As we’ve discussed, Vata is the harmonious combination of air and ether (space). Vata’s flourish when there are daily routines in place - eating, working, and sleeping at the same time. Keeping warm (no matter the weather!) is essential to keeping Vata happy. Vata's are nourished by foods that have the qualities that are opposite from their natural features of being dry, cold, light, subtle, and rough. Foods that are moist, heavy, smooth, and hot and include the tastes of sweet, salty, and sour will be most nourishing and beneficial to a Vata person’s diet.
When in balance, one with a Vata constitution feels lively, enthusiastic, lean, and efficient. They practice positive mantras in stressful situations to stay grounded and present. They best express themselves through the arts - poetry, music, storytelling, painting, drawing, etc. They are always ready for a new adventure (although tend to become bored easily) and are excited about life and wanting to help inspire others to be happy and light.
When out of balance, Vata Dosha Types can experience a variety of symptoms depending on if there is an excess of Vata or not enough Vata.
Vata in excess manifests as…
A lack of Vata manifests as…
Vata can be knocked out of balance by the excessive intake of the flavors of pungent, astringent, or bitter as they all decrease heat, absorb excess moisture, and aren’t heavy enough to balance Vata’s natural lightness. They typically struggle to find energy during the later afternoon and evening (2-6pm) and again first thing in the morning (2-6am). Other things that can be a factor in the off balance of the Vata dosha are…
What can you do to help get your Vata back into balance?
Again because “like increase like” there is a natural tendency for Kapha types to be attracted to the qualities that tip them out of balance. As Vata is cold, dry, mobile, and subtle, it is best balanced with the opposites: moist or wet, warm ,stability, and smooth.
Tips for Vata Dosha Types or those experiencing a Vata imbalance
In general, some diet tips that have been helpful for Vata's include…
foods that are cold, dry, hard,
foods that are very spicy, bitter, or astringent
yeast, refined sugars, coffee, tea, tobacco
drugs, poor-quality oils and extremely spicy foods
Honey, Ghee, dates, root vegetables, nuts, chicken
Wheat, oats, rice
Heal tissues (aloe vera is shown to speed up healing wounds)
Lubricates and nurture mucus membrane lining the mouth, lungs, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems
Clears a dry throat and lungs by enhancing expectoration
Milk will have a laxative effect and soften the stools
Beneficial to the Vata’s dry skin
Soy sauces, tamari, miso
Warm the body to balance the Vata’s natural coolness
Mildly increases the digestive fire and aids in elimination
Nourishes the body and its tissues and grounds the nervous system
Hydrates the body and is mildly tonifying
Softens the tissues therefore increasing flexibility and suppleness
Beneficial to people who have lost their appetite as it enhances flavors
Sour fruits - lemons, limes, amla
Fermented foods like cultured yogurt, tempeh, sourdough bread, pickles
Vinegar or other acids like citric, lactic ascorbic
Warm the body
Helps to increase digestion by increasing the acidity in the body
Helps to remove any anxious disturbances of the nervous system
Helpful in preventing the formation of gas in the body.
When you’re feeling as though you’re out of balance, food and nutrition is a very great first step to help getting things back on track. When it comes to your meals, favor those items that are…
Red lentils, occasionally
Uncooked apple and pear
Asafetida, cardamom, cumin, cilantro, ginger, fennel, dill, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, and black pepper.
The above help to reduce gas and spasms in the digestive system.
Vata would benefit most from warmer beverages as iced would only increase the cold feelings in the body that are naturally there. Throughout the day, try to consume plenty of warm (room temperature) water, spicy herbal teas (chamomileis great for Vata!) that have ginger in them. A great mid-afternoon treat would be warm lemon water with honey and ginger. Beverages with a lemon or lime base are also beneficial to the Vata as they carry the sour taste as it supports the Vata’s digestion.
Vata’s tend to be full of creative ideas and excel at linking intellectual concepts together. However, with all of that internal busyness that happens, Vata's easily become anxious and scattered. Vata's are always expecting the worst in any situation they face. Their irregular nature means that they often start new projects, but are easily distracted and shift their focus. To help balance all of this, the vata needs to make time to ground themselves. Slow down, refine your focus, and allow yourself to be present in the moment.
Vata’s can find balance and feelings of being grounded by…
Practice waking up at sunrise and going to bed at the same time each night - you need to aim for at least 8 hours of restful sleep
Daily self-massage with warm oils, paying extra attention to the soles of your feet
Avoid overstimulation and take time for daily reflection and stillness.
Ayurveda has the view that people should practice stimulating exercise up to the point of producing a mild sweat and not beyond. Exercises only for as long as you can comfortably breathe through our nostrils. Listen to yourself and your body and choose something appropriate for yourself. Don’t overdo any repetitive exercises that will stress one specific part of the body excessively.
Activities such as yoga, pilates, gentle cycling or brisk walking are ideal for Vata. Spending time in nature is incredibly helpful as all of your senses can become awakened and the mind is forced to refocus on the present moment.
Meditation and practicing rest and stillness are important to help balance the Vata person. Performing these activities barefooted will also allow them to feel closer to the actual earth for a literal feeling/practice of being grounded. Oiling the scalp and feet before bed will also help to calm the body’s nervous system and ground your energy as well to help you rest peacefully.
Don’t forget your other senses! The power of sound, sight, and smell can help to rebalance your mind and body. Kapha’s tend to get back in balance when experiencing the following sensations:
Slow rhythm, deep resonation, and wide vibrations
Sounds in nature that are subtle like the quiet flow of a gentle streamor gentle breeze
Benefits greatly from the practice of silence
Nature: Calming scenes where breezes can be felt, light noises
Stimulating colors: Green, yellow, gold, orange, brown
Stimulating aromas: Almond, basil, camphor, cardamom, cedar, cinnamon, lavender, rose, ylang ylang, saffron