Balancing Excess Vata Energy in Fall and Early Winter
Fall and early winter is a time of Vata energy
Vata season is characterized by an influx of dry, cool air, and a feeling of change. Movement is everywhere; rustling of the wind, leaves blowing, birds and animals preparing,a new season settling in as the past season falls away. Autumn and early winter is a time when the trees find themselves with less and less moisture, changing colors and falling to the earth. Autumn is a spectacular showing, and Mother Nature’s subtle reminder that it is time for us to ground, allow what no longer serves us to fall away, and to honor our connection to earth.
Vata season is a time of year when we all seek warmth, reflection, comfort, and grounding. This seeking may present itself in our clothing, food, drink, recreational, self-care, yoga, and meditation choices and practices. When we do not practice balance, we may experience excess vata energy, leaving us feeling frantic, nervous, worried, cold, hurried, and lost. A vata imbalance may leave us feeling dry inside and out.
Given the restlessness of the season, we wanted to share a few Yoga and Ayurvedic practices that may help you incorporate some grounding and balancing practice into your day as we navigate the transitional, windy, and cold vata season.
Morning Meditation and Pranayama
4-7-8 breath for grounding
4-7-8 breathing consists of inhaling to a count of four, holding for a count of seven, and releasing on a count of eight. This practice increases oxygen flow while relaxing the mind and body. A deep inhale, and slow steady exhale stimulates our vagus nerve and activates our parasympathetic response-rest and digest. Often, we can literally feel the body calm down when engaging in a long, controlled exhale. This grounding practice can help us fall asleep, ease racing thoughts, and bring us back to a grounded and balanced place when we are in our sympathetic response (fight or flight). It may be helpful to lie on your back and place your palms and/or a heavy blanket on your belly to feel the belly rise and fall as you breathe.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) for balance
Find a comfortable seated position. Bend your index and middle finger to your palm, leaving your ring and pinky finger extended (think: hang loose hand!) Press your right thumb to your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril for a count of 4. Hold both nostrils and retain the breath for 7 counts. Then release your right thumb and take your ring finger to your left nostril, exhaling through your right nostril for a count of 8. Continue by inhaling for 4 counts on the right, retain 7, and exhale 8 counts of breath on the left. Continue for 1–3 minutes or until you start to feel calm. End on an exhale through the left nostril.
**NOTE: If retaining (holding) the breath causes anxiety or stress, simply focus on inhaling and exhaling. Also, refrain from retaining breath if you experience untreated high blood pressure, glaucoma, or if you are menstruating or pregnant.
Utilizing Bhu Mudra after Pranayama to bring grounding to our practice
While in a seated position, extend the pointer and middle fingers while curling the remaining fingers in (ring and pinky fingers held in by the thumb).
Place the pointer and middle fingers on your yoga mat or seat; grounding one’s energy to the earth.
Take 6-10 deep cycles of breath. Notice your energy settling to the ground.
1 - 10 minute (or more) seated meditation with Gyan Mudra for focus and concentration
Meditation is often best suited after some physical movement, so you can take to your cushion without the restless wiggles. Settle in and simply breathe. Repeating “I am breathing in, I am breathing out” in your mind is a great way to begin meditation. As thoughts enter your mind, and they will, notice them and watch them pass by like clouds in the sky. Notice the air coming into your nostrils and exiting. Notice the way the air feels, is it warm? We recommend silent, seated meditation. Simply breathe.
Mudras are hand positions that can influence the energies of the body, the breath, and mood. To come into gyan mudra, open palms to sky and bring the index finger to the tip of the thumb (think of Rafiki in Lion King).
Notice basic body functioning
How have those bowels been moving? Yes, seriously. Vata imbalance is drying and contributes to constipation. Our bodies are always giving us subtle, and not so subtle, signals.
Drink a plain glass of water (or add a squeeze of lime) each morning before anything else.
Organic Cold Press Sesame Oil Oleation
Try a soothing self massage with sesame oil to lovingly moisturize the skin (instead of lotion). This nurturing practice feels oh-so-luxurious!
Add ghee (organic clarified butter) to your morning oatmeal, toast etc. Nourishing internal oleation is a lovely practice to balance excess vata from the inside out.
Soothing Asana Practice (Slowwww it down y’all)
Notice your feet. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and feel the earth beneath you. Breathe deeply into the ground. Imagine roots extending from your feet into the earth, expanding into a vast network of roots holding you in place.
If you choose to incorporate more postures, rather than moving through each asana quickly: Slow. It. Down. Hold each pose for longer periods of time and notice your three part breath. Breathe deeply into the rib cage and notice the side and back ribs expanding and contracting.
Notice what helps you feel grounded, warm, balanced, and cozy. Lean into the shift. Perhaps try one of these suggested practices or incorporate one of your own. Your body is your first teacher, and we are merely offering ideas. Maybe guide yourself through the process with journaling.
Some journaling prompts to try when snuggled up with a warm cup of tea:
I am most grounded when…
Some barriers to feeling grounded and balanced include…
Notice the pace of your life. Are you frenzied, frantic, and constantly on the go? If yes, are there any ways you can slow the pace? Are there any barriers you can erect to protect your inner sense of calm? Are there any commitments or obligations you can politely decline by openly communicating that you need to readjust your schedule to find some balance?
One way I can incorporate a grounding practice into my daily life includes…
Remember that although your body may be busy, you are always home- simply ride your breath to refuge and calm.
Love ya omies! We also recommend slippers, hot cider or tea, fuzzy blankets, warming fires, and lots of snuggles!
P.S. Don’t forget to make time for you. We can best serve others when we come from a balanced place.
Thirsty for more?
Resources for more information on nourishing Yoga and Ayurveda Practices.
Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph Le Page and Lillian Le Page
Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Ayurveda Articles available through the California College of Ayurveda and Dr. Marc Halpern: https://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/drhalpern/intro
Ayurveda articles and constitution/dosha test by Dr. Deepak Chopra available at: https://chopra.com/articles/what-is-ayurveda
We wrote this blog together.
Typically, we write blogs individually or post blogs written by Omies. This was a team effort over the past two months. We had a blast writing and editing together. We think it’s something we’ll definitely try again!
Amanda Imes, Bryana Cook, Joella Erin