Have Healthy Kids all VATA season long!
The Fall is well upon us! With it’s chilly temperatures, stirred up dust, dryness and early darkness, our kids may be susceptible to a case of the sneezes, more stirred up energy and agitated sleep. Since every person has a different reaction to weather and environmental changes, the seasons are a great way to explore exactly how the elements affect our bodies and minds.
For those new to the dietary science of Ayurveda, here’s a quick review from our last Healthy Kids blog,” SUMMER WAYS TO BEAT THE HEAT”
“…Ayurveda- a Sanskrit word meaning, “knowledge of life” – is a 5,000 year old Science that looks at our bodies in relation to all things: our genetics, our environments, the season, and even the planets. For a wonderful Introduction to Ayurveda, check out Yoga Journal’s article.
According to the Yogic philosophy that inspires Ayurveda, we are all made up of the five elements and their differing relationships in each individual’s body and mind. You may be scratching your head… did she say FIVE elements? Yes. And I’m not calling in Bruce Willis to prove it. Even as kids, we can rattle off the basic four: EARTH, AIR, FIRE, WATER… And, while I hear all you Captain Planet fans out there screaming “HEART!” I’ll have to let you down. In Ayurveda, the Fifth Element is SPACE- that in which all the other elements arise and with which they are held together. But don’t let the mind turn to knots yet.
As I advise all my students, the only way to form a belief in something is to test it- try it on for size, and see if it fits your world in a way that helps keep you healthy and happy. “
VATA Season runs through Fall and into early Winter (approx. late September through late January/ early February), and as Ayurveda proposes- every body will have a different experience of how the season affects his or her body and mind.
What does VATA mean?
Ayurveda interprets the elements into three specific manifestations or “Doshas” : VATA (combination of wind and water); KAPHA (combination of earth and water) and PITTA (Fire). Each person has it’s genetic pre-disposition to hold one of these doshas primarily. Since Ayurveda looks beyond just the physical experience of the body, these doshas also have a profound impact on one’s mind, personality, and relationship to the environment. It’s important to note that though you may hold one dosha primarily in your body, you MAY relate to a different dosha in the quality of your mind.
The desired result of recognizing and understanding our Dosha (and the qualities of the world around us) is to gain the ability and skill to find balance of all THREE dosha elements on any given day or even in the moment! If we begin to understand the feelings of being imbalanced, we may be able to more quickly medicate with the right tool and the right time. As we get more skilled in balancing ourselves, the natural result is that we will be better able to recognize what our kids and students needs and may adjust accordingly.
So, Let’s take a look at VATA in the Body!
Classically, those with a primary dosha of VATA tend toward a lighter build, dryer skin and hair, minimal appetite, a tendency to lose weight easily, and a general coldness. But, don’t be fooled by one attribute- it’s best to take all considerations together to see why these qualities may hold true. Usually, if one is primarily VATA they feel nurtured by heat and moisture, they may gravitate toward vegetarianism or light airy foods, and forget to eat all together.
Even if this is not our primary dosha, notice if some of these qualities may take over at all during this time of year.
This is my go-to antidote! Everyone will find their perfect preference for how to incorporate oils into their bodies. I’m partial to coconut oil (in fact, I usually keep a jar in my car or bag for emergencies). Coconut oil is antibacterial, anti fungal, and anti viral. An AWESOME standby for a Fall prevalent in viruses and flus.
* Take it by the spoonful orally (if you can stomach it) for a quick dose of one of the healthiest fats around. It’s a great appetite suppressant and also can aid digestion.
* Rub on your skin like lotion- it’s a fast soother
* Cook with it! Not only will it bring back memories of tropical summer days, it is one of the only oils that can be heated without turning into the infamous trans-fat.
Other oils I love: HEMP, BLACK SESAME, SESAME, RASPBERRY, and NEEM. Try a few and see what feels good.
2. Warm Foods/ Liquids
They are called Comfort Foods for a reason. When temperatures drop and skin thins to dryness, we can keep our insides healthy by taking in the right foods and liquids. Favor some spiciness, root vegetables, little sugar, and higher temperatures. Salad just ain’t gonna cut it for comfort- try steamed veggies and soups to build the body’s eat and hydration.
3. Baths/ Body Brushing
I take baths year round… but they feel especially cleansing during this season. Add epsom salts and essential oils for extra luxury, and follow your bath with a brisk body brush to remove any dry skin and improve circulation.
Get a humidifier!!! Nothing combats dry outer air, and dryness from indoor heat like a humidifier. It will save your sinuses and skin, and keep your immune system healthy. *Make sure to clean and change the water frequently!
Go to bed consistently and wake up consistently. If you have trouble, try some natural bed time remedies like warm almond milk with cinnamon, limit tv and screen exposure an hour or two before lights out, and in a pinch try a bit of melatonin or passionfruit extract.
Often implementing some of these physical Vata balancers may influence and adjust Vata in the mind as well…
What characterizes a Vata mind?
We’ve all hear the term “airhead”… but that is a bit derogatory, and specifically refers to an out of balance Vata mind- flighty, all over the place, and difficult to hold in a conversation. If this sounds like MOST KIDS- you’re on to something. Kids tend to have a lot more VATA then grownups… and usually we see it most in their fast moving mins and short attention spans.
How You may experience Vata in your mind could look similar, but Vata also has beautiful in- balance qualities: Expansiveness, Imagination, Quickness in thought and speech. This leads to a social, creative, and action filled time… as long as we can keep it in check. When we go out of balance, vats may cause anxiety, restlessness, lack of sleep and worries.
You don’t have to sit for long if this isn’t a consistent practice for you already. But, starting with five minutes a day can work wonders. If you’re skeptical check out this FLY meditation- so easy, even kids can do it! For more advanced meditations keep in tune with our blog and newsletter, and check out local classes that welcome beginners.
Just like getting adequate sleep will ease a Vata body, keeping to a disciplined routine will ease the Vata mind. Even if you have a more inconsistent lifestyle. Give your mind it’s meals and rest times at the same time every day. Hold consistently to a schedule and you’ll have MORE creativity, initiative, and ability to finish all your amazing Fall projects.
3. Fragrances/ Colors
Surround yourself with nourishing fragrances and light, neutral colors. For the nose: sage, lavender, patchouli and vetiver. For the eye: pastels and earth tones.
Listen to relaxing and beautiful music. There will be a time to party again, but it’s unbelievably helpful to give your ear and mind soothing and positive vibrations. My favorites of the season have been: East Forest, Patrick O’Hearn and Helios. Comment below with your personal suggestions!
5. Yin Yoga
Not quite guided sleep, not quite a sweat fest… Yin is a fantastic way of grounding the mind while the body continues to buzz, stretch, and heat. Supported poses are held for 3-5 minutes each, and can work magic for flexibility in both the mind and body. Gift yourself and hour, and even bring your kids along for the ride… Video coming soon to FLY TV!
Speaking of incorporating your kids… here are some quick tips for our little FLYers who are already guided by the Vata energy all year long!
HEALTHY KIDS REMINDERS AND REMEDIES!!!
Limit Sugar Intake
Ok. Halloween has ended. Holiday sweets are coming. Clean them out now! Just like we as adults love to cleanse, you can get your kids to do it too with little fuss and fight. Switch them over to natural sugars, teach them how to make their own candy with raw chocolate and coconut butter, and favor juicy fruits over dried fruits (it’s already dry, and our bodies will have trouble re-hydrating raisins or dried mango for digestion).
Bounce it Out
Any time their getting coo-coo bananas, ask them to physicalize it! Dance, shake, bounce, run, and wiggle… five minutes without stopping. Then try the conversation again 😉
Help them Focus
Focus during Vata season is more difficult then EVER for kids! Often, they have a bigger course load, more activities and lots of social time with friends as school begins. Help them focus by giving them a sound, an exercise, or a “mindful moment” to bring them back to the task at hand when they are wandering.
Screen Time Breather
If your child is particularly susceptible to Vata mind, ease off the TV/ iPad/ Computer time. I know it may be a fight, but it will be SO WORTH IT. Instead of giving their eyes more fast movements to follow and their brains a faster tempo to process, slow it down with drawing, looking at a book, taking a walk outside, or building. Rapid eye movements lead to extremely unsettled sleep, nightmares, and general agitation throughout the day. We have many more ideas for keeping screens at bay… stay tuned.
WHEW… So many suggestions!!! Try them out and tell us what works for You 🙂
Remember, the benefit to balancing our VATA dosha while in the Vata season, is that we have more access and capability to BENEFIT from the Autumn’s fast pace, creative inspiration, and social nature. When we are in balance, we can better serve, inspire, befriend, and create goodness in our worlds.