‘Autumn is here! Hurrah! That means tea, fuzzy sweaters, walking around in socks, broths, wind and rain… can you tell I’m a little excited?! As a pitta person I almost always overheat in summer, and fall just feels like a breath of fresh air.
All that wind means in Ayurveda fall or autumn is considered vata season, which = either the space for expansive creativity, or frazzled anxiety and dryness. See, it’s normal to suddenly feel crazy. Not healthy, but expected.
Autumn is the time to amp up your self care routine, and as always, the things that feel intuitively good are usually the best things for you. (Like the last week I’ve been craving nothing but broths with extra butter and eggs.)
And what feels good to combat that dryness? Anything sleek and unctious, luxurious… like oil and healthy fats. Lots of oil. Lather in it, bathe in it, inhale it, ingest it. Avocado toast with ghee/butter all the days.
Clearly Im exaggerating a bit here, but it is hard to OD on oil in this season unless you’re reeeaallly going for it.
Abhyanga is a tradition of rubbing yourself in oil and is a great daily habit to build up. Particularly now is the time when it feels especially good.
It doesnt need to take long, it’s the quality of your intention, to nourish and care for yourself in a wholesome way. It’s a small moment of attention that feeds your whole body-mind. You’re literally lubricating your immune system, which needs all the help it can get right now. Pay extra attention to the places you tend to forget (or ignore) – theyll tend to be dryest first and need the most lost. Think hips, thighs,, buttocks, back of the neck and shoulders, joints.
If you want to, you can make it a full practice of luxurious pampering where you heat up the oil too. (To do this, you can get special oil-heaters, but you can also just have a cup of almost-boiled water and leave your bottle in there for a bit.)
Have fun with it.
I just realised today that I have a slightly ridiculous collection of oils – but I use all of them! They spark joy, promise. And I use them all for different purposes.
You’ll see that:
1- Not all my oils are in their original bottles. I try to buy organic, raw, cold pressed oils wherever possible, and sometimes the bottles htey come in are rather bulky and in glass. That, and I don’t really want to look at the packaging label all the time, so I’ll decant the oils into a smaller container that not only feels more managable but I like the minimalist aesthetic (yeah, I went there.)
2 – Not all my oils are all super organic natural things that you could eat. There’s a saying that#s rather popular in ayurvedic circles – don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. While I agree with this, in theory, I give and take.
What I say to this is – the beauty of ayurveda is to do what you can. Although there are long lists of exact routines to follow and Strict Rules of How Thou Must Live to Be Healthy, nobody needs that kind of pressure (unless you know deep down that you work best with that kind of pressure). If you have a tendency to stress yourself out about the Shoulds and the Musts, see the ayurvedic guidelines as exactly that – guidelines. Take what you can from them – a little healthy habit here, ad healthy habit there, and over time you’ll crave more and more that comes from this place of intuitive wisdom. Then when youre ready, you know you can turn to the guidelines.
So, the oils:
Straight up oil of one type. Your most natural.
Coconut oil – cooling, drying. This is an excellent whole-body lotion-replacement in summer, thought not so much in Autumn. It;s more recommended to reserve it for the beauty purposes it has become known for, like hair masks or makeup removal. For the face, it is comedogenic, which means if you#re acne prone it may aggravate that.
Sesame oil – warming. This is my favourite in vata season and I use it as much as possible (except on the skin on my face). It does, however, take a wee while to absorb, so I prefer to use it in the evening when I change into my house clothes rather than get it over my work wear. I will put a drop in each ear and each nostril before going to bed, and rub my feet in it and put on some snuggly socks.
Almond oil – Another great oil to pacify vata, with its sweet and oilyness. This is my preferred oil to make steeped herbal preparations, traditionally used as a massage oil. I like creating small batches of dried lavender steeped into almond oil to use as an extra resource when I know my reserves will be running low.
Jojoba oil – Skincare godsend! I use this as an evening moisturiser. Also nice in small doses because it’s so bloody expensive.
More processed, and I use them for vanity and convenience. And that’s ok. ‘Cause I like them and tehy make me feel good. Isn’t that the point?
Body Shop Silky Chamomile Cleansing Oil – this is what I use to take my makeup off at the end of the day as part of a double cleansing routine. You could use coconut oil, but I like this better. I#m no skincare expert, but Caroline Hirons is and shes got a master post on double cleansing here if you are curious. Every woman I’ve given this to, from age 25 – 65, has loved this. There’s also a balm version, but we’re on the topic of oils and this fits right in.
Therme Hamam dry body oil – This I use in the morning after my shower when I’m on the way to work. The difference between a normal oil and a dry oiil is that a dry oil has some silicone added to it to help it absorb into the skin faster and leave a smooth, rather than oily feeling. This is a new try for me, and whilst I hadn’t expected the cedar smell and thought it would absorb faster, I think I was expecting some sort of magic vanishing act or something. Quite happy with it, but see if you like the smell.
See if you can find a small way to incorporate a wee bit more of the luxuriousness of oil into your self care. How does it feel?
Do you have favourite oils that I have yet to discover?