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Fall Rejuvenation For Vata-Pitta and Pitta-Vata Types

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Nourish Your Entire Being

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Banyan customer service supervisor, Megan (Vata-Pitta), nourishes her system with some rejuvenating tea.

Autumn is a time when we are often invited to give thanks – for the fall harvest, for the abundance of nature, for all the many things that bless our lives.  This fall, what would happen if you turned your gratitude inward and showered yourself with some deep nourishment, love and abundance?  Ayurvedic rejuvenation is aimed at doing just that, and the process truly gives the body a chance to repair and revitalize the entire organism.  To nurture the Self in this way is a profound gift, one that supports all aspects of the being – body, mind, and spirit.  As a vata-pitta or pitta-vata type, the fall and winter months are a particularly wonderful time for you to consider a rejuvenation program.  Having just passed through pitta’s most challenging time of year – the summertime – rejuvenation offers a great opportunity to reset pitta for optimal health and to fully recover from any excess heat the summer may have delivered.  And, as we move into vata season this fall, rejuvenative practices – which are very grounding, nourishing, and deeply soothing to vata – can also help to prevent vata imbalances from arising.

For those of you who recently completed (or intend to complete) a cleanse, rejuvenation is the final component of the cleanse itself.  After working so hard to purify and reset your physiology, you are prepared for deep nourishment on all levels.  And even if you did not do a fall cleanse, rejuvenation alone can strengthen and tone your physical, mental, and emotional spheres.

What’s An Appropriate Period of Time?

As with many things in Ayurveda, the length of an appropriate rejuvenation program varies from one person to the next. Rejuvenation therapies are typically implemented for a set period of time – usually at least one month and up to three months. While this may strike you as a long time, keep in mind that rejuvenation should feel nourishing and enjoyable to you. And, it can really be as simple as adding one practice or one herb to your daily routine.

  • If you completed a full seven-day cleanse, your body will benefit from a longer period of rejuvenation (about three months), starting as soon after you complete your cleanse as possible. If that timeframe feels overwhelming to you, commit to at least one month of rejuvenation.
  • If you completed a shorter cleanse, be sure to do at least one month of rejuvenation. Or, if you like, you too can rejuvenate for up to 3 months.
  • Even if you did not complete a cleanse at all, vata-pitta or pitta-vata types normally benefit from a longer period of rejuvenation – about three months. However, there may be some instances where this would not be appropriate.
    • If you have a known kapha imbalance (especially if it is of greater concern than any vata imbalances  or pitta imbalances you may have), you’ll want to go easy on rejuvenation so as not to further aggravate kapha.
    • Similarly, if you have a lot of toxicity in your system, which can be identified by a thick coating on the tongue, you’ll want to keep your rejuvenation routine very simple so that you don’t inadvertently nourish the toxins.
  • In either case, a simple rejuvenation program (of 1-3 therapies) for about a month is probably sufficient – and it might be helpful to think about choosing therapies because they are seasonally appropriate and vata-pacifying rather than focusing on their rejuvenative properties. You could also favor kapha-type rejuvenatives, which are lighter and less likely to aggravate either of the above conditions.

Pathways Toward Rejuvenation

What follows is a list of many possible rejuvenative therapies. Please don’t feel overwhelmed. The idea is not to do all of these things, but to pick and choose those recipes and practices that most resonate with you. As you consider each therapy, remember that your rejuvenation process needs to feel beneficial. It should not add stress to your life but should instead add a sense of groundedness, contentment, and joy. If several possibilities peak your interest, consider starting with 1-3 therapies and then gradually expand your repertoire of rejuvenatives only if and when it feels appropriate.

Dietary Rejuvenatives

At the most fundamental level, a healthy, balanced diet supports deep rejuvenation. All of your tissues, organs, and systems draw directly from the nourishment contained within the food you eat every day. A diet primarily composed of freshly cooked, whole foods is quite rejuvenative. On the other hand, processed foods and old, stale foods have little life-force, are difficult to digest, and often contain toxins. As a vata-pitta or pitta-vata predominant type in the heart of vata-season, your focus should be on eating a healthy and balanced vata-pacifying diet. You can compliment these broad strokes with some especially rejuvenative foods:

  • Almonds, Soaked and Peeled
    • Soaked almonds are very grounding, nourishing, and energizing. Soaking and peeling them makes them more digestible and more beneficial to the body. As such, almonds are a highly revered rejuvenative in Ayurveda.
  • Soaked Cashews
    • Cashews – which are oily, nutritive, and building – can also be used in a rejuvenation program. They actually share many qualities with soaked almonds, including the fact that soaking them makes them more digestible.
  • Rejuvenative Almond Milk
    • This very restorative drink provides another delicious way to ingest soaked and peeled almonds. You can cook with it or drink it plain. It is especially useful in fall and winter, or after a period of major exertion.
  • Dr. Lad's Date & Almond Shake
    • This shake is a warm, nourishing, and deliciously sweet breakfast or snack. It is very nutritious, grounding, and the dates, soaked almonds, and milk make it an excellent rejuvenative.
  • Dream Date Balls
    • A very good and sumptuous rejuvenative. In ancient India, these would have been considered an aphrodisiac of sorts. Very yummy.
  • Rice Khir
    • This delicious rice pudding is especially rejuvenative for pitta, so this might be a good choice if you feel like the heat got the better of you this past summer.
  • Sweet Potato Halva
    • This delectable Indian dessert can also be made with butternut or buttercup squash, or even pumpkin instead of sweet potato. Rich in vitamins and entirely delicious.
  • Urad Dal
    • This legume soup detoxifies the system and nourishes the muscle, bone, and reproductive fluids while energizing the whole body.

 

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Megan keeps warm and relaxed while stretching by the fire.

Rejuvenative Herbs

There are many different types of rejuvenating herbs – each with a distinct purpose. The most widely used Ayurvedic rejuvenatives work simultaneously on all of the body’s tissues. Below are several herbal rejuvenatives well suited for your constitution and for the fall and winter seasons. Taking these herbs and formulas with a catalytic agent such as ghee, honey, or ginger tea helps to deliver the benefits deep into the tissues, increasing the potency and efficacy of the herbs. Instructions for using each of these specifically as a rejuvenative are provided, but if you prefer to take your herbs in water or without ghee and honey, they will still be beneficial.

  • Triphala With Ghee and Honey - Triphala is a tridoshic formula that naturally rejuvenates all of the tissues in the body (while encouraging the elimination of toxins). It is an especially potent rejuvenative when taken with ghee and honey – usually first thing in the morning. Mix ½ teaspoon of powdered triphala with ½ teaspoon of ghee and ½ teaspoon of raw honey. Or, if powdered herbs aren’t your thing, take one triphala herbal tablet, followed by a mixture of ½ teaspoon ghee and ½ teaspoon raw honey.
  • Healthy Vata Tablets or Healthy Pitta Tablets - This rejuvenating blend of herbs is specifically formulated to restore and maintain balanced vata, without aggravating pitta or kapha. The herbs in this formula promote energy and vitality while supporting overall health and well-being. Healthy Vata is an excellent formula for the autumn and winter seasons, when dry, cold, and windy conditions tend to disturb vata. Take 1-2 Healthy Vata Tablets, once or twice daily, or as directed by your health practitioner.
  • Healthy Pitta Tablets - Even though it is vata season now, if summer’s heat tends to linger in your system and/or you have been plagued by pitta imbalances and are less disturbed by vata imbalances, Healthy Pitta may be more appropriate for you.  This cooling rejuvenative formula is designed to restore and maintain balanced pitta, without aggravating vata or kapha.  In particular, Healthy Pitta supports a calm mind, soothes fiery emotions, and promotes a cooler, more balanced temperament.  Take 1-2 Healthy Pitta Tablets, once or twice daily, or as directed by your health practitioner.
  • Chyavanprash - Chyavanprash is a delicious nutritive jam. It is an ancient herbal formula containing both ghee and honey – which both help to deliver the herbs to the tissues. Chyavanprash can be taken alone, it can be stirred into milk or water, or it can be spread on toast, bread, or crackers – like any other jam. Taking chyavanprash in warm milk (or almond milk, if dairy is not appropriate) helps to carry its tonifying and rejuvenating qualities deep into the tissues. As a rejuvenative, chyavanprash is typically taken in the morning, or sometimes in both the morning and the evening. Take 1-2 teaspoons once or twice daily, or as directed by your health practitioner.
  • Ashwagandha - Ashwagandha is a highly esteemed herb aimed at improving strength, energy, and vitality. It improves one’s ability to handle stress, promotes physical strength, rejuvenates the tissues (especially the muscles, bones, joints, and the nervous system), and it supports sound sleep at night. As a rejuvenative, you would typically take ½ teaspoon powdered ashwagandha in the morning, in ½ teaspoon ghee and ½ teaspoon raw honey. Or, if you would prefer a tablet, take one ashwagandha herbal tablet, followed by a mixture of ½ teaspoon ghee and ½ teaspoon raw honey.
  • Haritaki - Haritaki is one of three ingredients in the famous Ayurvedic formula, triphala, but it is particularly suited to calm vata. If your primary imbalance relates to vata, you could use haritaki instead of triphala, but in a similar manner – taking ½ teaspoon of powdered haritaki with ½ teaspoon ghee and ½ teaspoon honey in the morning, or taking 1 haritaki herbal tablet followed by a mixture of ½ teaspoon ghee and ½ teaspoon honey.
  • Amalaki - Amalaki is another of three ingredients in the famous Ayurvedic formula, triphala, but it is particularly calming to pitta.  If your primary imbalance relates to pitta, you could use amalaki in place of triphala, but in a similar manner – taking either ½ teaspoon of powdered amalaki with ½ teaspoon ghee and ½ teaspoon honey in the morning, or taking 1 amalaki herbal tablet followed by a mixture of ½ teaspoon ghee and ½ teaspoon honey.
  • Choose One:  Vata Digest or Pitta Digest
  • Vata Digest - This formula is heating, grounding, and oily and is very supportive of proper digestion in vata-types. Whether you’re in the rejuvenation phase following a cleanse (when your digestive fire requires a little boost) or you’re simply trying to redirect your body’s tendency toward vata-type digestive issues, this formula is fabulous. And since proper digestion is a cornerstone of effective rejuvenation, these tablets can truly enhance your rejuvenation experience. Take 1-2 tablets, once or twice daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.
  • Pitta Digest - This formula is designed to cool and soothe the digestive tract and to promote healthy digestion in those who tend toward pitta-type digestive issues.  Remember that effective rejuvenation relies on proper digestion.   Take 1-2 tablets, once or twice daily, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.

Rejuvenating Practices

Not surprisingly, your lifestyle has a profound impact on your body’s ability to repair, regenerate, and revitalize itself. When we fill our days – particularly our mornings – with calming, nurturing practices that set a tone of health, relaxation, and self-love, our bodies are much better able to nurture the rejuvenation process.

  • Simple Lifestyle Adjustments To Support Rejuvenation
    • Minimize stress
    • Minimize travel
    • Maintain positive relationships
    • Avoid unfamiliar places or situations that might incite anxiety, fear, or loneliness
    • Wear warm clothes through the colder months, and take care to cover your head and ears when outdoors
    • Undertake a period of celibacy to preserve your life force

In addition to any of the above commitments that appeal to you, you can incorporate some more formal practices to invite rejuvenation on a very deep level.

  • Abhyanga (Ayurvedic Oil Massage)
    Each morning, before a shower or bath, massage about ¼ cup warm Vata Massage Oil or Organic Sesame Oil into the skin. If your skin is especially sensitive to heat, you can use Pitta Massage Oil or cut your sesame oil by half with Organic Sunflower Oil.  A daily oil massage calms, lubricates and rejuvenates the tissues – in particular, the nervous system. For further instructions on this rejuvenating technique, click here.
  • Oil Your Scalp & Feet Before Sleep
    Before bed, apply some warm Sesame Oil to your scalp and to the soles of your feet. This practice grounds the energy, soothes the nervous system, reduces stress, and quiets the mind – all of which support sound sleep. Remember that sleep is one of the body’s most essential avenues of rejuvenation.
  • Nasya
    Each morning (or at least several times per week) apply 3-5 drops of Nasya Oil into each nostril. This practice helps to soothe the nasal passages while promoting unobstructed breathing, relieving accumulated stress, supporting mental clarity and fostering the unfolding of awareness.
  • Yoga
    Vata Pacifying Yoga, which is very gentle, grounding, and nourishing, is the best practice for you this season, especially if you are undertaking a period of rejuvenation. Restorative postures such as legs up the wall, and corpse pose are particularly beneficial when it comes to rejuvenation.
  • Meditation, Pranayama, Quiet Time, and/or Reflective Time
    Any quiet, contemplative practice – even if it is only 5-15 minutes in duration – is incredibly rejuvenative to the mind and physiology. Practicing in the early morning hours, especially before and around dawn, is powerfully supportive of rejuvenation.

Rejuvenative Products to Consider

Recipes

 

References

1. “Chyawanprash.” Wikipedia. Online. Retrieved 24 Apr. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chyawanprash

2. Lad, Vasant. Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing. The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. 73, 236.

3. Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 3: General Principles of Management and Treatment. The Ayurvedic Press, 2012. 407-409, 418.

4. Morningstar, Amadea. The Ayurvedic Cookbook. Lotus Press, 1990. 236, 245, 256.

5. Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Churchill Livingston Elsevier, 2006. 296-297.