Just as an imbalance in any of the five elements is enough to spawn chaos in nature, imbalances in any of the three Doshas may result in physiological and psychological disorders in the body.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, the constitution of each individual’s body is unique according to the three life forces, or Doshas. This Tridosha body type is innate and does not change throughout a person’s life. The three Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – represent different properties. These properties are based on a combination of the five elements: Space/Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.
What is Vata Dosha?
The Vata Dosha combines the ether/space and air elements. Ayurvedic practitioners consider Vata the King of Doshas as it governs the other two doshas. When Vata is in equilibrium, the Pitta and Kapha Doshas are most likely also in balance.
Vata is the foundation of our sense of wellbeing, so it is imperative to keep this Dosha balanced. Vata constitutes the vitality and is responsible for governing all motor functions in the body at both a microscopic and macroscopic level.
From blinking to breathing, many subtypes of Vata in the body play essential roles in biological functions. Vata dosha controls our energy, movement, and nerve impulses. Physiologically, it manifests in the breath, speech, circulation, and digestion.
Functions of Vata Dosha
The physiological and psychological characteristics vary depending on which Dosha is predominant. Vata, the energy of movement, is highest during fall and between seasons. Hence, it is important to be careful of diet and lifestyle as the seasons change. In addition to governing movements in our body, Vata controls the activities of the nervous system, and the process of eliminating toxins.
When Vata Dosha is in balance, it can also encourage creativity and flexibility. Conversely, any kind of imbalance in this Dosha is likely to cause fear and anxiety.
Since Vata Dosha governs the motion of all bodily processes and functions, one of the most important lifestyle considerations is to stabilize this motion by developing a routine. This is especially important for a person with a predominant Vata Dosha.
Balanced Vs Imbalanced Vata Dosha
Imbalances in the air and space elements cause an imbalance in the Vata Dosha in the body. Prolonged imbalances in Vata subsequently cause imbalances in the Kapha and Pitta Doshas, resulting in physiological and psychological upheaval.
High-Vata people are generally tiny with a delicate structure, similar to that of marathon runners and models. Their skin tends to be thin, their hair fuzzy, and they may have some tooth irregularities. Their skin may darken and experience damage in the summer, making it susceptible to early aging.
Not unlike the wind, Vata people find it difficult to stay grounded. While maintaining a strict routine might be challenging, having one is beneficial. People with excessive Vata Dosha tend to benefit from warm, moist, and easy-to-digest foods. Steam baths, humidifiers, and oil massages help people with Vata Dosha Imbalance.
People with a predominant Vata Dosha in the body are lucky to have a strong awareness and pride themselves on being flexible and creative. While their ability to grasp concepts quickly, they tend to forget them just as quickly. They are generally fast thinkers. They tend to be alert, restless, and very active, with often leads to fatigue.
On the downside, Vata-predominant people have less willpower, confidence, and boldness, and their threshold for tolerating change and fluctuation is usually lower than people with other predominant Doshas. They often feel unstable and ungrounded. Anticipating this anxiety may lead to further anxiety and cause a vicious cycle.
Moreover, Vata body types can get restless and sometimes forget to eat. Not eating when hungry can affect their digestion adversely. Sleep disorders are common in people with Vata imbalance because of their continuous activity on many levels.
- Joint pain
- Muscle cramps
- Dry and rough skin
- Sensitivity to cold
- Astringent taste in the mouth
- A feeling of ‘ungroundedness’
- Excessive movement or talking
- Lack of patience
So now that we have seen the symptoms of an imbalanced Vata Dosha, it is important to look at what causes Vata Dosha imbalance to begin with.
What causes Vata Dosha imbalance?
One basic principle of Ayurveda is “Like increases like.” Therefore, increasing the inherent qualities of Vata will increase the build-up of Vata in your body. People with Vata Dosha have certain defining attributes. These attributes are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and clear. An excessive amount of any of these traits is enough to cause an imbalance in Vata Dosha.
Vata imbalance dominates a few places in the body – the large intestine, pelvis, knees, ears, hips, and skin. In the event of an excessive Vata build-up, the result could be anxiety, insomnia, flatulence, or a combination of these symptoms.
Several external stimuli contribute to the imbalance of Vata. These may be frequent travel (especially by air), drugs and alcohol, sugar, loud noises, and exposure to cold liquids and foods.
How to balance Vata Dosha?
Ayurvedic medicine considers balancing the Vata Dosha one of the most important aspects of leading a healthy lifestyle. To keep Vata balanced, there are specific lifestyle choices to make.
Diet for Vata: In general, anyone with Vata imbalance should avoid fasting. Additionally, follow the “SSS” rule to pacify Vata. The three S’s stand for Sweet, Sour, and Salty.
Naturally sweet food like grains, squashes, and fruits benefit Vata imbalance, whereas consumption of food that contains artificial sweeteners is not. Moderation is the best when consuming sour and salty food.
Spices that help warm the body are incredibly beneficial for the Vata types. Some of these are ginger, pepper, and cardamom. In a diet for Vata Dosha, Ayurvedic practitioners tend to recommend small, regular meals.
It is advisable to take sufficient time to chew the food. This will help the pre-existing enzymes in the saliva release, easing the digestive process.
Recommended Foods for High-Vata:
Meat: fish, chicken, and eggs
Fruits: sweet fruits like bananas, coconut, apples, figs, grapes, mangoes, and oranges
Vegetables: well-cooked and warm vegetables like carrots, okra, green beans, asparagus, and sweet potatoes
Grains: oats, rice, and wheat
Milk Products: milk, ghee, paneer (cottage cheese), yogurt
Anyone with Vata imbalance should consume warm beverages along with warm and cooked vegetables. Avoid stimulating drinks like alcohol, excessive caffeine, and carbonated drinks.
Lifestyle Changes: Following a strict routine will help balance the Vata. As we saw earlier, Vata imbalances cause a lot of anxiety. This is typically due to a person wanting to complete many tasks at once. Too much activity may end up aggravating the Vata imbalance even further. Additionally, cold temperatures can cause an imbalance, so High-Vata individuals should aim to stay in warm and humid conditions as much as possible.
There are certain Yoga poses that may assist with Vata balance:
- Cat stretch
- Surya Namaskara
- Vrikasana (Tree Pose)
- Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)
- Purna Pavanmuktasana
Since Vata types are susceptible to flatulence and weak digestion, they may seek Ayurvedic basti treatment at a well-credentialed Ayurveda Spa. Additionally, consulting an expert for Panchkarma or other detox treatments can help to rid the body of excess Vata.
Add the following herbs and spices to your diet as a health supplement to balance Vata Dosha:
Ayurveda always advocates moderation, acknowledging that too much of a good thing becomes a problem in the long run. Like anyone else, Vata types should be aware of their self-harming tendencies and learn to avoid them.
Balance yourself by seeking warmth, partaking in low-intensity exercise, and eating warm, freshly cooked, and oily foods.
- Avoid extremely cold and windy atmosphere
- Introduce warm, oily foods and spices to your diet
- Regular routine is crucial to balance Vata Dosha
- Incorporate rest, relaxation, and meditative practices into your daily life