Six Ways to Access Vata’s Gifts in the Fall and Early Winter
In autumn, the wind element increases around us and within us. As the air becomes cool and crisp we may feel relieved—even reinvigorated—after the long hot summer. Simultaneously, we may experience an innate desire to go inward, recommit to our routines, and explore creative projects with new eyes. This is the season of vata dosha.
Depending where you are in the world, vata season can extend from the fall well into the winter months, especially if you live somewhere especially cold and dry.
The Many Gifts of Vata Dosha
Vata dosha is responsible for creativity, clarity, imagination, intuition, communication, movement, joy, and adaptability. These energies can make us more inclined toward change and quick to act. Vata gives us the gift of being able to pivot, which is often why fall feels so ripe with change.
When vata is flowing in a balanced way in our bodies and minds—like a gentle breeze—we have access to all the tools within that allow us to imagine, create, and adapt, while easefully orienting toward new possibilities and creative solutions.
Think about the wind blowing, subtle and soft. Wind has the power to make the leaves on the trees dance, to clear space, to bring lightness by drying excess moisture, and to change direction at any moment.
Vata, like the wind, bestows a subtle power within us to feel light in our bodies and clear in our minds. Like the wind, vata inspires us to dance, move, create, and express. In many ways, vata exists as our inner artist.
This inspired vata energy may show up as a new insight, an ever-evolving curiosity, a compelling understanding of yourself, a sense of excitement for what is possible, a genuine willingness to adapt, a deep desire to create, or a strong pull to try something new.
These are just a few examples of how the gifts of vata dosha manifest, and they are all available to you this season. Each and every one of us have vata within us, which means we all have the potential to access these clear and creative aspects of ourselves.
Have you ever noticed how life-giving it feels when you get swept up in a gust of inspiration to revisit an old art project, open up your journal, or try out an entirely new craft? Likely, you find yourself so engrossed that time and space take a different shape. In these moments, vata is with you.
Have you ever surprised yourself by thinking outside of the box to land on a totally unique and effective solution? This, too, is vata energy. Vata is the lifeforce behind our best ideas. It is the antidote to stagnancy. It keeps things moving and changing.
Vata, like the wind, can fit into different shapes. As a result, vata people are great at networking. Vata helps us make quick connections and meet others where they are.
The clarity and intuition made possible by the subtle and receptive qualities of vata within us give way to many other benefits as well. Vibrant vata may show up as a clear mind, inquisitive nature, strong intuition, and even a powerful connection to one's own spirit. It is also the vital force behind breath, elimination, and heartbeat.
How to Recognize Imbalanced Vata
When this inner wind gets too active, we might have a difficult time focusing or staying on task. We may even become overwhelmed by ideas, questions, and uncertainty. This is what gives rise to anxiousness, restless sleep, and racing thoughts.
When vata is unattended, especially in the cold and windy seasons, we may feel a strong desire to make a lot of changes all at once. This can quickly turn into chaos, leaving us overwhelmed and unable to actually follow through or stay consistent with our goals.
Air and ether are fragile energies, and they need to be handled with the utmost care. Too much of these elements within us can be debilitating.
We may experience dry skin, imbalanced digestion, cold hands and feet, uncomfortable joints, brittle hair or nails, low libido, uncomfortable or infrequent menstrual cycles, and even forgetfulness or loss of memory.
Excess vata can make us flighty, easily distracted, forgetful, and unable to make a decision or finish what we’ve started.
If we refuse vata’s need for steady, grounding, and gentle attention, the flow of energy in our subtle channels can become erratic and unpredictable.
When vata’s needs are met, on the other hand, our healthy vata qualities thrive. Becoming aware of these needs requires being in a deep relationship with ourselves—learning to listen to our bodies and respond with care.
6 Ways to Care for Vata in the Fall and Early Winter
The active and inspired qualities of healthy vata enable us to imagine, create, and express with great joy so that we can show up in the world as our very best, most authentic selves.
Here are six ways that Ayurveda can help us harness the energy of the season and experience the best that vata has to offer.
1. Stay Warm and Cozy
Vata loves to be warm and cozy. You can deepen your relationship with this dosha by cultivating a beautiful and relaxing space in your home that prioritizes easy access to simple comforts. Try putting a super soft blanket on your couch or getting a couple new candles. It may also soothe vata to decrease visual clutter by making sure things are put in their proper place.
2. Enjoy Moist and Grounding Foods
Enjoy soups, roasted root vegetables, cooked spinach, okra, small lentils, sour fruits, vinegar-based dressings, and even pickled produce. Make sure to incorporate plenty of healthy fats (like ghee) and gentle warming spices (like cumin, turmeric, and ginger) as well.
Without thoughtful nourishment, vata can become too light and clear, leading to a feeling of anxiousness or overwhelm, rather than inspiration and ease.
3. Transition to Gentle Forms of Exercise
As vata increases, try switching up your movement routine to incorporate more gentle yoga, walking, peaceful hiking, and dance. Thes practices will ground vata, while also creating space for creative expression and connection to the earth.
Excessive or overly ambitious movement can give rise to vata challenges, so tune into your body and give yourself permission to move with purpose at a steady pace.
4. Practice Spiritual Self-Care
Because of vata’s ethereal nature and tendency toward anxiousness, spiritual self-care practices can be extremely beneficial to increase your inner resilience. Stabilize creativity and intuition by committing to a daily mindfulness practice that works for you.
Do your best to return to this practice around the same time each day—when it comes to working with vata, consistency is key.
5. Practice Self-Massage with Oil
When tending to vata in the fall, it is important to stay grounded. The most potent clarity and creativity come through when our vata knows that we are safe and supported. The art of abhyanga, or self-massage with oil, soothes vata on the deepest level to calm the nervous system and support the subtle channels of the body.
For added vata-balancing potency, use Vata Massage Oil and warm it up before applying it to your entire body. Then, settle into a steamy bath for a long, luxurious soak.
6. Reduce Screen Time
Another important way to tend to vata is by reducing excess stimulation that comes from looking at screens. When our senses are overstimulated, vata becomes disoriented within us. Rather than clarity, we experience chaos and overwhelm.
When we get off our screens and actively become aware of our sensory experience, we can slow down and really notice how it feels to be in our bodies. This, in turn, allows us to linger in moments of heightened clarity and creativity as they unfold.
In vata season, you may crave more time at home, notice yourself revisiting past curiosities with fresh eyes, or feel pulled toward new projects. When you feel this seasonal tug, don’t resist the call to ground into what nurtures and inspires you.
Lean into these energies. Nurture them and tend to them. These are the gifts of vata season presenting themselves to you, offering an opportunity for life-affirming renewal and positive change.