making its appearance. The Arrival of Vata Season Anxiety Alert!
Autumn has always been my favorite season. It brings with it blue skies and crisp cool sweater-weather days, apple picking and changing leaves. But I have always been aware of feelings of anxiety and agitation, as well as a lack of focus, that would show up as sure as the apples falling from the trees. I am feeling it now.
“When the seasons change, we experience a sympathetic internal shift. All life-forms open themselves up to receive cosmic redirection from nature during these crucial seasonal transitions, so we are likely to be more vulnerable and unsettled.”
– Maya Tiwari, The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing
This seasonal shift confused me for years until I began to study Ayurveda. Now, even though it still shows up with the apples and the pumpkins, I’m prepared and better equipped to handle it.
As we begin this transition from Pitta Season to Vata Season, it’s important to note something that Ayurveda teaches.
“The Ayurvedic texts say that a disease can take root in the body only during the junctions between the seasons, when all nature is in flux. Because of the upheaval dominating these junctions, the body’s natural immunity becomes virtually defenseless against impending disease.” -Maya Tiwari
I have experienced this firsthand, many times, and am learning just how true this cautionary statement is. The most important lesson I have learned is to deeply nurture the Vata part of me.
A critical fact to bear in mind is that an excess of a dosha can build up over the months and it is important to address this before moving into the next Ayurvedic season. If your Pitta has been high all summer, you want to get the excess heat out of your body so that it doesn’t get trapped and lead to health issues. I addressed this issue in a recent post which you can read HERE.
Even if Vata is not your primary dosha, you may find yourself feeling a little anxious or scattered as the temperature drops and the wind begins to blow.
Remember, we are made up of all three doshas and their earthly elements. It is Vata dosha, which is comprised of air (think movement) and ether (space), that is responsible for racing thoughts and a pounding heart that create anxiety. Vata is the dosha most likely to get out of balance, but luckily can come back just as easily. In a word, it’s changeable.
The attributes of Vata dosha are dry, mobile, cold, light, rough, clear and subtle. All of these characteristics are heightened during Vata Season as well as during the Vata times of day – 2:00-6:00 a.m. and 2:00-6:00 p.m.
Here are a few signs that your Vata dosha might be increased and needs balancing:
- Feelings of heightened anxiety, nervousness, and fear
- Bothered by cold and wind
- Sleep is interrupted and light
- Excess worrying
- Excess stimulation is bothersome–i.e. crowds and loud noises
- Intestinal gas, constipation
- Dryness–skin, hair, stools, eyes, etc.
- Feeling disorganized and overwhelmed
- Can’t sit still
- Fatigue following bursts of energy. Crash and burn (this is typical of Vata energy)
So, what to do to ease this transition and stay healthy?
“Like” increases “like” in Ayurveda, so think opposite to bring your Vata back into balance
- Dressing warmly and keeping a scarf around your neck, especially if windy. The back of the neck is very vulnerable to wind.
- Eat more warm and gently cooked seasonal foods. Root vegetables are especially grounding for Vata’s.
- Avoiding cold drinks. Opt instead for warm beverages like spiced herbal teas, warm spiced milk, or warm lemon water with honey.
- Eating enough healthy fats and oils (especially ghee)
- Avoiding over-exercising, which can aggravate already high-energy Vata. Gentle yoga, tai chi, and qi gong are excellent choices.
- Taking quiet walks in Nature is grounding for airy Vata’s.
- Meditation and pranayama (breathing practice) can help soothe Vata anxiety and fear.
- Daily self-massage with warm grounding oils like sesame or almond oil is extremely calming to the nervous system. Or, try an herbal Vata oil.
- Try to stay away from loud, noisy environments and when you can’t avoid them, take a moment to breathe deeply and find your inner calm.
- Keeping a regular routine with regards to sleeping, eating, working etc. is imperative for Vata’s, who love variety and can easily lose focus. An ideal bedtime is between 9:30–10:00pm.
- Nurturing yourself as much as possible on a daily basis!
- Determining your Ayurvedic constitution, Prakriti. Follow the food guidelines for your constitution and you’ll be on the right track.
Discover Your Ayurvedic Constitution
On a positive note, there are so many wonderful things about Vata types. When balanced, they are creative, optimistic, joyful, forgiving, flexible, and full of enthusiasm. They thrive on change and love to discover and experience new things. It’s no coincidence that school starts back up in the fall, people get excited about new projects, and creativity is in full bloom.
A cautionary tale, however, to over-enthusiastic Vata-types is to not let ourselves get burned out during this season. The word to keep in our consciousness is nurture. Body, mind, and spirit.