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Sep 25

What is Vata Season?

truffpark12-06About mid-September, you may have heard your Yoga teacher mention “Vata Season” but what does it mean? Is it good or bad, and what should you being doing during this funny sounding time of year? The fact is it is the normal progression of the calendar as we move away from summer’s heat and the cool winds of change begin to blow, and you only need to be aware of these shifts of temperature and humidity, and notice how external changes may be playing on your own energy. Vata is one of the three Doshas—along with Kapha and Pitta. The three Doshas are states of being in the environment, and present in all beings and even inanimate objects. All three, at ever-changing ratios, are affecting our energy at any given time. Doshas are studied in the science of Ayurveda which endeavors to strike the right balance of Kapha, Pitta and Vata. The Doshas are best understood when we consider which of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) make up each Dosha.

Kapha is composed of earth and water, and like mud represents the heaviest and most dense state. Days when we can’t get out of bed to come to class and we drag through life at a snail’s pace usually mean Kapha is charge. Pitta is the combination of fire and water. Think a pot on the stove at a rolling boil emitting a lot of steam. Pitta folks get things done and often push themselves and others harder than they really need to. Those of you who felt this mornings practice was a bit on the wimpy side and you didn’t get to sweat enough; your Pitta may have been up. Vata is made up of air and space. It is the lightest of the three Doshas and when someone says “her head is in the clouds” you can bet that Vata is the guiding force.

This morning’s class included poses to balance the effects of Vata season. We started in Supta Badakonasana where we focused on a longer exhale than inhale, then moved into Potted Palm really feeling the floor under our hands and sit bones. Balancing in table top with opposite hand and leg extended forced us to root down with the parts of the body on the mat. This led to core work to build heat and we were off and running—well, actually we were moving slowly and deliberately to counteract the winds of autumn and break the cycle of go-go-go that is Vata.

As the season’s change it can be informative to know a little about the three Doshas and try to maintain balance to avoid feeling edgy, off kilter, and eventually unwell. When the weather moves toward cold and windy (like it was this morning!!) it is nice to seek out the opposite on our mat, through our diet and in our approach to life. If Vata gets too high, an Asana practice that keep us grounded, with poses that we hold for a long time to build some heat, is perhaps more useful than rushing through Sun Salutes and Vinyasas which will put more movement into our already over-busy systems.

As the leaves dry and crackle, drink more warm, or room temperature liquids, to stay hydrated. As the city comes alive after summer break and you are urged to work harder and do more, try to carve out time to rest, meditate, and be still even for a few minutes. Add some heavier foods to your diet—and don’t get nervous about the carbs. If you are maintaining a regular schedule (this is important at this time when Vata can induce flakiness!) and coming to class, where we might be holding a chair pose for a really long time in order to feel the earth beneath our feet you will be burning plenty of calories.

1 comment

  1. Becky

    Hi Amy, Thank you so much for your insightful post! I have been feeling very anxious lately and spacier than usual. It helps to know that is not just me! See you Thursday – couldn’t make it out of the house this morning, just too much going on and couldn’t seem to get myself organized. Now I know why!

    Warmest wishes,
    Becky

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