A cool autumn breeze is one of my favorite feelings. Leaves fall gently to the ground, wistful on their journey. The Vata dosha is composed of the elements Air and Ether, which in excess can create dryness in the body especially during the winter months when the Vata dosha is in the stage of aggravation. Our bodies naturally want to be in alignment with the seasons. As the winds pick up and coolness fills the air we gravitate towards pumpkin spice lattes, soups, root veggies, and pot roasts. We start wanting more introspection, which can calm the mind of excess air and ether. Emotions of worry, overwhelm and anxiety is how the body reacts to an overabundance of Vata dosha in the mind. In this short article, I will explain some simple ayurvedic practices that can help moisten, ground, and warm you up for the upcoming winter months of air and ether.
Herbal prevention for dryness:
Herbs that help you hold water in your body and keep you hydrated are both essential for winter and summer for individuals with a strong Vata constitution. These herbs are called demulcents you can easily turn this demulcent tea into a delicious herbal pumpkin spice late.
Ingredients: 1 tsp rooibos tea, 1 tsp marshmallow rt, 1 tsp slippery elm, ½ tsp cinnamon bark, ½ tsp cardamom hulled, ½ tsp grated fresh ginger ½ tsp licorice root.
Instructions: add all ingredients (except the rooibos add that in after done simmering) to 10oz water, cover (leave a little opening for steam) simmer on low for about 20 min. *Double/triple/quadruple this recipe to make a larger batch. Strain out herbs and add desired milk. Sip, Enjoy.
Fall Kichadi recipe to prevent excess Vata:
Coconut Curry Butternut Kichadi:
Every Ayurvedic practitioner will talk about Kichadi at some point. Kichadi is like Indian chicken noodle soup. You can eat it when you are sad, sick, depleted, stagnant, dry, or need to cleanse. It can be prepared in many different ways to aid in a specific issue. It can be made more nourishing or more cleansing. A coconut curry butternut kichadi is going to be on the more nourishing side and can be made vegan, vegetarian, or with a bone broth.
1 whole med- large butternut squash peeled and cubed
8 whole fresh Jerusalem artichoke
1 – 2 cans coconut milk/cream (depending on your likeness for creamy soups)
4 cups veggie broth or bone broth
1 .5 cups mung beans ( soaked and lightly sprouted if whole, just rinsed thoroughly if split) See article * on the importance of sprouting legumes, nuts and seeds, and grains
½ cup quinoa or brown rice
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
½ tbsp cardamom
½ tbsp cinnamon
½ tbsp ginger
¼ tsp clove
4- 8 clove garlic chopped fine ( garlic is considered tamasic so if you follow a yogic/sattvic diet, omit)
1 red onion chopped fine (onion is considered tamasic so if you follow a yogic/sattvic diet, omit)
*See Dr. Halpern’s video on the Gunas
¼ cup chopped cilantro for topping
Salt to taste in general the salty taste is balancing to Vata, but I like to leave salt up to the person who will be enjoying the meal 1 tsp of salt while cooking can help bring out other flavors. Add more or less to your liking.
At least 1 heaping tbsp ghee or sub for coconut oil, although ghee does not technically contain milk fat and can be digested by lactose intolerant individuals.
- In a large pot put in ghee, spices, butternut squash, mung beans, onion, and garlic. Let simmer on low for 2-3 min until you notice the contents getting a little toasted.
- Add in the bone broth/veggie broth and coconut milk/cream add in a little water if needed.
- Cook on low to med heat for about 30-45 min. make sure the pot is covered with a small opening for a little steam to be released. Check on it every 15 min to make sure that it doesn’t need more water.
>>>You will end up with different consistencies whether you used whole or split mung, just make sure the bean is cooked thoroughly to determine it is done, as well as the squash, they should take about the same amount of time.
- In a separate medium-sized pot, add 1 tbsp ghee and toast your rice the same way for just a few min. Then add in water to cover the quinoa/rice by about an inch, cover the pot and that should take about 45 min for brown rice and a bit less for quinoa. You may need to add a little water. You can also use a rice cooker if that is what you prefer.
- Once the two dishes are done you can combine them into one pot or serve more of a deconstructed kichadi with the rice under the coconut squash with mung.
- Sprinkle a little cilantro on top and serve.
Daily practice to reduce dryness:
The practice of self-massage abhyanga does more than just simply moisten the skin and relieve dry itchy discomfort. Abhyanga is also referred to as a lymphatic massage by doing the motions of long strokes on your long bones and round circular motions on your joints. This helps move toxins and clears stagnation in the blood and lymph. It also creates a deeper bond with yourself. This can be especially profound if an individual is lacking physical contact in their life. When you perform acts of self-love, you are filling your own heart and bringing joy to your spirit so you can bring joy to others.
For more information on specific oils for each dosha and a how-to video check on our link to Abhyanga, Ayurvedic Massage, and the Practice Self Love
In Ayurveda, we are always trying to be one step ahead of the imbalance that may occur from seasonal transitions. When you know what is coming you can follow the best protocol for prevention. Since Vata increases air and ether the course of prevention is to increase the elements of earth and water. Through the grounding, moistening and calming practices I have mentioned above the body can be stabilized enough to not feel such a great impact from nature’s seasonal movement.
Nothing in this article is intended to treat or diagnose. As always it is best to work with a practitioner to get the most fine-tuned protocols for your unique combination of the elements.