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

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