And just like that, summer has come to an end. Today marks the Fall Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, a day where the amount of light equals the amount of darkness (i.e. 12 hours each). An “equinox” is a “geometrical alignment between the sun and the Earth in which the Sun appears positioned right above our planet’s equator,” according to National Geographic. At this symbolic turning point of the seasons, we feel a shift in energy as the light changes, signaling time for symbolic and lifestyle changes as well.
As we prepare for the coming winter months, Ayurvedic theory focuses on transitioning from the summer fiery pitta months and the accumulation of heat in our bodies. Vata, the dosha governed by air, leads us into Fall, just as the leaves dry up and the wind helps them to descend from the trees.
With the accumulation of pitta from the summer months it’s important to not overload the body and thus to detox. This accumulation of toxins, or ama, can create a physical and psychological sludge that is the basis of almost all disease. According to Yoga Journal, “from a physical standpoint it creates an appealing host environment for cold and flu viruses that blow in on autumn’s winds.”
While there are many types and ranges of detoxes out there, here is a simple Ayurvedic Fall Detox to focus on for the next week as you tune in and transition:
Simple Ayurvedic Fall Detox
1. Slow down and destress. Summer is the time of energy abundance and sunshine, whereas Fall is time to reign it in, slow down, and take a deep breath. Take time to put thought and energy into your daily routine, visit the farmer’s market and stock up on seasonal foods, practice yoga, pause to meditate, take daily walks (and leave your phone at home). This will help you tune in and harbor the change in energies from pitta to vata, rather than become overly stressed by the changes.
2. Begin to switch from cool, raw foods to warm, cooked foods. The body becomes warmer as the cooler seasons approach as it works harder to digest more dense foods and provide needed insulation. Focus on eating seasonal foods, as they have naturally cleansing qualities in their harvest timing. Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP, says that, for example, “apples dissipate heat, scrub intestinal villi and act as a natural detoxifying diuretic; watermelons are diuretics, while pomegranates are liver and blood cleaners. When studying nature’s harvest carefully as Ayurveda does, it is quite clear that at the end of summer, the liver, gallbladder and intestinal tract yearn for a good cleansing.”
2. Reward your body with a Fall Equinox yoga practice. Specific yoga poses are particularly cleansing for the inner organs and can also stimulate digestion. Check out this sequence of 16 detoxifying yoga poses from Svastha Ayurveda for guidance and/or inspiration.
3. Make friends with your oils. If you aren’t already doing so, be sure to coat and massage your body daily with abhangya, or self oil massage, to stimulate the organs and digestion. (It’s preferable to use sesame oil per Ayurvedic tradition, however coconut oil or olive oil may also be suitable.) Stay in tune with your daily oil pulling and tongue scraping routine to detox your digestive system from daily accumulated toxins.