(adapted from my previous blog of September 2011)
All of nature dances in the play of polarity, the in-and-out breath of creation through which the primal forces of yin and yang constantly fluctuate. Nowhere is this play more evident than in the changing seasons. The Northern Hemisphere just marked Autumnal Equinox (September 22, 2014, N. America), when we begin to “fall” into Yin Time, as nature begins its turning-in cycle.
According to Ayurvedic theory, the Vata dosha begins to increase in the cooler, drier autumn season. The elements of Ether and Air predominate now (Ether + Air = Vata). We may feel more energized, creative and alert during this season, but when Vata is imbalanced, we can experience restlessness or anxiety. In fact, the need for balance is more important than ever this time of year, as stress causes the Vata dosha to shift even more out of order, and this can lead to greater stress and imbalance.
The downward shift of nature which extends from Fall Equinox to Winter Solstice signals the season of the Metal Element, according to the Five-Element system of Chinese medicine. Metal relates to the Ether Element (Akash), the fundamental source of all the other elements which flows directly from Divine Source through all of creation. According to Dr. Randolph Stone, creator of Polarity Therapy, the Ether element is “the river from which all other rivers [elements] flow.” In the fall season, nature gives us an opportunity to restore our connection with Ether, the ultimate source of power.
The essential qualities of balanced Ether are stillness and spaciousness, but when imbalanced, Ether can evoke feelings of worry or futility. The Ether element flows more freely within us when we are grounded and mindful; aligning our will with purpose; listening within; and, telling the truth to ourselves and others. The fall season is an especially appropriate time for letting go of the past and whatever it is that no longer serves our greater good. This is the most natural time of the whole year for cleaning house and getting rid of old “stuff.”
Ether is the element of space. Stepping down through the higher chakras, it streams through the throat chakra, where it activates the thyroid and parathyroid glands which govern metabolism and nervous-muscular system integration. From the throat center, Ether moves into the cerebrospinal fluid, lymphatic system and the synovial fluid of the joints. However, it is not only located in these areas. Ether is anywhere that we find space—in the ears (thus relating to hearing); all the intracellular and extracellular spaces; sinus and nasal passages; the lungs; mouth, stomach and intestines; uterus; bladder; and, kidney spaces. With so many bodily systems and networks being activated by the Ether element in the autumnal season, it is no wonder that the change of season from summer to fall has such a powerful effect on our health and well-being. This is a very sensitive time of year which requires thoughtful attention.
Holistic health treatments, herbs and supplements that address detoxifying, balancing and strengthening the affected bodily systems can be very helpful now. Dry skin brushing, colon cleansing and Abhyanga self-massage are important to help eliminate toxins. Warm foods, especially at breakfast, are also key prescriptions for the autumnal season. Singing and chanting, brisk walks and deep breathing can help to open and purify the sinuses and lungs. Yogic breathing (pranayama) and a calming, gentle yoga asana practice may be helpful (inversions and twists are especially helpful). I recommend using nasya oil in the nasal passages to clear the mind, but it is especially important to use it in this season, to clear and open the pathways of prana. One of my favorite brands can be purchased at the Ayurvedic Health Center: