Vata dosha is composed of the elements air and ether, and thus has the qualities which are associated with air and ether, namely: cold, dry, light and mobile. When we live out of harmony with the natural world, the doshas tend to go out of balance, which leads to disease. Typically this translates into increased dosha and a disturbance of the qualities associated with it. When vata goes out of balance, one becomes colder (you feel cold much of the time), drier (dry skin, dry colon leading to constipation) lighter (weight loss), more mobile (body and mind always moving).
In the Caraka Samhita, the ultimate classical reference book on Ayurveda, the major symptoms of vata imbalance are debility, tremors, coldness, constipation, distention, insomnia, disorientation, incoherent speech, dizziness, confusion, depression, hyperactivity and pain. Our emotional states go hand in hand with our physical states, and when vata is out of balance, you become challenged by the “cold” emotions – fear, worry, anxiety.
If you suffer from one or more of these, you likely have a vata imbalance and could benefit from practices that bring balance to vata dosha. Since Ayurveda is based on the laws of nature, one of the primary laws of nature applied in Ayurveda is that “opposites balance each other.” Since a vata imbalance involves being cold, dry, light and mobile, vata is balanced by the opposite – warm, moist, heavy and stable. So all practices that include these qualities become important for vata dosha. Examples include warm, moist foods; stable routines (including eating and sleeping at regular times); grounding practices, including eating root vegetables; applying appropriate oil to the skin (abhyanga), and including a generous amount of high quality oil or ghee into your diet. Also, avoid becoming chilled, gentle yoga or exercise practice, keep your bowels regular are also very beneficial to vata. Good aroma choices include cinnamon, clove, lavender, tulsi and frankincense. Go to bed before 10 pm and avoid fasting.
Just remember that because vatas are composed of air and ether, when in balance, they have incredible expansiveness of thinking. They are open to new ideas, are creative, spiritually aware. And full of enthusiasm! So by engaging in the practices that will keep you in balance, these amazing gifts are able to fully manifest!
By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda
Excerpts from “Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine” by Dr. Marc Halpern, Founder and Director of the California College of Ayurveda.