Dear Beautiful Yogi,
It’s vata season. Vata dosha is the combination of two elements, air and space. These elements are more present in nature during fall and early winter. Think about what air and space are like: dry, cold, changeable, quick, light, creative, unpredictable, unstable etc.
We are a part of nature and nature is a part of us, so we experience these elements in our minds and bodies too. The seasons have a direct effect on us in other words. Too much of anything is a bad thing. When we are experiencing too much vata, we experience something I call “vata crazy”.
I’m going to paint a picture for you. Imagine a woman in her 30’s, a mother, a yoga teacher, a wife and this is what her life looks like:
- She teaches a lot of weekly classes, leads 200-hour yoga teacher trainings, 300-hour yoga teacher trainings, offers workshops, retreats, teaches private clients and oversees other teachers. Every day is a little different and some weeks are busier than others. Teacher trainings tend to overlap year-round. She gives her students 100% focus, no slacking while teaching.
- She has a small child and tries to be the most present mother she can be. She’s pretty much a DIY person in every way possible. She tries to take and pick up from school, cook at home mostly and manages the family schedule.
- Her diet is ok. She starts her day with a smoothie: soy milk with banana (bad food combining) plus tons of ice and vanilla protein powder. She can be inconsistent with meal timings and when hungry gets very low blood sugar.
- She rarely says no. Most of the time its “yes” with a desire to please everyone around her.
- Her yoga practice is fairly intensive with an emphasis on pushing to new places and she almost never practices restorative poses. Maybe some meditation at the end of practice. Practice is squeezed in wherever she can fit it day to day. It’s rarely at a consistent time.
- There is almost no self-care time scheduled in. Everyone else comes first.
Can you see how there’s very little consistent rhythm, a lot of energy output, a whole lot of movement and change? What’s the result of “living in so much vata energy” for a person with a lot of vata already in their constitution? It creates anxiety, a scattered mind, poor or irregular digestion, feeling overwhelmed, un-grounded, and eventually extremely depleted.
This was me about 10 years ago. On top of all of that, I was hit with several extremely depleting and life changing experiences all of which create even more vata in the system: a second pregnancy, loss of my mom, loss of our house, loss of my dad and a year and a half of sleep deprivation. I was a total wreck. I was depleted to my core.
Luckily, I signed up for a workshop with my teacher Rod Stryker on the 3 vital essences of Ayurveda (ojas, tejas, prana). It was there that I realized I was completely drained of my ojas, vital base of immunity. I resolved to find an Ayurvedic doctor I could work with and begin the process of rebuilding myself.
Within 6 months of slowly and steadily making changes in all areas of my life, I felt like a completely different person. It was like the clouds parted and the sun came out. Issues I felt I had been struggling with melted away effortlessly. Creativity, inspiration and vitality returned. I felt amazing!
Now this is what I do to keep myself more balanced, especially during fall and the first half of winter:
- I say no waaaaaay more than ever. I have to protect my energy and less is truly more. My boundaries have gotten a lot stronger.
- I ask for help more, let other people step up or simply opt out instead of feeling I have to do it all.
- I am diligent about not over-scheduling. I look at the year as a whole, I consider things seasonally and I also look week to week. Gone are the days of one training overlapping into another. I space things apart and simply don’t add in too much.
- I eat warm, spiced, oily and cooked food with very little raw or cold. I try to eat plenty of the good fats and protein and I drink ghee in hot water every morning. I avoid dry foods and the smoothies are long gone.
- I stay warm. I wear layers even at home and make sure not to get chilled.
- I allow for periods of rest. Plenty of down time at home, working from my computer or moving slowly and not on a fast-paced schedule. When possible, I avoid traffic, choosing teaching times that are easy for me.
- I don’t push my body hard. I practice, I exercise but space it out and listen when I am tired. I also do restorative practices and meditate regularly.
- I go to bed really early, 9pm most nights. I get 9 hours of sleep pretty consistently.
- I take herbs when needed to support digestion and keep my ojas up.
- I oil twice daily and include other self-care cleansing techniques like dry brushing, tongue scrapping and neti pot.
The key to balancing vata is maintaining a consistent rhythm and reducing irregularity. Now that I have been practicing and using Ayurvedic tools and principles for almost 10 years, I know very quickly when I am out of balance and what I need to do to realign.
My teacher Rod Stryker once said “Ayurveda helps us manage all the change of life”. Brilliantly said. We are constantly exposed to change (and don’t most people hate change?). Knowing how to adjust ourselves and our lives to all the change is the key to living vibrantly.
Book a free call with me if you would like to hear more about how to adjust your life and yoga practice seasonally for optimal well-being.
I will be sure to cover what excess pitta and kapha look like in upcoming newsletters.
Happy New Year! Wishing you a wonderful 2020.