Driving on my own, on an early Sunday morning to a course I was leading, I was struck by the joy that is the changing season.
I love summer and I never want it to end, but when it does, the pitta in me is grateful for the change. This is especially now, with children, where I am lucky enough to spend a considerable part of the summer on the beach. This is wonderful, but a challenge for my pitta, which has most definitely been out of balance this summer, especially with the earlier-summer-exam-stress.
Pitta comprises the elements of fire and water and pitta people can be aggravated by too much sun exposure and by the summer season (the pitta season). Pitta people are often athletic and driven people, competitive, hard working and ambitious. They have a tendency to like to control things and have high expectation for themselves and others.
They like nice things and a lovely (and often luxurious) lifestyle. They like to consume hot and spicy foods, tomatoes, caffeine, alcohol and stimulants like chocolate – thinks that feed their fire! They have a tendency towards frustration and anger, and can be impulsive, jealous, envious and get really annoyed by people.
When there is too much pitta, pitta people are prone to loose stools and excess stomach acid leading to ulcers and acid reflux. They are susceptible to red skin conditions and hormonal imbalance too. This is when the rage may appear too!
If you can relate to any of this, then perhaps your pitta has been out of balance too and you will rejoice at the shift that the seasonal shift will bring to you. Already my pitta feels soothed by the cooler mornings and evenings, and I relish the calmer energy, and the changing light that is brighter and sharper than summer, and brings with it a much welcomed settling – like a breath of fresh air, which finds me almost sighing with relief (as much as I love summer!).
Autumn is the vata season. Vata comprises the elements of air and ether, and so it’s the turn of those with a tendency towards vata to be potentially aggravated by the seasonal shift. It’s worth noting here that you don’t have to have a predominantly vata constitution to be affected. We will all have an element of vata, and some of us will have a tendency for this to be aggravated (like pitta and kapha) from time to time depending on how we are living our lives. Certainly I find that my pitta imbalance brings with it a vata imbalance.
Vata people like change and movement, and like to flit around, snacking on the go, rather than taking regular meals. They like to eat bird food (think nuts and seeds) that help them to fly even more up in the air, trying to get lighter and lighter Sometimes they are living so much in the air and up in the ether that they chop and change their minds and don’t always get things done, or manifest on the ground, in this world.
When out of balance, vata people have a tendency towards nervousness, anxiety, fear, indecisiveness and worry. They can suffer with tics, tremors and twitches. They can also suffer with light and disturbed sleep, and can be prone to constipation and excess wind (too much air!). They can also feel cold and scattered and airy and their skin might flake (reflecting their flakiness).
So look out those of you who have a vata constitution or a tendency for vata imbalance, as this seasonal shift could affect you. There are simple things you can do to ease the imbalance, such as eating nourishing and warming foods, avoiding the bird food, taking warm baths and oil massage, establishing a regular and daily routine with regular times for eating, sleeping and working etc., calming and grounding yoga, yoga nidra and body scans and some light exercise like walking and swimming.
Those of you with kapha tendencies might find yourself challenged by the winter months ahead, but you should be OK during autumn, as long as you keep warm. Kapha people are cooler and slower and their digestion tends to be sluggish with excess mucus. When kapha is in excess, they can be prone to weight gain and excess sleep. They can also be prone to attachment and greediness. So you might watch out for these tendencies if you know that you have kapha in you (a combination of earth and water).
I haven’t yet found out if I’ve passed my Ayurvedic exams (I don’t get the results until November) so I am not yet able to practice professionally as a lifestyle and diet consultant but I’m always happy to try to help on a case study basis if you feel drawn to Ayurveda.
Ayureda uses a combination of diet, lifestyle and medicine to effect positive change, balancing the dosha (fault) and restoring harmony and balance. It sounds easy but can sometimes be a touch challenging – our diet patterns are well ingrained and we are often asked to focus on new tastes. The lifestyle changes can also be confronting because our lifestyle patterns are also well laid. The medicine can sometimes taste bitter and we have to remember to take it at the prescribed times, which can be tricky.
But all of this, all of the changes that are asked of us and our reaction to this can be both revealing and potentially healing. There is a reason that we are out of balance in the first place and that dis-ease may have appeared (mental as much as physical). So we need to start to do things differently, to unravel the imbalance.
Sometimes however we don’t need to do very much. Sometimes the imbalance can be re-balanced just by the seasonal shift. So to all the pitta people, enjoy the cooler and clearer skies and the routine that this new season brings as the schools return and everyone catches up on the summer months of activity.
Here, I’m back to teaching yoga and there’s a whole heap of retreats ahead which is exciting, as I do love retreating a little from the chaos of the rest of the world and especially as the light dims and we are encouraged to retreat inwardly in any case. There is a joy in seasonal shifts, another opportunity (as if we need more hey!) to let go and flow into the unknown.
So enjoy the flow, and hope to see some of you soon, on your yoga mat or at Reiki.