On September 22, summer will officially come to a close and autumn will begin. You may have already noticed a change in the light and/or a new, slight chill in the air. This is an important time for our health and wellbeing.
In Ayurveda, the time around the changing of seasons is called ritu sandhi, and it happens three times a year (in North America)--between summer and fall, between late fall and early winter, and between late winter and spring.
Why is this important? Because it is at these times of year that our immunity is at its lowest. If we are not prepared, we can easily find ourselves among those who get sick. The key shifts are between late winter and spring and between summer and autumn (now). If you think about it, when do many colds and flus occur? Yup, you got it.
So how do we prepare for this time in order to avoid illness? Here are five suggestions:
1. Follow the season. Start shifting between the natural foods of the previous season to the foods that are becoming available in the new season. Go to a local farmer's market if you need help. The produce will follow what's naturally occurring in nature.
2. Shift the qualities of your food. Start increasing the qualities of foods for the new season and decreasing the qualities of the previous season. For example, in the transition from summer to fall, we should start eating foods that are warmer and slightly heavier and cut down on the cooling, super light foods of summer.
3. Nurture your digestion. Eat food that is easily-digestible. Digestion is more sluggish during the season changes, so we want to make sure that we don't tax it further. Remember, good digestion is key to health, and when it is off, we can find ourselves feeling ill. Pay special attention to the basic Ayurvedic food principles.
4. Give yourself a little break. Consider doing a food cleanse and/or give up things like alcohol, sugar, and snacks. This, too, will help give the digestive system a break and rid the body of unnecessary toxins gathered from the previous season.
5. Maintain a routine. Stick to daily routines that can anchor you during the transitioning seasons. This can help alleviate the stress and anxiety that can arise with natural shifts, and minimizing stress always improves immunity. Meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), yoga or exercise, and abyangha (self-massage) can be key to these routines.
Of course, our individual dosha (constitution) can help us further fine-tune our path of transition between the seasons, but the above are general suggestions that can benefit everyone. Give them a try and see what a difference they can make!