Fall for Vata-Pitta and Pitta-Vata

Optimize Your Health This Autumn

Banyan friend, Krista


Because you’re transitioning from pitta season to vata season, both of your primary doshas will need some attention this fall. You’ll want to center yourself and watch your pace to ensure that neither pitta nor vata get over-stimulated, and you’ll need to offer your tissues some deep nourishment.

Foods to Favor

While your diet will be aimed at pacifying both vata and pitta, focus on cooling autumn foods in the early fall: avocados, sweet berries, coconut, dates, figs, red grapes, melons, soaked raisins, soaked prunes, asparagus, cilantro, cucumber, green beans, okra, parsnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, summer squash, zucchini, amaranth, oatmeal, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, mung beans, tofu, soft cheeses, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, buffalo, soaked and peeled almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds. Then, as the weather cools, add some heating foods like mango, sweet oranges, cooked carrots, cooked onions, leeks, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, fish, and shrimp. As you make this transition, consider adding cardamom, cinnamon, dill, fresh ginger, parsley, savory, and lemon to your pitta-pacifying standbys of cumin, coriander, fennel, mint, and saffron.

Acceptable Seasonal Indulgences

Sweet taste calms both vata and pitta, so fall is a good time to indulge your sweet tooth a bit. Nourishing sweets with some substance—sweet breads, warm milky puddings, a date shake, or sun balls—will feel better than nutritionally empty, sugary snacks. You could also treat yourself to a cup of hot, spiced-milk (with a little nutmeg, cinnamon, ghee, and natural sugar) before bed to promote sound sleep.

Foods to Minimize

Go easy on foods that aggravate both vata and pitta like cranberries, corn, eggplant, raw onions, radishes, turnips, millet, and rye. Beyond that, pay attention to your digestion and watch for signs of increasing pitta (acidity, diarrhea, rash, sour-smelling breath) or increasing vata (gas, bloating, constipation, dry skin) and adjust your approach as needed to maintain your sense of equilibrium.

Lifestyle Adjustments

When it comes down to it, both vata and pitta will benefit from an effort to slow down, ground, and do some self-nurturing this fall. Make a conscious effort to mellow your intensity and resist the impulse to overbook yourself. Be sure to take some down-time to simply lie on the couch, curl up with a good book, take an afternoon nap, or relax with friends. For exercise, emphasize slow, graceful, strengthening activities over fast and furious ones. In your yoga practice, cultivate a strong connection with the earth, bring consciousness to deep, fluid breaths, and be sure to incorporate standing poses, forward folds, twists, restorative postures, some Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing), and a lengthy period of restoration in Savasana.

You may also find it helpful to read both the vata and pitta sections of this guide for more hints on supporting these doshas during the fall.