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Autumn: Living According to The Seasons

Living with the seasons according to ayurveda and Chinese medicine

In the practices of Chinese, Tibetan, and Ayurvedic medicine, the key to health maintenance and longevity lies in harmonizing our lifestyle and diet with the natural cycles of the seasons and tailoring our diet and lifestyle to one’s individual constitution. These Eastern traditions teach us to view our personal constitution as a microcosm that reflects the macrocosm of the universe, emphasizing a connection between our inner being and the external world. All three main medical traditions of the east base their constitutions on the five elements.

Unique Synthesis of Ancient Wisdom

  • Tibetan Medicine: A unique synthesis of Tibetan Bon, Ayurvedic, and Chinese traditions, theorizing the cosmos and individuals are composed of five essential elements: Space, Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth. The three main humros Wind (Loonge), Fire (Tripa) and Earth+Water (Beykan). These elements and constitutions are the same as in Ayurveda just with different names.
  • Ayurvedic Constitutions: Same as Tibetan medicine with the five elements Space, Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth. The three doshas are Wind (Vata), Fire (Pita), and Earth+Water (Kapha).
  • Chinese Medicine Constitutions: The five elements are Wood (wind), Fire, Earth, Metal (space), and Water, along with the foundational concepts of Yin, Yang, and Qi.

This understanding forms the backbone of diagnosis and treatment in these medical traditions and offers us a framework for lifestyle choices that promote balance, vitality, and harmony.

Constitution Quiz

Constitution quiz according to the five elements, doshas and humors

Eastern Medicine Constitution Quiz: According to Autumn

Eastern medicine  Constitution Quiz: This quiz is designed to help you understand your unique constitution and identify your dominant elements or doshas in Ayurveda. In Ayurveda and Tibetan medicine there are 7 constitution types. 1 Vata, 2 Pita, 3 Kapha, 4 Vata/Pita, 5 Vata/Kapha, 6 Pita/Kapha,  7 Vata/Kahpa/Pita.

 

The results will show your predominant element (Dosha) and the percentage of each of the of the elements that form your constitution within ayurveda in relation to the body and mind.

1 / 15

MY BODY TYPE WOULD BE DESCRIBED AS:

2 / 15

DO YOU FIND IT:

3 / 15

MY SKIN IS DESCRIBED AS:

4 / 15

MY BODY TEMPERATURE IS:

5 / 15

MY APPETITE IS:

6 / 15

MY DIGESTION IS:

7 / 15

MY COMMUNICATION STYLE IS:

8 / 15

PERSONALITY:

9 / 15

MY MEMORY IS BEST DESCRIBED AS:

10 / 15

MY ABILITY TO ADAPT TO CHANGE IS:

11 / 15

MY ENERGY LEVELS ARE:

12 / 15

MY SLEEP QUALITY IS BEST DESCRIBED AS:

13 / 15

WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO STRESS?

14 / 15

WHEN FEELING EMOTIONAL BALANCED I FEEL:

15 / 15

HOW DO YOU APPROACH FRIENDSHIPS?

Autumn and Its Effects on the Elements

  • Seasonal Transition: From the heat and energy of summer  to the cooler, drier, windier autumn. This is a time when the wind element (vata) can get out of balance easily, especially in people with wind (vata) in their constitution.
  • Metal Element – Lung and Large Intestine Health: In Chinese medicine, autumn is closely associated with the Metal element, which governs the lungs and large intestine. This season emphasizes the importance of respiratory and digestive health. The emotion of grief and the ability to let go of what is not serving you.

Common Imbalances of the Elements

  • Wind Element: Mental problems such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, skin dryness and digestive issues that are changeable in nature for example IBS with is related to the emotions.
  • Fire Element: Excess heat signs like anger, irritability, inflammation, and skin conditions.
  • Earth + Water: Symptoms such as heaviness, lethargy, and fluid retention, depression and excessive weight.

Autumn on Different Constitutions

The effects vary widely across different constitutions, acting as medicine for some and harmful for others. Autumn tends to mostly affect those with wind (vata) and fire (pitta) constitutions and can benefit earth & water (kapha) constitutions.

General Diet Tips for Autumn

Incorporating dietary and lifestyle adjustments tailored to the changing seasons can enhance our well-being.

Nourishing the Body and Energy

  • Warmth: Slowly start incorporating  warmer foods. Like soups, stews, and teas with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Oiliness: Incorporating healthy fats like ghee, sesame, sunflower, or olive oil.
  • Deep Nourishment: Root vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

Ideal Foods for Autumn

  • Fruits: Cooked apples, avocados, bananas, dates, figs, and citrus fruits.
  • Vegetables: Root vegetables like sweet potato, beetroot, and squash.
  • Grains: Amaranth, basmati and brown rice, oats, quinoa.
  • Dairy: Butter, cheese, ghee, kefir, and yogurt.
  • Animal Products: Beef, chicken, eggs, and seafood like salmon.
  • Oils: Ghee, olive, peanut, and sesame, sunflower oils.
  • Sweeteners and Spices: Raw honey, jaggery, maple syrup, and warming spices.
  • Spices: Nutmeg, turmeric, cardamon, cummin, clove, garlic. ginger

Foods to Limit in Autumn

  • Reduce intake of cold drinks, coffee, green tea, and raw vegetables, raw salads, green smoothies, frozen foods like ice cream.
  • Minimize light, cooling, and drying foods like, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, raw leafy greens, popcorn, crackers and millet.
Diet and lifestyle tips for Autumn according to Ayurveda and Chinese medicine.

Lifestyle Tips

Regularity

  •  Establish a good routine. Add something beneficial to your routine like morning yoga, meditation or exercise.
  • Get plenty of sleep, if you have insomnia  or sleeping issues this is a sign the wind element is out of balance.
  • Try to have a regular diet and meal times 

Self Massage

  • Autumn is a good time to do self massage with oil. For wind (vata) constitutions sesame oil it is good it can be used alone or combined with herbs. You can make you your own herbal medicine massage oils.  For Vata you can add a few drops nutmeg essential oil, or soak 10g of nutmeg to 100g of sesame oil. Soak in a jar for 1 month filter herbs from the oils then use.
  • Fire (pita) constitutions need a cooler oil sesame oil is warming in nature. For pitta use sunflower oil it is neutral or coconut oil it is cooling.
  • Earth + Water (kahpa) constitutions should not use oil. 

Yoga & Meditation

  • Yoga and meditation are perfect for balancing all constitutions, when done correctly. If done incorrectly in can not only cause injuries but unbalance the elements and constitution. 
  • Wind (vata) and Fire (pitta) constitutions: Practices that will calm and ground the energy, like yin yoga, restorative yoga, yantra yoga the Tibetan yoga of movement, hatha yoga without fast strong breathing practices. 
  • Earth & Water (Kapha) constitutions: Practices that have movement like hatha yoga sun salutations,  yantra yoga the Tibetan yoga of movement.

Nature

  • Engage in activities that connect with nature. The five elements in nature can be used to balance the five elements of the individual.
  • If wind (vata) is unbalance connect to the earth element. For example do some gardening and get yor hand dirty or go for a walk in nature.
  • If the fire (pita) element is out of balance connect with water. Go swimming, surfing, any activities connected with the water. But be careful about the sun.
  • If the earth+water (kapha) element is out of balance connect with the wind and fire element for example going for a walk on a sunny windy day.

Breathing

  • Incorporate good complete breathing into daily life, is one of the best things to for health and wellbeing is free and easy to do.

Therapies

  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is excellent for balancing the energy of all constitutions. It is especially good for any wind (vata) imbalance like insomnia, stress, anxiety and irritability.
  • Tuina massage: Tuina massage or ayurvedic massage are good because they take your constitution into account it is not a one size fits all approach. 
  • Herbal Medicine: Traditional herbal medicine from Tibetan, Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine are good.

Conclusion

By understanding our individual constitution and tailoring our diet and lifestyle practices during autumn, we can support our body’s natural balance, vitality, and health. Should you wish to look deeper into personalizing your wellness journey or if you’re seeking advice on applying these ancient principles more dynamically in your life, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For those who would like to explore a hands-on approach to harmonizing with the autumn season, I’m excited to invite you to a workshop in Auckland on the 13th of April. This session will blend the practice of yin yoga with the restorative power of acupuncture, specifically designed to align your energy with the autumnal shift. To discover more about this unique opportunity to enhance your health and well-being this autumn click here.

Best wishes for a harmonious autumn,

Dean

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Dean Wickenden

Dean Wickenden

Dean, holding a Bachelor of Health Science, is registered in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Tuina Massage with the Chinese Medicine Council of New Zealand. With over 20 years of experience in yoga, he has earned a 1200-hour diploma in yoga and is a certified instructor of Yantra Yoga and the Tibetan Yoga of Movement.

Committed to natural health and healing, Dean takes a holistic approach in his practice, incorporating a wide range of therapeutic methods. His offerings include acupuncture, massage, dietary advice, myofascial release, herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping, qigong, yoga, and meditation. He practices from his clinic in Auckland, New Zealand, dedicated to providing comprehensive care tailored to the individual needs of his clients