As the wheel of the year turns and we approach the Autumnal Equinox, the Sun is illuminating our skies in the northern hemisphere shorter and shorter each day. The Sun is the primary driver of seasonal change, as Earth’s exposure to the Sun changes the ratio of elements in our environment. As the amount of time that light and heat start to decrease around us, we move closer to the Vata season, the season of Air.
A period of time we call Ritu Sandhi is coming around again, which is the juncture between any two seasons. It roughly encompasses a 7-day period before the Equinox and 7 days after. This can be a vulnerable time for our health and well-being as it is when we all run the risk of doshic aggravation if we don't offset any seasonally-induced imbalances.
Ayurveda guides us to gradually start letting go of the diet and lifestyle practices of the previous season and slowly start adapting our practices to the upcoming season. It's a gradual process, not an abrupt change. It follows the weather and climate, not the calendar. Also, one must consider their unique constitution, as well as their imbalances.
Most of us have likely accumulated some excess heat (or Pitta) in our bodies and minds over the Summer, especially if we have not followed a cooler diet and calmer lifestyle practices to keep the extra heat in check. Once Fall comes around and brings an increase in the Air quality (dry, light, windy, scattered), it is like oxygen to the excess Fire element harboring within us and can further exacerbate any heat-related conditions that bring inflammation and irritation of all kinds.
Ritu Sandhi provides us an opportunity to release excess heat so that we can move into Fall with more balance and strength. It is a powerful time to reset and attune our bodily rhythms with Nature to account for the shift in energies in our environment.
Here are some potent ways to take advantage of the Ritu Sandhi before Fall:
Adjust wake/bedtimes to reflect the change in sunlight. You may notice you get sleepy a little earlier and need a few more minutes to wake up in the morning. Honor this as much as you can. See my blog on Moon Milk to help support sleep.
Avoid daytime sleep (unless you are sick). Naps are ok in the long days of Summer for some, but as our daylight decreases, napping can mess with our nighttime routine.
Consider an at-home Kitchari cleanse for 2-5 days. This is a very practical, inexpensive digestive reset that allows you to lightly detoxify, renew your cells & tap into your natural hunger cues. It's akin to doing an oil change for the body & mind. See my blog for a Kitchari recipe.
Follow the changes in produce at the market and choose foods that are in season in your geographical location. Visiting a Farmer's Market is a great way to be in sync with Nature.
If you're not already doing so, start incorporating daily self-massage (Abhyanga) into your routine. It lubricates the joints & tissues and protects your nervous system, especially important as we move into the dry, airy & electrical season of Fall. See my blog for more on Abhyanga.
Stick to a daily routine, or get into one if you don't have one. Fall brings scattered ungrounded energy. Having a daily routine is one of the best ways to support your nervous system, mental health, and immunity as it allows the body & mind to get into a rhythm & therefore work more efficiently.
Drinking a cup of plain warm water first thing in the morning helps open the cell walls of the intestinal tract allowing for better nutrient absorption and supports proper elimination. Adding Chamomile or Peppermint tea to your regime throughout the day also supports elimination, and in addition, helps reduce the build-up of Summer heat.
To be prepared for the upcoming season, see my previous blog for guidance on how to stay balanced throughout Fall.