All suffering exists in the mind. No matter what happens to you, no matter how terrible, there can be peace. You are not your trauma, your circumstance. You are that unchanging light of consciousness - Todd Perelmuter


We are on the cusp of transitioning from Summer to Autumn and you may have noticed the leaves starting to fall from the trees, the crisper air, the shorter days. This is not to start to feel sad for the loss of Summer but to
embrace the cyclical change of the seasons.

There is much to relish and cherish. The abundance of fruits and harvest, the feeling of a “new term” providing fresh opportunity to establish new positive habits and routines or start something brand new.

From the Ayurveda wisdom of aligning with the cyclical changes of the seasons, what you may have noticed is how your body and mind starts to adjust. This is the time of sniffles and colds, perhaps a feeling of being a “bit under the weather”.

If you find yourself in this position, take time out to rest, nourish yourself with wholesome meals, hydrate with warm water, as we start to move towards a more Vata diet. This means eating seasonally, eating fruits and vegetables that are being harvested and starting to cook warming, grounding and nourishing foods that will start to prepare us for the colder climate of the coming Winter. Mother Nature knows to provide the nutrition that we need at the right time.

Vata Dosha is made of the element of air and ether. The qualities that characterise Vata are cold, dry, light, mobile and rough and these are the qualities we are starting to see as we move into Autumn. The cooler air in
the mornings and evenings, the drying rough textures of the leaves as they fall from the trees, the quick changing nature of the weather. Vata governs the nervous system and if these qualities start to increase, our stress levels rise.

We know that this has risen exponentially during Covid and in the aftermath of lockdowns and restrictions. Our nervous systems have taken a battering as we assimilate and process our collective trauma and fear from Covid, we are now experiencing the fall-out. And if it isn’t Covid that has us worried, it is now the rising cost of living and energy bills that is impacting our quality of life.

We live in a fast-paced world where our nervous systems are predominantly operating in “Flight, Flight, Freeze” mode. This is not sustainable long-term and we have seen a rise in anxiety, panic attacks, depression, fatigue and “burn out” and more chronic diseases. It’s time to turn to time-tested and scientifically backed ways that calm and relax our Nervous Systems and mitigate the amount of chronic stress that there is.

Ayurveda & Yoga to soothe Mind, Body & Soul

Ayurveda and Yoga practices have much to offer. From Ayurveda we have Ayurvedic rituals or health giving routines such as Abyhanga (daily self-massage with herbal oils), to attend to the lymphatic system, keep the
mind contented and calm and boost immune cells. The simple practice of Pranayama, can easily shift us from a stressful resonant frequency to one of peace and calm. It doesn’t require anything more than inclination and
some undisturbed space and time. Try this breathing pranayama for yourself.

Ratio Breathing Pranayama 4:1:6 Exercise

Sit or lie down comfortably and be still. Start to breathe slowly, placing one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly to connect to the rise and fall of the breath.

Now start to breathe in for an internal count of 4, 3, 2, 1 – pause – exhale for 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Continue for a few rounds Inhaling for a count of 4, pausing and exhaling for a count of 6. Once you have completed 5+ rounds, release the count and let the breath find its own natural rhythm.

Pay attention to the feeling and quality of your breath, noticing the effects of the pranayama.

It has been shown that when we lengthen the exhalation in comparison to the inhalation, our nervous system makes a shift from sympathetic nervous system mode we associate with “Fight, Flight, Freeze” alertness, to the more relaxed parasympathetic nervous system mode, known as “Rest and Digest”.

We are able to affect the autonomic process through the control of our breathing rate, which has an immediate effect on heart rate and brain-wave activity.

Ayurveda takes a multi-faceted, well rounded approach to balancing health and wellbeing and another tool to call upon, is the healing power of herbs. Warming herbs such as Turmeric, Cinnamon, Ginger and Cardamom are culinary herbs with medicinal properties. They have anti inflammatory, decongesting properties and are powerful immune and digestive system stimulants.

Ashwagandha Tonic Herb

There is also perhaps a lesser-known herb that would be a great addition to your herbal kitchen or medicine chest: Ashwagandha.

Grown in India, Sri Lanka, Middle East and parts of Africa, this is the herb supreme, to balance high and low Vata levels of anxiety and stress and I have seen it work with clients to stop panic attacks.

Known as a Rasanyana, in Ayurveda it literally means “path of essence”, and refers to practices and compounds that increase longevity and invigorate the body. Eg. A practice that has been scientifically proven to increase longevity, is meditation, this is also a Rasanyana.

Ashwagandha is an exceptional NS tonic that is indicated for use when there is, anxiety, stress, depression, over-work, panic attacks, nervous exhaustion, insomnia, ruminations, fear, tension, neurosis, excessive
thinking, hyperactivity and ADHD.

An incredible rejuvenate, it supports and restores the body when there are any signs of exhaustion, fatigue, after long illness, convalescence, post-viral fatigue, and as a short term pick-me-up for whenever you may be feeling tired, exhausted or emotionally overwhelmed.

You may be looking at the indications for use and be thinking that we all ought to be taking this herb!

There is an Ashwagandha Chai Tonic Tea that helps to prepare for and promote a good night’s sleep. Make this “Ojas” (vitality) drink half an hour before bed. See how to make below.

Ashwagandha Chai Tonic Recipe                        

Add the following ingredients to one cup of full fat (ideally non-homogenized) milk (or a non-dairy milk equivalent) and blend in a food blender or NutriBullet until liquidised.

  • Finely chopped dates (1 tbsp)
  • Finely chopped almonds (2 tsp)
  • Coconut oil or flakes (1 tsp)
  • Ghee (1 tsp)
  • Cardamom (1/8 tsp)

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to the boil and then simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour into a cup. Add 1-2tsps of Ashwagandha powder and 1 tsp of raw honey.

Drink one cup each evening ideally for 4-6 weeks to boost strength, immunity, resistance and energy.

Powdered Ashwagandha can also be added into porridge, pancake mixes and smoothies.

We will be covering this herb in my next Ayurveda and yoga Workshop on Saturday 24th September as well as ways to relax and soothe the Nervous System and Pacify Vata.

In the workshop we will explore:

  • Warming herbs and spices that soothe and calm the nervous system
  • Types of foods, herbal supplements to pacify Vata and increase Ojas (Vitality)
  • Pranayama infused Restorative Yoga Practice to pacify and reduce Vata
  • Sound bath with Crystal Singing bowls shifting frequencies to a peaceful state of being.

The aim of the workshop is that you will come away feeling empowered to use Ayurvedic healing tools to enhance your health and wellbeing. This is a workshop that takes care of mind, body and spirit. The workshop will leave you feeling nourished, nurtured, peaceful and serene.

All participants will receive gifts of calming herbal tea and a soothing nervous system essential oil blend to take home and notes from the workshop.