As we transition into fall, I often think about the changes that are occurring not just around us in nature, but also the changes happening inside our bodies physically and mentally. Fall is a time of death, decay, and eventually rebirth, and our bodies go through similar transitions with the season.
We tend to feel more tired, wanting to retreat to our dark rooms and beds for rest. We tend to crave heavier foods and nutrients to get us through the cold winter months. And we tend to seek warmth and safety within ourselves and in our environment.
So how can the ancient medicine of Ayurveda help us with this beautiful transition into fall? I turned to herbalist, Ayurvedic wellness counselor, permaculturist, and former northern Kentucky native Jenny Griffith to show us the way.
Jenny Griffith (From her website)
Q: What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a system of healing that is derived from ancient India. It is said to be the oldest healing system in the world. Ayuh means life and Veda means knowledge. It is a medicinal science and its purpose is to maintain the quality and longevity of life. It consists of a daily regimen that has evolved from practical, philosophical, and spiritual illumination. Ayurveda explains that everyone has their own unique constitution, mind, and consciousness that is the foundation of our health and happiness. There is no concept of specialization. Ayurveda treats the whole person, not just the organ or system involved. Q: How is Ayurveda helpful to our health?
Ayurveda is helpful to understand because it shows a different perspective than we are used to here in the west. Ayurveda is comprised of 5 elements that make up all of existence, including human life. The five elements are; water, space, air, fire, and earth. Through a test or Ayurvedic consultation, you can find out how much of each element we have within our bodies. These elements are paired into three constitutions, called doshas. The word doshas actually mean “fault” or “impurity.” Air and space is the Vata dosha. Water and fire is Pitta. Lastly, water and earth is the Kapha dosha. When we find out which dosha we are, we can begin to add the opposing elements into our life. For example, if you are primarily the Vata dosha, you would want to reduce air + space by eliminating something like crunchy/dry chips from your diet and adding the opposite element like earth. So you would add more moist and wet foods like avocado and ghee into your diet to ground.
Q: How can we invite Ayurveda into our daily lives?
There are many practices that you can incorporate into your daily life. One of my favorites lately is practicing an oil treatment called abhyanga. Every morning I self massage my face with a medicinal oil to wake myself up, reduce any sleepy/puffy swelling, and bring moisture into all of my facial orifices like nostrils and eyes. I also recommend buying a tongue scraper to remove excess toxins from the tongue each day and night. Lastly, Ayurveda recommends living in unison with the sun and the moon. This means to wake when the sun rises and begin bedtime when the sun is setting. You will feel so much better if you live in conjunction with nature’s rhythms.
Q: What do you recommend for people as they transition into fall?
Fall is a time of heightened Vata dosha. This means we may experience more dry skin, anxiety, insomnia, bloating, gas, spasms, etc. It is best if we begin incorporating more warming and wet into our lifestyle. Examples of this could be reducing cold and dry foods and adding more warm/hot foods with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. Warm and slower physical activity is best as well; try a warm yin yoga class or Qi gong in nature to stay grounded. Many people tend to get antsy and overwhelmed during the fall. Make a point to meditate often and take periods of silence throughout the day away from the screen to stay present and calm.
Jenny currently works in addiction recovery at Villa Kali Ma Women’s Treatment Center in Carlsbad, CA. She also works with 1:1 with clients, guides groups online, and provides in-person programs about regenerative living and health. She is also in the midst of launching an herbal product line with slow and hand-harvested medicine that she grows herself. To learn more and connect with Jenny, find her on Instagram @jennygracegriffith and on her website www.jennygriffith.com.