I was driving home yesterday and was struck by the first signs of leaves changing on the trees that line the streets. It was breathtaking! Tiny yellow leaves had sprayed parked cars and larger ones could be seen rolling down the sidewalk as if out for an afternoon stroll. The sun peaked out from darker clouds that had deposited much rain in the previous hours. The smell is the air was unmistakable. Fall. My favorite season next to Summer ... and Spring.

As the temperature drops and cool breezes start to blow, know that this is the time of Vata. Vata dosha rules movement, change and transition. Its qualities are cold, light, mobile, rough, and subtle. It's most prominent during Fall and Early Winter. To balance sensitive Vata, Ayurveda teaches us to use its therapeutic opposites: warm, heavy, dense, stable, etc. (all qualities of Kapha - the Earth element - by the way). As Summer draws to a close, notice how you may start to slow down, dress more warmly and crave warm soothing foods. That's our inherent wisdom guiding us towards balance with the doshas and the seasons.

Sometimes, we fail to heed those subtle messages from deep wisdom within. When that happens, Vata accumulates and becomes aggravated. As a result, we fall out of balance. Our skin may dry out and crack, we may have constipation, have trouble sleeping and feel anxious. Remember the qualities of Vata? Now is the time that we'll start to feel those imbalances in more ways than mentioned here.

Take the time to listen to the messages, cravings and instincts. Many times we may shrug it off - but this is the deepest wisdom we know and our busy lifestyle may numb us to hearing and responding to it. Our bodies are smarter than we give it credit for. Feel tired on a particular day? Take it easy and go to bed early. Feel particularly hungry on one day? Eat whole, nutritious foods with protein, complex carbs and good fat. Our bodies tell us every day how it wants to be taken care of. All we have to do is tune in and listen.

Many of us have a tendency to go, go, go. So, we go, go, go until we have depleted ourselves by drawing from our reserves without making enough deposits (things that give us energy). Summer is an active time and we have the support of the Pitta dosha to really punch things out and enjoy doing it. Fall is a special time to begin to slow down and check in. The Vata dosha is sensitive and can make you feel overwhelmed easily. Make this transition to the cold seasons an easier one for yourself. Take warm baths at night before bed, sip warm herbal teas, dust off that rice or slow cooker and break out the cook books. I'm not saying to dive under the covers and not come out until Spring! Keep active in ways that you enjoy that aren't too exhausting. If you live where I do (MidWest/WI), there comes a time when you give in to a slower, more introspective routine eventually. You spend less time out and about. Its normal to resist it for a little bit - but you can't keep Pitta energy going unto Vata months. For one, the days get shorter and shorter! Eventually, allow this transition to change your routine in a way that makes you feel supported now and for the next several months.

One of my favorite sayings is the only constant is change (not sure who said it - or maybe its Anon). In any case, when we follow the teachings of Ayurveda and observe the seasons and the change of doshas as they come and go, we have access to a greater sense of contentment, ease and grace.

If you're in the Milwaukee area, you can sign up for Ayurvedic workshops that I lead focused on the current season and how to maintain balance. Vata is a big one - most people have Vata imbalances of some kind in our day and age. If there's one season, one dosha that you pay special attention to let it be Vata. It's known as the king of the doshas and greatly effects the other doshas (Pitta, Kapha). Go to the workshop page to check out when and where I'm teaching.