Understanding Vata Dosha
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
As a science of self-healing, Ayurveda encompasses diet and nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, rest and relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, and medicinal herbs (along with cleansing and rejuvenation programmes); and we can all take simple actions for prevention, self-healing, growth and fulfilment.
Since birth, every human being has had an individual combination of the three Doshas (life forces or body type): Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They're made of the five elements, and they are present in every cell, tissue and organ. When in balance they create health. When out of balance, they are the cause of disease. It's therefore crucial to keep a Doshic balance to promote (and restore) health and wellbeing.
Vata Dosha: ether + air
Vata is responsible for our energy and MOVEMENT as well as for nerve impulses. Breath, speech, circulation and digestion are all the manifestation of Vata.
Below are the main attributes of Vata Dosha and how they are expressed in the physical mental, and behavioural characteristics of a Vata individual.
What are the symptoms of an aggravated Vata?
To maintain health and balance, it requires moment-to-moment awareness, you actually have to know yourself and notice the signs/symptoms that you are out of balance.
What creates Vata imbalance?
Unhealthy diet, excess stress, insufficient rest or exercise, repressed emotions all disturb your doshic balance. But not only.
According to Ayurveda "like increases like", that's the basis of understanding how Doshic imbalances work. In other words, whatever qualities/attributes you bring into your life will increase the Dosha that has those qualities (see Vata's attributes above). Meaning that changes in age and in seasons can also throw you out of balance.
So if you continue to expose yourself to the qualities of Vata Dosha from your environment, Vata will in turn increase within you and impact your mind, body and emotions.
Living in dry and cold weather
Drinking a cold glass of water
Eating too much raw and cold foods
Doing too many things at once
Excess cardio exercise
Too much travel
Lack of routine
It's worth mentioning that diet remains the main potential causes of disease: wrong food combinations, stale food, food with chemicals, and wrong eating habits such as eating too late at night or eating in a rush). Good news is that a proper diet is one of the major ways we can take control of our lives and maintain healthy balance.
How to reduce Vata and get back in balance?
As discussed earlier, "like increases like", which means that opposite qualities decrease or balance". As simple as that. Vatas are naturally cold, dry, mobile, and rough in energy so they need foods of the opposite qualities: warm, moist, dense and oily.
1. Eat naturally sweet, salty, and sour foods, avoiding junk food, excessive salt, and processed sugars.
2. Avoid frozen, cooling and dried foods. Avoid or minimise raw foods such as salads and raw sprouts.
3. Eat cooked foods, served hot or warm, and well-spiced (turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and cumin). Pureed soups, cooked fruit, hot cereal, and hot nourishing beverages such as golden milk.
4. Carrots, asparagus, tender leafy greens, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and other kids of squash are the best vegetable choices. Avoid nightshades, (such as tomato, white potato, eggplant and bell pepper) and larger beans.
5. Veggies become more digestible when chopped or cooked with Vata-pacifying spices. Vegetables can be combined with grains or mung beans for satisfying one-dish meals.
6. Basmati rice, wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, cooked oats are great grains for Vata.
7. Cook foods with a little ghee (clarified butter available at organic stores), or include some olive oil in your diet everyday. Olive oil cannot be heated to high temperatures without destroying its healing value, so drizzle olive oil over fresh soft flatbreads, cooked grains, or warm vegetable dishes.
8. Drink Triphala at night to support healthy elimination and tonification of the colon.
LIFESTYLE & ROUTINE
1. Vatas need to follow a fixed routine and avoid too many different, frenetic activities. Bedtime, waking time, meal time, and exercise time should be the same every day.
- wake up around the same time each day (ideally at dawn)
- eat lunch around the same time every day
- exercise in the afternoon, when your energy levels are up
- eat early & light dinner
- go to bed by 10pm
2. Practice gentle yoga at a slow and steady pace. Sun Salutations are an amazing for Vata.
3. Stay warm, calm and relaxed with hot baths, warm oil massages, steam and heat treatments, and soothing music.
3. Meditate regularly for stability and calmness of mind4
4. Take things slow, and breathe deeply and meaningfully.
5. Practice Alternate Nostril Breathing to balance the nervous system.
Finally, three keys words for Vata that coud be use as a daily mantra:
Love & Light