There is a cycle to life that’s happening around you and inside of you. Everything is connected and according to Ayurveda, comprised of the five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and space. And so, as the seasons change so do you. Thus, your experience is greatly determined by how in-tune you are with your mind and body in relation to nature. For this, Ayurveda provides different ways to connect with yourself which can help you recognize the rhythms of nature within you, in truth, Ayurveda may already be in your life.
Every mind-body is different and is constantly changing and even the process of learning about Ayurveda depends on your learning style. To get a better understanding of your mind-body type through an Ayurvedic perspective, you can look at the doshas. They consistent of Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water). Everyone has each of these elements in their mind-body, however, some may be more predominant than others. In addition to your internal cycle of balancing these elements, the seasons also have a predominant dosha that has a direct impact on the changes to your dosha.
Winter: Kapha & Vata
Winter, depending on your local climate, can be a time for hibernation and restoration. It has the same qualities as Kapha and Vata, so it’s a tricky time of year where depending on your dosha you can experience dry or oily skin; your mind may have racing thoughts or you could feel slow (dull), and heavy. The common quality they both possess is cold.
When you feel an imbalance, you can look at the opposite quality to harmonize it. For example, if you have dry skin, adding more doshic specific oils to your diet and performing abhyanga are great ways to combat dry skin; you will feel less cold and more grounded. If you tend to oily skin, you can also perform abhyanga, however, rather than oil, you can use a natural bristle brush or gloves. This method is stimulating (heating) and will help remove toxins that may be weighing you down mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Spring Season: Kapha
As winter begins melting away, we lose the brisk qualities of Vata and step fully into spring. Kapha becomes more predominant and the natural world slowly starts to move. You may feel like you’re softly beginning to open and become more grounded. If you are out of balance, the heavy qualities of kapha could accumulate and you may feel cloudy and even stuck.
To keep Kapha moving, think of the opposite qualities. For example, if you feel cloudy, more clarity is needed. Clarity can be achieved in many ways, for example, daily meditation, vigorous yoga, chanting, warm water, fresh foods and light (not necessarily raw), all can help bring more clarity to the mind and body, especially when practiced with routine.
Summer Season: Pitta
The dense moisture begins to lessen and the heat of summer starts to prevail. Dominated by Pitta, the summer season has hot, sharp (penetrating), and light qualities. If you are out of balance you could tend to become easily agitated with yourself and others, you may be more prone to skin rashes and feel ungrounded.
To balance Pitta, look to its opposite qualities. If you are hot (physically or mentally), pranayama, in particular, sitali breath, is a great way to cool and ground your mind and body. You can slow down sharp (penetrating) qualities like aggression by spending time in nature – where there’s abundant shade, and by reducing or avoiding your alcohol and caffeine intake. If you are feeling light and ungrounded, add a restorative yoga pose to your day – legs up the wall pose is a great way to balance the qualities of pitta.
Fall Season: Vata
As the intensity of summer begins to lessen, the subtle qualities of Vata begin rolling in. Similar to Pitta, it has light qualities, however, rather than oily it’s dry and rather than hot, it’s cold. Besides, Vata brings with it mobile and rough qualities which can be balanced by the stable and smooth qualities found in Kapha. For example, during Fall, you may feel the need for constant change or be more prone to insomnia. These mobile qualities can be balanced by stable qualities such as keeping a routine – waking up, going to sleep, and eating at the same times every day will help stabilize the expectations of your mind and body.
Eating freshly cooked foods like rooted vegetables and avoiding raw and frozen foods is another way to ground yourself. You may also experience rough qualities including dry skin hair, brittle nails, and constipation. To balance these rough qualities, you can include healthy fats in your diet like avocado and ghee and avoid dry foods like granola, crackers, and cereal. Also, Fall is a great time to begin practicing abhyanga which will also help you smoothly transition into the winter season.
Overall, each season is going to bring with it distinct qualities that will interact with each of us differently. The way you relate to the external elements will change depending on your internal elements. Your internal elements evolve with the different stages of your life and can even change from moment-to-moment. It’s through the teachings of Ayurveda that we learn to listen to our bodies, quiet our minds, and embrace the flow. For more information, read about 3 ways that Ayurveda can change your life.
All material provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Direct consultation of a qualified Ayurvedic Health Counselor should be sought for any specific questions or issues.