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Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Staying Grounded in the face of the Winds of Change

This week, I want to talk a bit about what Ayurveda has to offer those of us who may be experiencing an excess of anxiety, fear, insecurity or confusion. I suspect that will be leaving very few of us out!

Such emotions as those listed above are indicative of aggravated Vata. When the weather begins to grow cooler, drier, and more windy and variable, you can be sure we are entering into Vata season. Physically, we feel cooler, our skin dries and may even crack or get chapped. Those of us who are more Vata by nature may even begin to suffer from more joint pain and cracking or popping, constipation, cold extremities, brittle and falling hair, along with the emotional disturbances listed above.

Vata is the principle of movement responsible for all movement of body and mind -- the movement along the digestive tract, especially as it relates to elimination, menstruation, childbirth, gross muscular movement, the rhythmic movement of the heart and lungs, and the subtle movement of mind and emotion (the nervous system). The two elements that comprise Vata are Air and Space. All phenomena that share the characteristics of Air and Space, including but not limited to food, colors, aromas, sounds and actions will tend to increase Vata. So the obvious solution to aggravated Vata is to emphasize those phenomena that have the opposite characteristics of Air and Space.

Vata is subtle, light, cool, rough, drying, and variable. Therefore, we need to emphasize grosser, heavier, warmer, smooth, moist and more stable kinds of things to offset increased Vata. We Do Not Need To Completely Avoid All That Increases Vata IF we simply make sure not to go overboard and maintian an appropriate balance for our particualar situation. Therefore, if you are suffering from a Vata imbalance, OR you are constitutionally a Vata type, then you should follow the following suggestions more whole-heartedly than a Pitta, for instance. But, as it is Vata season, we could all benefit from shifting at least a bit more to Vata-pacifying routines.

Thus, we can all begin to eat more grounding foods (root vegetables, whole grains) cooked as soups and stews, and less cold, raw, rough foods. Perhaps instead of cold salads, we can have pressed salads, lightly steamed or sauteed vegeatables.

Please begin to wear a hat, and protect your throat and ears, especially on windy days. Don't forget to wear mittens or gloves as the weather grows colder.

A warm sesame oil full-body massage (circle the joints and stroke the long bones) several mornings a week, along with foot massage every night before bed can do wonders to calm Vata, keep prana flowing, and at night ground Vata and insure good, nourishing sleep! A few drops of oil in the ears can protect against the headaches caused by wind blowing across the aural canal opening. While you are at it, a few drops up each nostril can also protect against the drying of the nasal passages (from indoor heat as well as the drier air) that often leads to sinus infection.

If you like using aromatherapy, scents such as Lavender, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Orange, Clove, Cinnamon and Lemon can all be helpful for calming Vata, and Clary Sage is used to help bring clarity of vision (not eyesight, but understanding is what is meant here).

Asanas that emphasize grounding (seated postures, forward bends) as well as warming (sun salutations, twists) should be utilized along with Deep Belly Breathing, Ujjayi and Alternate Nostril Pranayama as part of your Yoga practice.

Lastly, Meditation is essential for all of us. Anapanasati (Awareness of Breathing) and Mantra Meditation are two practices that can be especially useful for Vata.

Of course, all this is general as Ayurveda is truly a science of individualized attention, so if you would like to proceed further in learning how Ayurveda can help bring increased balance and well-being into your life, you need to see a trained practitioner. Please feel free to contact me if you would like help in finding a practitioner near you.


.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 7:00 PM

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