In our busy urban environment, and especially during cool and dry seasons, many of us feel scattered and overwhelmed. According to Ayurveda, a wellness system developed and practiced in India for thousands of years, these are symptoms of the imbalance of Vata Dosha – air and ether in the body and mind.
Air is light and moves quickly, adapting well to change, but can also whip itself into a frenzy and get burned out. Think of how you feel when you’re flipping between a number of applications on your laptop – at first you may be energized by all you’re discovering, but then keep it up for too long and you get muddled and exhausted.
Anyone can be affected by an excess of Vata from time to time, but people whose constitution is dominated by air and ether, will have to work on pacifying these most flighty and changeable elements throughout their lives. Fortunately, we can learn to use Yoga and Ayurveda skillfully to calm as opposed to stoke these windy elements that are the prime movers of Vata Dosha, even in our fast-paced wired lives.
After all, Vata types are fundamentally creative and think outside the box. Vata types are also quite comfortable sharing and spreading enthusiasm for their passion projects. In fact, they are the ultimate companions to have on board when you need some game-changing vision. Paired with a practical and logical Pitta (fire) type, projects will not only be fresh and new, but executed with an eye for detail and on time.
What does Ayurveda tell us about how to ride the winds of creativity as a Vata type?
The Vata Body Type
Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga and can reveal which postures, breathwork, sounding and meditation techniques will yield the most benefit for us. If Yoga is your personal prescription for optimal health and wellness, Ayurveda should be the prescriber. It teaches us how to pacify the qualities of Vata Dosha, which are dry, light, mobile, erratic, and rough. We need to apply foods, routines and techniques that are warming, nourishing, hydrating, and settling or grounding.
How do you know if you’re working with a predominance of air and ether in your constitution? Vata types tend to be long and lean, to move quickly and be multi-taskers, even eating on the go. When you’re in that kind of a buzzy head-space, it can be hard to settle at the end of the day, so those predominant in Vata Dosha are often night owls and can suffer from insomnia. Yet they are the type that would benefit most from a restorative deep sleep. People dominant in Vata Dosha often have dry skin, hair and nails, and get constipated if they eat foods that are binding and forget to drink enough water or soupy, warm foods.
Though highly motivated, Vata types seem to believe their tank can still run on empty. Ironically, those high in the Vata constitution would most benefit from some structure to their day, projects, ideas, and they are most in need of some good old down time and self care, like a restorative Yoga practice or an afternoon nap.
Want a free Vata balancing Yoga class to get grounded and focus all that creative energy of yours? … You’ll be one step closer to moving forward with all of those creative dreams you have.
Which Season Most Aggravates Vata Dosha?
Nothing whips up the airy Vata type into high gear than the cool, dry winds of fall and the early winter season. Cold, crisp and dry weather are invigorating, and the changing colours and beginnings of classes may make Vata Dosha feel literally in his or her element. But, as the effects of the season begin to take their toll on the body, and the busy list-making and large social gathering of the holidays arrive, Vata types will start to feel drained and put-upon.
Do you feel like the early promise of fall plans often fritter away to nothing? Do you find yourself either talking a mile a minute or hiding in a bathroom stall taking time to regroup?
Fortunately, fall offers a host of root vegetables and foods that are the perfect antidote.
Ayurvedic Diet for Balancing Vata Dosha
Three words encapsulate the Vata calming diet – warming, soupy and nourishing. Vata needs foods packed with nutrients and staying power, but that are easy to digest. The tastes that balance Vata Dosha are sweet, sour and salty. Think baked sweet potato with butter or avocado with olive oil, tamari and lime dressing.
Foods that are light and rough like dark green leafy vegetables are already Vata in nature, so they are only good if sautéd in ghee or olive oil or wilted in a stew. But root vegetables are a balancing opposite, often sweet and nutrient rich, like beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Digestive herbs can also help Vata to digest denser proteins – tofu can be cooked with cumin seed and carom. Ginger, cinnamon, cloves or saffron can be added to teas, almond milk and boiled milk for warmth, digestion and an immune boost. Welcome to cozy!
Vata Pacifying Foods and Herbs
- Dates (fresh or cooked)
- Cooked apples
- Ripe mango
- Ripe banana
- Sweet potato
- Mung beans
- Red lentils
- Fresh cheese
Yoga for Balancing Vata Dosha
Ayurveda is not only about what we eat, but about using our other balancing tools optimally – all aspects of Yoga can be fine-tuned to help bring you back to balance very quickly and with all the derivative wellness benefits of movement, breathwork, sounding and meditation combined. And contrary to popular belief, it does not have to take long. in 20 minutes a day, you can really bring Ayurveda wisdom into your life and feel great if you know which techniques to choose to get the most out of the time you’ve dedicated to yourself. And a good self care regimen is not really just for you either – your family, friends and colleagues will really notice how much more grounded, relaxed and focussed you are.
Let’s get to it – Yoga to help calm the winds of the Vata Dosha.
Postures for Balancing Vata Dosha
The seated spinal twist is an amazing posture for Vata Dosha. It massages the spine and calms the nervous system, while helping to release wind from the colon. Because the air-type can have issues with digestion and gas, the wind-relieveing pose is also a boon!
Strong pose is a wonderful very stable pose that gets us to hunker down into the area of the root chakra. So, it gives us a grounded feeling – bonus, it is also warming. But, when Vata is aggravated, what you need most is restoration. Forward bends activate the parasympathetic nervous system and are therefore very relaxing and soothing. And don’t forget to take a nice long final relaxation!
Breathwork for Balancing Vata Dosha
Laying abdominal breathing is one of the single most calming techniques for pacifying Vata Dosha. Just lay down on the back and allow the belly to rise and fall with the inhalation and exhalation. In hectic times, this can be practiced for five minutes at a time throughout the day.
Bhramari, the bumble bee breath, creates a vibratory hum on the exhale that is known to help release stress. Creating the bee sound helps lengthen the exhalation, so this is both a breathing and sounding technique for double the calming effect. Bhramari can also be done in postures – try it in Child’s pose or in relaxation on the belly after Cobra.
Alternate nostril breathing works to balance the right and left energy flows of the body and taps right into these ‘subtle nerves’. Working right in the area of Vata Dosha, in the upper chakras, anuloma viloma is an ideal balancing and integrating breath to help Vatas feel calm yet uplifted.
Mantra for Balancing Vata Dosha
Sound correlates with the ether element in Ayurveda, and so sound is within the realm of Vata. This means that grating sounds have the capacity to really disturb Vata, but soothing, steadying or uplifting sounds can really land well with this dosha. The Gayatri mantra chanted in a low regular meter can be very stabilizing for Vata Dosha, and is also warming, as keeping the meter going for several repetitions generates heat that complements this solar mantra. Consider using mala beads during recitations for the grounding effect of the tactile experience.
Meditation for Balancing Vata Dosha
Along with mala beads to keep Vata embodied and not spacing out during meditation, try keeping the eyes softly open and gazing on an object that symbolizes loving support. Though the full moon has a cooling quality, gazing at the full moon is said to increase the generative force called Ojas. During the warmer months, tap into the loving, deeply nourishing energy of the full moon.
Another really helpful technique for Vata’s regular routine that can be combined with meditation is aromatic oil massage. Sesame oil is the most unctuous oil for nourishing the tissues and the nerves. If you add a few drops of sweet essential oils like ylang ylang or rose to your warm sesame oil, massaging the body from scalp to toes can be a real gift of loving attention you give to yourself. You’ll feel more at home in your own body and ready for meditation. Or perhaps the focussed self massage is the meditation itself!
Yoga for Your Type with Akhanda Yoga Online
Yoga is such a great way to nurture and restore overstretched Vata types. Our online platform, Akhanda Yoga Online, has specialized Yoga sequences for each Dosha as well as many other techniques to manage your type.
Become a more vibrant, centred version of you! Enter your email below to get access to a FREE video toolkit for balancing Vata Dosha that includes a special recipe you can easily make at home, a full Yoga class and short, effective breathing and meditation sessions.