Ayurveda: Vata Dosha

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ayurveda / Blog / Writing

Vata Dosha

The elements of Air + Ether/Space are reflected in our surrounding environment with the transition to Fall season through change — a drop in temperature, falling leaves, & windy weather. During this season in particular, Ayurveda addresses the aspects of Vata Dosha that are influenced by the Fall weather to help Vata stay balanced & grounded amidst the changes in the environment.

Features of Vata: Dry, light, subtle, astringent, cool, rough, mobile, & clear.

Physical Expression: Dry skin & mucosa, light + thin body frame, prominent joints, cold hands + feet, aversion to cold, stiffness + reduced mobility of the joints, muscle tension, shivering, low body weight, quick gait & rate of verbal expression, short bursts of activity, restlessness, movement, variable appetite, irregular digestion, bloating, light sleep or insomnia.

Mental Expression: Learns & understands new information well but forgets quickly, clairvoyance, openness, creativity, imagination, mental flexibility, scattered thinking, over-stimulation.

Emotional Expression: Anxiety, nervousness, worry, fear, insecurity, loneliness, mood swings, happiness, love, friendliness, excitement, quick reactions.

When in balance, Vatas are happy, loving, social, creative, imaginative, open, & mentally flexible.

When out of balance, Vatas may experience lack of stability, fatigue, worry, loneliness, over-stimulation, scattered thinking, anxiety, restlessness, digestive issues, and insomnia.

Balancing Vata Dosha: Physically, Mentally, Emotionally

Movement & Stillness

As the Dosha responsible for movement in the environment, mind, and body — Vatas enjoy being active. However, Vatas must be careful not to move too fast, as quick movement can result in Vata imbalance & potential injury, as Vata body types are susceptible to less stability in the joints & muscles. Vatas benefit from movement that is slow, mindful, warming, engaged, & strength-building. In addition, Vatas benefit greatly from the counterpose to movement — stillness. These aspects of movement & stillness are pacifying to Vata on a physical, mental, and emotional level.

Routine & Ritual

With tendencies toward constant movement and the potential for feelings of instability, Vatas benefit greatly from consistency, daily routine (dinacharya), and ritual. Examples include Ayruvedic cleansing such as drinking warm water upon waking in the morning to stimulate regular digestion, tongue scraping, and oil pulling. Additional recommendations include going to sleep & waking up at the same time each day, beginning the day with light activity such as gentle + warming yoga or walking, meditation every day to promote stillness & grounding, gentle pranayama, & eating at regular times.

Warmth & Grounding

Given the propensity toward cold, Vatas love warmth and benefit from wearing layers, warm & mildly stimulating colors (e.g., soft reds, oranges, yellows, gold), bundling up, and being cozy. It is important for Vatas to select foods that are warming, moist, oily, and heavier in nature to counteract the sense of lightness in the body. As a rule of thumb, Vatas should avoid or moderate foods that are raw, crunchy, and airy. To address dry skin, which is often exacerbated in the Fall & Winter and to improve circulation, Vatas benefit from gentle oil massage (abhyanga) with a warming oil such as sesame prior to showering or bathing. Vatas love physical touch, as it serves to calm, sooth, and stabilize.

Environment & Relationships

Choose leisurely activities that are gentle and calming. Vatas enjoy being social, however it is important for Vatas to be aware of environments that can be aggravating — e.g., limit time spent in loud, over-stimulating environments that increase overall energy. Vatas are loving & giving in both romantic and platonic relationships — however, if unbalanced, Vatas are at a higher risk of developing less secure attachments. Consider a work environment with a fairly consistent schedule that ideally does not involve being on your feet the entire day. If your work schedule is not consistent, or you are very active throughout the day, maintain a routine before + after work, and take breaks for stillness.

Maintaining Balance

Balance looks & feels different for everyone, and is not a static process. Maintaining balance involves a fine-tuned awareness & sensitivity to create subtle changes based on needs in the present moment.

Knowledge of the Dosha system creates understanding and compassion for the self & others. These suggestions can be beneficial for Vata Doshas, those experiencing a Vata imbalance, or during the Fall season when Vata energy is predominant in the surrounding environment.

References: Lad, V. The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies.


The Author

yogi + registered yoga teacher + life-long student of the eight-limbed path

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Ayurveda: Vata Dosha — sarah erter yoga | schlaflosinwien

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