Part 1 by Anne Bergeron, recent graduate
It was an unusual August. The month that typically brings a week of cool, dry winds, the classic harbingers of Autumn in Vermont, brought instead an uninterrupted string of sultry days that unfurled in waves of heat throughout the entire month.
So, when I realized in mid-August on a 93 degree day that I was bloated for the second day in a row, I had to figure out why.
If you’re like me, summer provides you with a joyous plethora of activities. Gardens to plant, tend, and harvest, hikes, swims, and social events to attend – the energy runs high and Pitta dosha can easily swing out of balance. In order to cool all the summer heat and action, I find a diet of fresh greens, legumes, seeds, berries, herb teas, and cool glasses of tulsi water to be a perfect antidote for me.
That’s what I was eating and how I was living when I shifted my attention to my bloated belly. Even though it didn’t feel like it, the season was indeed turning, and the extra digestive wind, an imbalance of Vata dosha, told me it was time to turn with it. My diet and my dinacharya – my daily rhythm – needed to be more in tune with the coming Autumn.
While I had been focused on keeping Pitta dosha more or less stable in the heat, Vata dosha, so vulnerable at the seasonal junctures was beginning to demand attention. Bloating is one clear symptom of a Vata disturbance, the dosha that corresponds to the elements of air and wind. I think of bloating as the wind that signals a storm brewing. To let it go on will dampen Agni, the fire needed for smooth, efficient digestion. I decided to try to soothe and balance Vata by kindling my digestive fire with warmth, stability, and spice.
I started by making a pot of kitchari – brown basmati rice and split yellow dahl seasoned with turmeric, cumin, and ginger. Then that night, I got myself into bed by 9:30 pm. The next morning, I extended my daily summer nasya or nose oiling routine into a full abyhanga self-massage before showering. I also paid closer attention to the quantity of mucous I was scaping off my tongue. It was more than I liked, which corroborated what my bloated belly told me – my digestive fire was weakening.
Within two days of making these changes, my belly was happy, my tongue much cleaner, and my skin less dry. Most importantly, I felt more at ease. Even though the thermometer still read 90 degrees F, I felt cooler because I had slowed down and begun to tune into this seasonal change.
Look out for Part 2 Anne’s top three rituals for Autumn seasonal change.
You can reach out to Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org