Urghh. It is that time of year. Autumn. Which I love. But the increasing cold mornings and cold evenings seems to brings colds with them. It is not only that of course, the start of the school season and everyone returning to work and clubs means the germs are properly circulating!! Plus the change in season lowers our immunity a little making us a little more susceptible.
I succumbed to the dreaded cold and I was reminded how tiresome, quite literally, this little virus can be. Urghh.
But it comes as a warning and as a healing too. A warning - or me at least - that I have been doing too much again. And a healing - because I have been doing a few physical/emotional/mental/energetic healing sessions with a marvellous healer I have found - and how else is the body to heal I it is not given time to rest. So the body invites in the cold virus, it is really rather clever.
Sleep is challenging or us, simply because we have a 22 month old who likes to wake throughout the night and longs to sleep with his arm around my neck, which is generally what happens at some point during the evening. And so this does challenge the "resting" aspect of life from time to time.
So the cold was a blessing in disguise really, for it meant I got to stay in bed and sleep on and off (as one does with a sleep depriving toddler) or a whole 12.5 hours. Wow! I haven't stayed in bed for that long for a t least 22 months and probably a long time prior to then too!!! It did work some magic I have to say.
But what also helped, at least in dealing with the cold virus itself was elderberry extract. I swear by this stuff. It takes days off a cold. It is completely natural and you can buy it from health stores and even Boots these days. I believe that the elderberry manages to take the spiky bits off the cold virus so that the virus can no longer puncture the cells of the body. or something like that. Regardless, a day and a half on Sambucol and that horrible rawness of a cold has eased and you start to feel human again. That and lots of water.
But it is the rest that really does it. And for me it has come as a good reminder that things that have been a little out of balance in my life recently and with the Autumnal Equinox on its way - representing balance as the days and nights are of equal duration - I am encouraged to make some changes, and essentially to GROUND down. Yes it is vata season in the Ayurvedic (science of life) calendar and this will affect all of us on some level.
I love what MindBodyGreen say about this:
Picture it: you sit on your mat, intent to get through your yoga practice, and before you get to your first downward dog, you're off -- chasing the dust bunnies from under the couch, glancing through the day's mail, feeding your cat -- indulging in distractions, seemingly unable to sit still.
Yep. It’s vata season. In ayurveda, sometimes referred to as a sister science to yoga, or the science of life, the elements of air and space combine to create vata. And in the ayurvedic calendar, autumn is when these elements elevate in our external environment (think wind, dryness, crackling leaves) and, as a result, in our minds and bodies as well.
Case in point: I was making a 4-hour drive home from wrapping up teaching a vata-pacifying yoga workshop in a nearby state. Filled with reflections of the workshop: the satisfied practitioners, the solid turnout, the joyful effort, I couldn’t settle into what had been a job well done.
This reflects a classic high-vata symptom, where we are virtually hovering above our physical bodies, too anxious, nervous or just plain flighty to connect to our ground of being, to our root. Even as I arrived at home, hoping to settle my nerves after vata-aggravating travel (it nearly always is), and in doing all I know how to do to settle those pesky air and space elements and bring them into balance, I still had two sleepless nights. What’s more, I felt the symptoms of a low-level panic attack as I tried to go about my days after returning. Sensations of hot/cold, pins and needles, and difficulty concentrating plagued me. The irony of these vata aggravations, brought on by an exertion to teach others how to guard against these very imbalances was not lost on me. Not that it made me feel any better.
Eventually the symptoms lessened. Nonetheless, as a person with a good deal of air and space in her constitution, these signs of fall are never far away for me, and a great many others, this time of year.
So what should we do at this time of year? Well anything that helps to ground our energy so think grounding and nourishing soups, anything with root vegetables and squash, short grain brown rice and wholesome food - this is NOT the time for a raw food cleanse!!
We should try to engage in a grounding yoga practice with the Ujaii breath. This is not the time for lots of kicking up and down into handstand or moving frenetically on our mats - this will just promote the frenetic vata imbalance instead. Long slow movements and long held poses, fluidity and grace and balance.
Typically computers, talking on the phone and driving aggravate vata. So at this time of year we really need to be mindful of how much we are doing of any of these and encouraging a routine, we need to think grounded and routine certainly helps us to ground.
As MindBodyGreen says:
"Without air and space in balance in our minds and bodies, spiritual practice is not effective. Vata allows for creativity, spontaneity and lightness. It gives us the space to allow everything to exist, to juggle what we have to with our modern lives and not go crazy doing it. We need air and space. But often this time of year, we need a little less of it so we don’t feel like we’re losing it along the way. Give yourself a break, most importantly. Finding balance with any of the elements is a moving target."
So I guess colds come to encourage us to take a break and to re-focus and try to find and indeed to create a little more balance in our lives. Don't forget the Sambucol!