Back to school is always an exciting time of year. For most of us, it’s a time of transition in our daily rhythm and routine as well as a change in the weather. If you live in the northern hemisphere, autumn is the season of vata dosha. Ayurveda’s philosophy teaches that the five elements form three vital energies or doshas.
Vata dosha is made of up air and space elements. The qualities of vata are cold, light, dry, subtle, airy, mobile, sharp, flowing, hard, rough and clear.
Pitta dosha is made up of primarily fire and with some water element. The qualities of pitta are hot, wet, sharp, light, subtle, flowing, hard, smooth, mobile and clear.
Kapha dosha is made up of earth and water elements. The qualities of kapha are cold, heavy, wet, gross, dense, static, dull, soft, smooth and cloudy.
Each one of us were born with a unique combination of these three doshas, but the doshas also influence us depending on the time of day, season or stage of life we’re in.
Children are in the kapha stage of life. This means that they especially thrive on stability and routine. For all of us, living in a daily alignment with the energies of the doshas helps to keep vata in check. Vata dosha is the most mobile of the doshas. It’s the easiest to fall out of balance and the easiest to bring back. Children are even more susceptible to this natural flow.
Knowing that kapha dosha naturally prefers following a daily rhythm and that vata dosha stays in balance with one, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind during this season of transition.
- Set and keep a consistent bedtime. Children need 9-12 hours of sleep at night.
- Allow at least two hours between dinner and bedtime for optimal digestion. This may mean gradually transitioning to an earlier dinner time.
- For older children, encourage them to wake up at the same time every day. Making up for lost sleep on the weekends disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm.
- Talk to your teens about the benefits of being asleep before 10 PM. Our bodies process everything from what we ate to our emotions from the day during the pitta time of 10 PM- 2 AM. When we are awake during this time we disrupt this natural detoxifying process.
- Offer a grounding breakfast. Children are expected to focus on lessons during the school day. A warm whole-grain cereal such as oatmeal helps keep vata dosha calm and grounded.
- Consider starting a family meditation. This can be as short as 1-2 minutes. Maybe even just three big breaths together will help set a positive tone for the day.
Ayurveda recognizes that we are all individuals. Our children also have their own individual needs. Recognizing the doshas within your child might help you to guide their time outside of school toward a place of true relaxation and balance.
Vata type children are creative and perhaps more independent. Although they may be drawn toward technology, getting them outside with their feet in sand or dirt will be very nourishing and beneficial.
Pitta children are natural-born leaders. Pitta intensity often needs to be reminded of the sweetness of life. Water is naturally calming for pitta dosha as well as non-competitive activities that burn up some of that energy like a spontaneous dance party.
Kapha children are cuddle bugs. Kapha types are often sympathetic toward others, so checking in with your kapha child about their feelings is important. Going for a walk is a great way to get moving and bond together.
When it comes to Ayurveda (or really anything in life) we can’t ask our children to do what we don’t practice ourselves. When you follow a daily rhythm, eat nourishing foods and choose to take care of your mind and body you are setting the tone for the rest of your household. Know that even when your children don’t cooperate or follow along with these Ayurvedic principles they are still absorbing everything that you do. Wishing you a calm and easeful back to school transition.
Angela Perger is an Ayurveda health counselor, yoga teacher, mother of two and host of The Simple Ayurveda Podcast where she discusses Ayurveda, motherhood, and minimalism. She has a master of science in elementary education and certifications in prenatal, kids, vinyasa and alignment-based Yoga. She has used Yoga and Ayurveda to heal from ulcerative colitis, hypothyroidism, and a rare autoimmune liver condition. Her goal is to share these ancient sciences in simple, everyday ways so that you can be your happiest, healthiest self. Connect with Angela on Instagram, Facebook or at simpleayurveda.com.