Written by Anna Dale
Vata is composed of air and space elements and it governs all movement in the mind and body. Any time there is motion there is involvement of air. Air may move too fast, too slow or become obstructed and blocked. For example, in the digestive system excess flow results in diarrhea, deficient flow in sluggish motion and blocked flow in either severe constipation or complete obstruction. In the joints, excess motion results in hyper-mobility, deficient motion in decreased range of motion and blocked flow in a frozen joint. In the circulatory system, excess motion can result in rapid heart rate, decrease flow in a sluggish heart rate or poor circulation, while blocked flow results in tissue ischemia (lack of oxygen) leading to necrosis (death of the tissue). Vata also controls the movement of thoughts in the mind. Vata is considered the leader of the three doshas (energies or energetic principles in the body), as Pitta and Kapha cannot move or exist without it. It is therefore imperative that Vata is brought back into balance whenever it is disturbed.
Qualities of Vata: cold, light, dry, quick irregular, rough, moving, changeable
Times of day: 2am-6am; 2pm-6pm
Tastes to balance Vata: sweet, sour and salty
Taste to aggravate Vata: pungent, bitter and astringent
Characteristics of Vata Types
Talk and walk quickly
Quick to learn, but also quick to forget
Imaginative, creative, lively, fun personality
Lightest of the there body types (weight wise)
Dislike of cold climate, tendency to cold hand and feet
Variable digestion and appetite
Tendency to act on impulse, racing thought
Dry skin, hair, do not perspire much
Full of joy and enthusiasm when balanced
Fearful, anxious, worried, nervous when out of balance
Tendency to tire easily
Little willpower, confidence or baldness
Earn money quickly, spend quickly, tend to remain poor
Sleep less then the other types, tendency to insomnia
Typical health problems include headaches, hypertension, dry coughs, sore throats, earaches, anxiety, irregular heart rhythms, muscle spasms, lower back pain, constipation, abdominal gas, diarrhea, nervous stomach, menstrual cramps, premature ejaculation and other sexual dys-functions, arthritis, fear, anxiety, pain, tremors and digestive challenges.
Tips for balancing Vata:
Follow a Vata balancing diet favoring cooked foods rather than raw foods and salads.
Give yourself an Abhyanga massage using warm sesame oil each morning or evening if you do not have time in the morning.
Go to bed at 10 pm, and have lots of rest.
Diffuse calming and grounding aromatic oils or incense into your home and office. Orange, geranium, lavender & basil are excellent in this regard.
Ensure you have regular, daily elimination. Triphala herbal formula helps in this regard.
Stay warm, especially in cold, windy weather.
Take gentle walks in the countryside to calm and balance the mind.
Wear calm, soothing colors such as pastels, green or brown.
Do not overexert and rest whenever the body becomes tired or over stimulated.
Relax often by practicing meditation, pranayama, Yoga or Tai Chi.
Chant ‘Ram’ (pronounced ‘rarm’) each day.
Read light, humorous, feel-good novels and turn the television off one hour before bed.
Take up walking, fishing, bird-watching or gardening for general relaxation.
Take up writing, drawing, painting or acting to balance your creative energies.
Avoid excessive talking and try to have a day of silence each week.
Avoid loud, noisy environments.
Rest for short periods throughout the day.
The Vata balancing diet
Favour warm, hearty, nourishing foods with added oil – favour salty, sour and sweet tastes.
Reduce light, dry, cold foods and pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.
Hot, creamy cereals (wheat, oatmeal or rice), soups and stews are all very good for pacifying Vata.
Oils are good but favour ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, flax, pumpkin oil and sesame oil.
Reduce your intake of cold foods such as crackers, salads (hard to digest), light & dry foods.
Soak nuts and seeds and make it into porridge spiced with warm spices, e.g. cardamom, cinnamon, clove. Soak almonds over night, de-husk in the morning, mix with hemp seeds, sesame seeds, dates and make a nourishing, sattwic shake.
Reduce the intake of all bean products as they increase air in the body. Mung beans, split yellow dhal and red lentils are easier to digest.
The best grains are rice and wheat but you can take barley, oats, buckwheat, corn, millet and rye in moderation.
Favour stewed and well ripened, sweet or sour fruits but reduce the intake of dry or light fruits. Dried fruits are good if they are soaked overnight.
Sweeteners e.g. jaggary, honey, maple syrup are good in moderation.
Vegetables should be cooked and not raw. Peas, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, zucchini and potatoes are acceptable in moderate quantities if they are cooked, with oil and Vata reducing spices but it is best to avoid sprouts and cabbage.
Healthy breakfast will improve energy levels throughout the day.
Herbal teas (camomile, fennel, basil) are good for Vata energy slumps.
Avoid stimulants such as coffee and alcohol.
Sip hot water with lemon throughout the day to flush out impurities and balance Vata. Do not put lemon in boiling hot water since heat destroys Vitamin C.
Use Vata spice mixture: 2 tsp cardamom + 1 tsp cumin +1 tsp ginger +1/2 tsp cinnamon + ½ tsp nutmeg + pinch of hing and pinch of rock salt