So what in the world does it mean to have a primary vata dosha?
First, let’s cover a few basics. Born out of the Vedic culture of India, Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of holistic healing that roughly translates to “the science of life.” Believed by many to be the oldest health system in the world, Ayurveda utilises diet, cleansing routines, herbal remedies, exercise and other lifestyle approaches to help bring the mind, body and spirit into balance.
The concept of balance is vital in Ayurveda, because being out of balance is the root of all disease, according to this ancient wellness philosophy. If you haven’t done so already, take the What dosha are you? quiz here.
What Are Doshas?
So how do doshas fit into all of this? First, let’s take a closer look at how the elements in the universe — ether (space), air, fire, water and earth — create the three main “doshas” found in all of us.
While we’re all made up of a unique mix of the three main doshas — Vata (ether/space + air), Pitta (fire + water) and Kapha (water + earth) — we tend to be most dominant in one. And that primary dosha is also the one that’s most likely to come out of balance, threatening our mental and physical health.
Knowing we’re all a unique mix of all three doshas, in this article, we’re going to build a greater understanding of the dosha vata.
Now, please keep in mind that understanding your dominant dosha is helpful and important, but combining that knowledge with the season is key to staying balanced, regardless of your constitution, notes Ayurveda and yoga teacher Michele D’Agostino.
we’re all a unique mix of all three doshas
That’s because the qualities of each season can increase or decrease those qualities in us. D’Agostino shares this example: “Autumn is vata season, which can really throw a vata person out of balance. They will need to be more mindful of creating balance during Autumn.”
But really, in today’s hyper-mobile society, chances are we’ve all got a little too much vata. “High mobility is the state of our current culture,” explains D’Agostino. “People travel more than ever, information travels at the speed of light — it’s seems as though time is speeding up.”
It’s this state of high mobility that tends to creates a vata derangement and need to balance in all of us, regardless of our primary dosha.
What Is Vata?
To understand vata, it’s best to break down the physical characteristics we’re born with, the mental characteristics associated with vata types and explore the conditions and symptoms that can bubble to the surface if you’re living with excess vata.
Physical Characteristics (Vata Dosha Body Type)
People high in vata tend to be exhibit the following physical characteristics, also known as vata body type:
- Light-colored blue or green eyes, smaller or irregular in shape
- Bony, joints crack
- Light, thin frame
- Very flexible
- More translucent skin, easier to see veins
- Fine light hair
- Dry skin
- Delicate features
- Tend to “run cold”
- Vata weight loss tends to be easy or even unintentional; this type often struggles to gain weight
Emotional and Personality Characteristics of Vata Dosha
Some vata dosha characteristics also include being:
- Emotionally sensitive (heart on sleeve)
- Multifaceted interests and abilities
When in balance, the vata type seems to effortlessly juggle several things at once, loves change, is adaptable and is highly creative. But what are the symptoms of vata excess? These tend to surface in the form of heightened anxiety, fear, racing thoughts and trouble concentrating.
Bring balance to your Vata dosha
Routine is Vata’s best lifestyle remedy. The minimum routine for healthy, happy, and successful living is 1) eating your meals at the same time daily and 2) getting into and out of bed at the same time daily. Changes in these two areas disrupt your bio-rhythms, upset digestion and the liver, and have the potential to undermine Vata’s delicate health. Vata individuals must take caution not to get too excited or distracted. Excitement will ultimately lead to exhaustion and knock Vata off their routine. Instead, Vata must learn to channel their energy and focus in order to nurture their creative projects long enough to bear fruit.
Vata individuals can create more stability in their lives by making their home nurturing, affectionate, warm, soft, and comfortable. Slippers, comfortable jumpers, throw blankets, and plenty of pillows are helpful for Vata. Keep your home tidy, as a sure sign of Vata imbalance is disorganisation or lack of cleanliness.
Vata balancing with foods
Vata individuals tend towards lightness and need more nurturing foods rich in sweet taste, oil, and salt. Other body types may be jealous of the delicious food recommended for a Vata diet. Sweet taste does not mean sugar, which is actually overstimulating for Vata. In Ayurveda, sweet refers to nourishing foods like root vegetables, animal products, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Foods should be warm, moist, and heavy, yet easy to digest – something like a root vegetable soup, or grandma’s chicken soup, for example.
Vata tends toward dryness, which is often the first sign of Vata imbalance. If you are Vata, hydrate your body before sitting down to eat. Stomach acid, enzymes, and bile all come in liquid form. If you are not hydrating at least half hour before a meal, you’ll lack the 2/3rd litre of fluid necessary to digest your meal, and may experience fullness after only a few morsels.Take care to drink before that window, avoiding water while eating half hour before and after a meal. Dryness often causes gas, bloating, and constipation. Aside from hydrating with water, sour and salty tastes are the juicy flavors to favour. Add good quality oils like ghee to your diet and regularly massage your skin with oil, especially mustard seed.
Vata tends to be cold skinned and deficient. The blood of a Vata person may be anemic and lacking umph. This lack of umph also weakens digestion since the digestive organs are fueled by blood. Blood builders like grass fed red meat, raisins, eggs, and saffron may be helpful.
A Vata person’s metabolism may be low due to exhaustion. As a result, their food doesn’t get broken down fully. This begins a chain reaction where nutrients don’t get absorbed, further weakening the blood. Bad bacteria grow in the unabsorbed food, causing gas and bloating. Not the afters were looking for after a meal hey?!
Vata individuals should avoid foods that are cold and difficult to digest, such as legumes, raw food, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Add warmth by adding mild spices and serve food hot, ginger, and black pepper support healthy Vata digestion. Vatas need to be sure to chew food well and be present and still while eating.
Remedies for the following imbalanced qualities:
- Dry – with salt, oil, sour taste, or protein
- Light – with carbs, fats, and proteins
- Cold – with spices and cooked food served hot
- Rough – with gooey foods like oatmeal
- Subtle – with grounding root vegetables
- Clear – with grounding root vegetables
A go to dish for Vatas feeling off balance is MungDahl Kitchari
- 1 cup Basmati rice
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbs ghee
- 1 inch of fresh ginger root diced or tsp off ginger paste
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
- 1/2 cup of mung beans
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4-5 cups of water
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1. Use split mung bean if possible.
2. Soak the mung beans for several hours before cooking and drain.
3. Bring the mung beans and 4 cups of water to a boil, scooping off any foam that forms on the top. Then, strain out the liquid, and add another 4c to the mung dal.
4. Meanwhile mash the ginger with a mortar and pestle, or slice thinly. Set the mustard seed aside. Mix the remaining spices together with 1 tsp water, making a paste.
5. Fry the mustard seeds in ghee until they begin to pop.
6. Add the spice paste, spreading it in the pan, and fry for thirty seconds.
7. Add the spices to mung bean. Take some of the broth and wash any remaining spices from the frying pan into the simmering mung bean.
8. After an hour, or when mung beans begin to soften add white basmati rice and another cup of water. If you are going to use brown rice, be sure to add an extra cup of water and cook for longer – until the rice is soft.
9. Cook until tender on low heat for 20-25 minutes.
- A common question is, “Can vata dosha be cured?” Instead of thinking about “curing” a dosha, it’s better to focus on choosing a appropriate daily routine that helps balance your vata dosha.
- Bring excess vata back into balance by focusing on:
- vata-balancing diet
- Spending time in nature
- Adopting a daily routine
- Practicing vata dosha yoga like gentle, restorative yoga (avoid faster, flow yoga)
- Practicing sitali pranayama (cooling breathwork)
- Taking a daytime nap
- Going to bed earlier
- Taking a nap during the day
- Daily massage with warm sesame oil
- Spending time with people who are grounded (kapha)
- Considering exploring Ayurvedic herbals like triphala to improve digestive health, ashwagandha to balance stress hormones and brahmi, also known as bacopa, historically used to purify the mind
- A vata dosha diet should include plenty of warm, cooked root vegetables, warm lemon water and even some seaweed.
I hope this article has given you a useful insight into your dosha, and if you would like more information or support in bringing your mind/body/soul back into union, please leave a comment or drop me a message here