Ever wonder why we get more scattered in the fall? Think of it as our insides echoing the outside wind and movement in the air. To stay grounded as we transition from summer to winter Ayurveda offers many tools for our health and well-being. Ideally, all these practices can be followed, but if the list seems overwhelming, choose a few practices that resonate with you and commit to them for up to three months.

• Try to stick to a daily routine in the fall, scheduling in more down time than usual to prevent Vata imbalances.
• Wake up at 5:00-6:00 am (do your best!) and greet the day with gratitude for another opportunity to celebrate life.
• Wash your face, brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, do a neti pot, and lubricate your nostrils with oil or ghee.
• Drink hot lemon water with a little salt in the morning to stimulate elimination.
• Meditate (on grounding imagery, like a stone or a mountain).
• Do slow, warming, rhythmic movement or asana practices to set the pace for the day. Moving slowly and consciously in your asana practice will also help stabilize your mind and make it easier to stay focused throughout the day.
• Perform abhyanga with warm sesame oil. Leave the oil on your skin for 10-30 minutes to help nourish and protect your skin from drying out; follow with a warm shower.
• Homemade soups are good dietary mainstays during this season, as they are both hot and liquid, the opposite of Vata, which is cold and dry. In your soups or stews include copious amounts of root vegetables and hearty grains to keep the essence of the earth down in your belly. In general, prepare warm, moist foods for every meal while you are in the fall.
• Sit down to eat at regular times throughout the day; the more routine your meal times are the better. Practicing eating as a meditation, chewing your food until it’s liquid, and putting the utensil down between bites are just a few simple ways to ensure good digestion and strong agni.
• Increase your enjoyment of foods that are sweet (like rice, milk, and dates), sour (like yogurt and fermented foods), and salty (like sea kelp) as they help calm down and nurture Vata.
• Avoid starting too many new projects that pull your energy in multiple directions! Remember fall is a time to wrap up projects and prepare for winter hibernation.
• Aim for bedtime before 10:00 pm and get a full eight hours of sleep each night.

Incorporate more of the following into your practice:
• A routine where the time of day and length of your practice is consistent. It can be helpful to build your routine by writing down your committed yoga and exercise time slots on a weekly calendar.
• Yoga poses that allow you to incorporate the bandhas to guide prana deep into your body, which then prepares you for: pratyahara (the moment your sense organs no longer seek nourishment from the external environment), dharana (concentration), and dhyana (steady concentration or meditation).
• Steady, slow, mindful Sun Salutations to increase circulation of blood through your muscles and organs as well as standing poses, squats, twists, bridge pose, supported back bends, and inversions to clear the lungs and maintain heat in your core.
• Practice seated poses that allow the breath to move freely into the lower abdomen and pelvic floor, the parts of the body ruled by Vata.
• Take long savasanas to stabilize Vata. Cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm, use an eye pillow to soothe the eyes, and drape a sandbag or two over your thighs or ankles to promote the downward movement of prana deep into the bones of your legs. The extra weight of the sandbags reinforces the idea of staying present and can be useful for anyone at anytime who struggles with staying present in savasana.

Posted by: Melina Meza
Melina Meza is a Co-Director of the 8 Limbs 200 and 500-hour Teacher Training Program, author of “The Art of Sequencing,” and leads Seasonal Vinyasa Retreats throughout the year. Join her to learn about practices that support us in the winter at the 8 Limbs Mexico Retreat January 22 – 29, 2011. www.melinameza.com

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