In parallel with nature, the needs of our body and mind are also changing with the seasons. The holiday feeling of summer is behind us, so we need to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for the colder part of the year. Like chasing nature's rhythm and trying to mimic its motions.
Fall, and later winter, bring cold and gloomy days when we spend less time outside. If we don't take care of ourselves, we can feel lazy and energetically blocked. On the contrary, our body needs heat, prudence, and a little more routine. Fall is marked by metal (element) and lungs (organ). Weak lungs are connected to the feeling of sadness, so give yourself a little bit more warmth. The pace of life rises after summer with the end of holidays and the beginning of a new school year and therefore we must strengthen our bodies even more.
In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, there are certain rituals that particularly belong to fall because we need to strengthen the immune system during this period.
Warm food in every sense. Due to the falling temperatures outside, we need to bring some heat into the body, so let's eat warm, properly seasoned, and easily digestible meals. Add tubercle vegetables to soups, casseroles, and other dishes so we can feel full, warm, and grounded. Add spices that help keep our bodies warm (cayenne pepper, ginger, turmeric...) to the menu. Avoid dairy products, cereals, and sweets because they cause inflammation in our bodies and burden our immune system.
Massage yourself before your morning exercise and shower. Take a few minutes to massage your body with natural oils (sesame, almond...). Sesame oil is of particular importance in skin detoxification and has a warming effect. With the use of oils, we will keep our skin glowing and soft all year round. When we are oiled, a warm shower won't dry our skin. Apart from that, self-massage is also a part of bonding with your own body and it relaxes the muscles. With self-massage, we treat ourselves early in the morning, we connect and stimulate circulation which slows down during the colder days.
Jal neti is an Ayurvedic technique for purifying the nostrils and nasal mucosa while ensuring mental awakening. This technique uses water to purify and clean the nasal path by pouring saltwater through one nostril in and the other nostril out. We are bent over the sink and our head is turned 90 degrees. This old purification technique is particularly welcome in these times because it flushes potential pathogens out of the nasal cavities.
Inhaling warm steam clears the mucous membranes of the lungs and sinuses. In a large pot, we boil a little bit of water with some thyme and ginger. When the brew cools down, we place our head above the pot, cover ourselves with a towel, and breathe in the steam for at least a few minutes. The procedure should be pleasant, so we need to make sure that the brew is sufficiently cooled.
Moxing warms up the body, removes unnecessary mucus, and thereby strengthens the body. It is recommended to heat the belly button area, third eye/ear cavity area, or chest/back between the shoulder blades. We can practice moxing every day.
Pranayama, the Yogi principle of breathing control, releases the rigidity of irregular breathing. Pranayama has several breathing techniques that can be used during meditation or yoga. Rigid, shallow breathing in the upper lung indicates that our body is under stress. That's why pranayama or other breathing techniques calm us down and strengthen our immune system. For any other physical activity, we must warm up. After the practice, and if we have the opportunity, we warm up in an infrared sauna.
Quality sleep and routine are crucial for a good immune system. We must be asleep from 9 pm to 11 pm at the latest. It's the only way to successfully detox and regenerate during the night. The addition of Ashwagandha can become part of our routine in the fall, as it strengthens the immune system and helps you sleep well. The proper routine doesn't limit our spontaneity, it only empowers us with a sense of security. A part of this routine can be a brief daily record (journal) or just meditation, self-massage, neti, moxa, etc.
Fall is the time to let go of everything that served its purpose. Just like a tree sheds its leaves in order to replace them with new ones. These may be old beliefs or just old clothes that we no longer need. Now is a good time to organize your home, schedule, or menu. Energy turned outward in spring and summer is now turning inward, back to itself, its roots, and mindfulness.