“If we surrender to earth’s intelligence we could rise up, rooted like trees. “
Rainer Maria Rilke
As the light and air slowly shift, we can feel the subtle approach of Fall. The days are still hot in the desert, but the cool breeze at 4 am tells us something different, and now, as I end my evening yoga classes, the light is almost gone.
This transition of the Rainy Season shifting into Fall, brings a mix of feelings. We feel relief from the aggravated Pitta heat of Summer mixing with the cool steady rains that bring life. But as the light dims and the days shorten, Vata begins to aggravate and on a deeper level, within us, there is a movement that draws us back to the ethers. As the air and ether elements of Vata increase, we may feel an emptiness, a spaciousness and a mobility of mind. This can make for profound silence and deeper meditation and/or it can increase anxiety, nervousness and restless activity.
Ayurveda and Yoga teach us clear and simple ways to balance through the shifting seasons. As Fall approaches we may want to carve out extra time for retreat, silence and time in nature. Yoga practice and Meditations that are grounding and steady, help us to keep calm and focused. We may even chose to do a gentle cleanse to help release the accumulated hot, sharp, oily qualities of Summer and begin to ground the cold, light, rough qualities of Vata.
As the days become cooler, performing daily Abhyanga (self massage) with oils that are warmer, like Almond or Sesame, is essential, and paying particular attention to massaging the feet and head. Nasya oil of Sesame, Brahmi and Eucalyptus can help to balance Prana and keep the mind focused and steady and it can also help counter allergies and colds that may trigger as the seasons shift.
Moving away from the lighter, cooling foods of Summer and beginning to increase the use of warm spices like Ginger, Cinnamon and Cumin, adding more stews and soups, dhals and moist grains, and favoring root vegetables and lightly cooked greens all help to keep us balanced.
Avoiding cold, raw foods, juices and smoothies and adding teas that aid digestion like Cumin, Coriander and Fennel or Ginger tea and increasing tonics to soothe the mind like Brahmi, Skullcap and Ashwaganda, are all beneficial. Moderately increasing the sour taste and fermented foods help to increase Agni and aid in digestion.
The use of Mantra to heal the mind is a powerful tool, whether it is chanting devotional Bhajans or Japa/Ajapa meditation( external and internal repetition of mantra) and can help to counter some of the anxiety of Vata. Walking barefoot on the warm earth and using your hands to cook and to eat your food , not only helps connect us to the 5 elements but it aids in increasing Agni, the digestive fire.
With the approaching Fall, and with Mercury in retrograde through the month of September, there is a natural pull to clean out and reorganize our spaces both internally and externally. Cleaning out clutter and closets, giving away things we no longer need or use, reorganizing our home or office spaces are all ways to help bring more clarity and focus to the mind. We may even potentially begin to shift some of our interpersonal dynamics with family members, friends and colleagues, so that our relationships reflect a deeper wisdom and nourishment, instead of added chaos and stress.
This evening, after a long productive day of cleaning and building bookshelves and reorganizing space in our home, a gentle breeze moves steadily through the outside trees. I listen to Coltrane, chop Veggies and make Dhal with my husband. It is a celebration of the shifting of seasons, a reorganizing and nourishment of both the outer and inner worlds so that when we drop into the stillness of winter, we remain steady and strong and rooted like trees, within the deep self.