As the end of Mercury in retrograde coincides with the New Moon in Scorpio (if you believe in that sort of thing), the weather fluctuates from warm to cool in a matter of hours. Though the weather has been mild, unlike the Hurricane autumns of the last few years, the wind blowing through the tree outside my office window is cracklier than last month.
Our General Manager, Katrina, asked me recently what tips I had for natural, effective skin care during the season.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, every living thing falls into a category of one or a combination of the following three “Doshas.” The Doshas are composed of the elements of Nature: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. Our current Season is Vata Dominant, which means that the Air and Space are the dominant forces at play in Nature. A feeling of vulnerability to our environment. Wind chills us, erodes us, resists us. Grounding ourselves in all 3 states of our being (physical, mental and emotional) is essential. Ideally, we want all Doshas to be in Balance, a state we refer to as TriDosha, when Vata, Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Water and Earth) are all in balance.
Because the season will encourage our physical, mental and emotional states to tend toward a Vata imbalance, it’s important that we take steps to balance our behavior. When Vata is aggravated, we find ourselves moving rapidly. Following the languid summer period, we may have found ourselves sprinting back into action at work, running errands constantly, burning out the very last of Pitta’s long summer wick.
Finally, Vata is upon us. There will be less moisture in the air soon, so welcome the dark rains of November while they bring humidity to your breath and skin. Keep the windows open while you can while the weather is warm. Clean out your closet, your office, get rid of anything that will crowd you as you spend more time indoors. We’ll be locking ourselves up for the winter soon. Create a tranquil environment. Contribute to moist air with houseplants. Many are on sale at local garden supply stores.
A restorative yoga practice, like goodyoga’s goodrest, hot stone restorative class, will coax your concentration into submission with essential oils and thai massage. You’ll be well rested for the week ahead at either Sundays’ 5:30p or Mondays’ 9p at both studios.
Eat warm cooked foods. The local season is yielding squash, root vegetables, hearty winter greens like the oft maligned, yet ubiquitous kale.
Self care is important to ground our awareness in our bodies, rather than our daydreams. In addition to a weekly affordable massage at Pure Qi near McCarren Park, and cold pressed juice delivery from Juice Press, follow any or all of the routine below as we feather the nest for the darker days and longer nights.
It is best to rise by 6.30 each morning, before the Kapha period of morning. You’ll actually feel more energized rising at 6.30 than waiting till 10.30, the end of Kapha’s dominant period. That said, some studies suggest that the healthiest means of regulating one’s sleep is to turn in at the same time every night and allow your body to wake naturally without an alarm. Eventually, you’ll regulate and rise at the same time every day, fully refreshed after the perfect amount of sleep for you body. How long is that? See what works best for you if you have the flexibility in your morning schedule.
Write down the dream you just had, the first thought that pops in your head, whatever. Maybe it’s only a sentence. Just write something down.
Also called “oil pulling.” Take a teaspoon of coconut oil. Let it melt in your mouth as you draw through your teeth and around your mouth for the length of your shower (5 minutes?), if possible.
Brush, Floss, Scrape
Your tongue releases tons of toxins. Scrape it off gently using an Indian style scraper that can be found at your local health food store.
Your skin is your largest organ. It absorbs and releases toxins all day long. Slough off dry skin and promote circulation, paying extra attention to lymph centers and cellulitic areas. You’ll be softer and healthier.
Shower / Hydrotherapy
Keep your shower water as cool as possible to avoid dehydrating your skin.
If you can bear it, try switching quickly between hot and cold, three times each, ending on warm because we are in a cooler period of year. Helps with stress and caffeine withdrawal headaches, circulation and immune defense.
Use your coconut oil again to moisturize. You can use all over your body and face. You can use other oils, as well, but coconut is super rich for the season. If you’re skin isn’t that dry, use Jojoba oil. It’s a wax, not an oil. It’s incredibly similar to your skin’s own sebum. I put a small amount in my hands, moisturize them first and then pat and massage my face. Better to use a little too much and let sit on the skin as long as possible before dabbing the excess off with a paper towel.
5 Sun Salutations
That’s all folks! (But do take class later that day as well).
Meditate for at least one Mala
Using a mala takes your mind off time. You can simply count your breaths or repeat any phrase that provides you comfort or forces you to concentrate. That’s why Sanskrit is useful.
Slice a thumb of Ginger and steep like tea. Reuse the ginger all day. Add honey, lemon, a black peppercorn, cinnamon, cayenne and/or cardamom to spice it up.
Turn off computer and television at least one hour before bed
20 minutes of Restorative Postures
As simple as Child’s Pose or Legs Up The Wall.
Brush, floss, scrape
Write out your to do list, everything that could possibly keep you awake at night. It’ll be there waiting for you in the morning. Keep the pad by your bed. If anything pops into your mind and won’t let go, write it down. One word. Leave the light off while you do it.
Make sure the last thing you read before sleep is the Yoga Sutras or something non-narrative and comforting.
It is best to get to bed by 10pm.
Again, studies suggest that the most reliable and sensitive manner in which to regulate sleep is to go to bed at the same time every night and rise naturally without an alarm. If you feel your life does not allow for this, consider how it could.
Flannery is available for consultations, in person or virtually, regarding yoga, well living, and establishing effective goals. contact katrina@goodyoga to make an appointment.