How to Balance Vata Dosha

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Warm nourishing food and drink help to balance Vata
Warm nourishing food and drink help to balance Vata

The Function of Vata Dosha

Vata Dosha represents the abstract quality of movement at the finest level of creation. This corresponds to breath, circulation, mental activity, passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract, joint function, etc. Vata gives rise to the primordial “elements” known as Space and Air. Vata is inherently unstable. Since it is much more prone to go out of balance than Pitta or Kapha, at some point nearly everyone, regardless of constitution, will need to balance Vata.

Vata Characteristics

The qualities of Vata reflect our surface-value associations with space and air. Vata is cold, light, dry, rough, brittle and subtle. It is seated in the colon and secondarily in the joints. Vata is also found in the hollow places throughout the body. When balanced, Vata gives enthusiasm, alertness, sound sleep, flexibility and normal movement throughout the physiology. When out of balance, Vata will cause spaciness, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, dry/rough skin, headache, back/joint pain, cold hands and feet, etc.

People with Vata-dominated Prakriti (constitution) tend to be thin and either short or tall. They typically think, talk, and move quickly. They can be very engaging, but moody with short memory and attention span. They generally dislike cold, dry weather. They don’t sweat much. They may find their appetite varies widely and so may have trouble maintaining weight. This makes sense in that Vata is the opposite of Kapha (structure).

The Face of Vata Dosha
The Face of Vata Dosha

Vata Periods in the Cycles of Nature

Vata dominates in old-age, in the barren period from late fall through winter, the third hour after eating, and in the pre-dawn and late afternoon (2 – 6 AM and 2 -6 PM). Correspondingly, we find the birds start tweeting and Nature otherwise wakes up in the pre-dawn hours. This is why it’s best to arise from bed before 6 AM in order to bring the wakefulness and enthusiasm of balanced Vata into daily activity.

The transition from spring (Kapha season) to summer (Pitta season) is not usually problematic because of Kapha’s stability. In contrast, the junctions going into and coming out of Vata season (late fall and winter) can be troublesome if we allow accumulated imbalances to carry over. Thus, these are important times for detoxification and dietary transition. As we’ve seen (How to Stay Warm in Winter), Vata thrives on comfort food – a heavier diet than that suited to spring or summer.

Effects of Vata Imbalance

Pain is a typical sign of Vata-aggravation. So are gas and bloating. Traveling, stress, grief, surgery, child birth, late night activity, irregular schedules, suppression of natural urges, excessive exercise, work or sex, and a dry/rough/raw diet are common aggravating factors.

Effects of Balance Effects of Imbalance
Mental alertness Anxiety, restlessness
Enthusiasm Headaches, fatigue
Normal elimination Constipation
Easy respiration Asthma
Good circulation Hypertension, Raynaud’s
Normal tissue formation Dry skin, arthritis, osteoporosis
Sound sleep Insomnia

Balancing Vata

Many individuals with Vata-influenced constitution love variety, but need the framework of a regular routine to remain stable and grounded while pursuing and enjoying that variety.

  • Get to bed before 10 PM
  • Maintain a regular daily routine
  • Follow a Vata-pacifying diet
    • Favor warm beverages
    • Food should be warm, freshly prepared and unctuous
    • Cook with liberal amounts of sesame oil. Ghee, butter, olive oil and coconut oil are also good.
    • Avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and chocolate
    • Avoid raw or gas-forming vegetables (broccoli family) and large beans (black beans, pinto bean, etc.)
  • Have some boiled milk with cardamom before bed with 2 tablets of Digestone or organic triphala
  • Practice Transcendental Meditation

Other Beneficial Practices

  • Pranayama breathing sessions
  • Moderate exercise – not to the point of exhaustion, e.g.,  walking in nature and yoga
  • Abhyanga self-massage with cured sesame oil
  • Nasya with cured sesame oil or Organic Clear & Soothe Nasal Spray from MAPI Products
  • If you tend to feel anxious or worried, take Worry Free 1-2 tablets twice a day, about 8 AM and 4 PM with warm water
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Author: Marc Edwards

Marc is a Family Physician who has studied, practiced and lived Ayurveda over 30 years.

14 thoughts on “How to Balance Vata Dosha”

    1. Ashish,

      The time required to balance Vata depends on the degree of imbalance and the cause. If there are major faults in health habits ( ) or digestion is disturbed ( ) or if Ama has accumulated ( ), these will need to be corrected.

      The good news is that most people find benefits just from moving in the right direction. This is because the Doshas are a “buffer” for imbalance to protect against disease. If we reduce the imbalance, things improve even if complete balance is not achieved.

      Also, we are adapted to our diet and daily routine even if it is not optimum for us. So, we need to be cautious about the pace of change. If we try to go too fast, that change can itself be a stress that makes us feel bad. In practice, my clients with Vata disturbance generally see clear signs of progress within a few weeks.

  1. Hello doctor, thank you for this information, first of all how can I judge my body Type in vada, pita and kaba to maintain balance also I have a question that I have a dental problem which is gum recession, is this can be cured by Ayurveda ?

    1. Jegan,

      Thank you for visiting. Body type is a blend of Prakriti and Vikriti – Nature and Imbalance. My Dosha questionnaire will help you think about it. But the first priority is to treat imbalances.

      Gum recession is best addressed by good daily dental hygiene using dental floss and proper brushing technique. An Ayurvedic toothpaste will help to nourish the gums, but will not likely of itself reverse gum recession. Often the best you can hope for is to prevent further progression. See your dentist for evaluation.

        1. To the contrary, it’s just that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Once recession occurs it is difficult to reverse. The goal of Ayurveda is prevention of suffering and enjoyment of life in bliss.

  2. Hello Doctor.
    I have been told I am Tridoshic with Vata/Pitta imbalance. I am menopausal and have noticed over the last three weeks that my skin from head to toe has become very dry. Any suggestions to alleviate this?

    1. Neelam,

      Yes, these symptoms are suggestive of a Vata imbalance. Even so, given that you have a fluttering heart and light-headedness, you would be wise to consider getting an evaluation by a doctor of western medicine to make sure there is no major problem with your heart.

  3. Hello Doctor,

    Hope you are well.
    I recently visited an ayurvedic doctor since I was complaining of stomach pain. On examination i was told that I’ve vata pitta imbalance. I’ve been put on a diet were I’ve to abstain from sour things and few other things as well.

    Doctor my question is ,on following the diet as suggested will the doshas be back to normal and what precautions should I take for future.

    Thanks &Regards

    1. Dear Geeta,

      It was good that you had a consultation. It is not good to ignore pain.

      I hope that the advice you received has been helpful for improving your symptoms. When two Doshas are out of balance (in your case Vata and Pitta), delicate judgment is required to find the best path to resolve the situation. For example, the sour taste balances Vata but aggravates Pitta. In general, patients feel better before balance is fully restored. Your doctor has much knowledge of your situation and is the best person to ask about how to protect yourself in the future.

  4. Hello,

    Wouldn’t pranayama exercises aggravate vata by increasing it? I would assume that doing breath control exercises would increase the influence of vata (air element). Same with Transcendental meditation; I would assume meditation strengthens vata even more.
    Would appreciate your response.

    Thank you,

    1. Dear Youssef,

      With Ayurveda, the effects of any intervention can be predicted by the principle of similar and opposites. Opposites bring balance. Similars bring increase. With TM, one sits with the eyes closed and takes a dive within. The process naturally settles the mind. Many scientific studies show profound, reproducible physiological effects, including reduction in anxiety and the stress response. Vata represents movement in the physiology and mind. TM clearly does the opposite.

      Likewise, Pranayama calms and settles the physiology – an effect that anyone can verify. Yes, Pranayama involves breathing and movement of air. Perhaps this is the source of your confusion. But breathing is essential to life. Compare Pranayama to an asthma attack. Then maybe it’ll be easier for you to see the difference. Calm and settled are qualities of Kapha, which is the opposite of Vata.

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