The Yoga of Food: Eating for Autumn

autumn soup
Photo by anastasia son

While it’s easy to see the leaves changing colors and falling off the trees—it is much more difficult to notice how the short, cool and windy days of Autumn affect our overall sense of well-being. Both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, yoga’s sister healing science, emphasize the need to live in harmony with the nature of each season. To achieve this harmony they both employ a very simple principle: opposites create balance.

The food we eat can have a powerful effect on our prana (life-force energy) which in turn influences our internal harmony and overall state of health. By making simple changes  to our diets to apply the awareness of the aforementioned principle, we can balance the energy of Autumn’s cooler temperatures, it’s dry and windy air, and it’s erratic and unpredictable weather patterns.

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To balance the cooler temperatures of Autumn add more warming foods and stimulating spices like garlic, fresh ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric to your diet. Minimize cooling foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, seaweed, cucumber, and cabbage. Try to have all of your meals served warm or hot and avoid cold or frozen foods such as smoothies and ice cream. Reduce your consumption of raw vegetables and minimize foods with a bitter, pungent or astringent taste.

To balance the dry and windy air of Autumn add more oily and nourishing foods to your diet. Avoid drying foods such as popcorn, crackers, millet, and dried fruit. Shift to consuming more slow cooked meals and garnish your food generously with ghee or oil. Eating steamed vegetables, whole grains, soups, porridges, kitcharis and stews will be hydrating and moisturizing.

To balance the erratic and unpredictable nature of Autumn add more grounding foods that are high in protein and high in fat (nuts, seeds, cheese, eggs) to your diet. Try preparing meals with more simple recipes (with less ingredients and simpler preparation) and focus on cooking your food with love, gratitude, patience and attention. Having a regular schedule with your mealtimes will also be helpful.

All of the above is general advice and should only be considered as a starting point for changing your diet for the fall season. Experiment and make adjustments based on your individual constitution, local seasonal foods and the specific weather conditions where you live. Most importantly, pay attention to how the weather and the food you eat affects your prana, digestion, and overall sense of health and well-being.

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