The Balance of the Vata Dosha

Discovering what Vata can look like in and out of balance and how to support your personal balance

What does the Vata Dosha look like in and out of balance?

Like increases like. Opposite qualities bring balance.

What nurtures the Vata dosha?

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.

What does it look like when Vata is in balance?

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.  

What does it look like when Vata is out of balance?  

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…

  • Losing weight
  • Piercing pains or spasms
  • Rigidity and/or numbness
  • Cracking joints
  • Dry skin
  • Dark discolorations of the skin and bodily excretions
  • Painful or scant periods
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Racing houghts

A lack of Vata manifests as…

  • Feeling sluggish and lazy

What can get Vata out of balance?  

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…

  • Too much talking - both doing the talking and listening to others talk excessively
    Noise or other external stimuli in general can be very jarring for the Vata person
  • Travelling in excess or for too long
  • Not enough sleep each night or at the proper times (working all night and sleeping during the day)
  • Too much swimming or time in the water
  • Exposure to cold or windy climates
  • Stressful situations - worries, work experiences, or emotional imbalances

Maintaining Balance as a Vata

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.  

Vata Balancing Diet

Tips for Vata Dosha Types or those experiencing a Vata imbalance

In general, some diet tips that have been helpful for Vata's include…

  • Eat at regular times and to less than full
  • Practice relaxation - rest your fork in between bites, avoid screen time
  • Emphasis foods that are warm, soupy, heavy, and oily
  • Reduce…

foods that are cold, dry, hard,
foods that are very spicy, bitter, or astringent

  • Avoid…

yeast, refined sugars, coffee, tea, tobacco
drugs, poor-quality oils and extremely spicy foods

  • Supplement your diet with ojas building foods such as chyawanprash, dates, soaked almonds, raw milk, and ghee.

Focus on tastes that are balanced to Vata.  These would include…

  • Heavy, moist, cooling, stable, and soft
  • Foods like…

Honey, Ghee, dates, root vegetables, nuts, chicken
Wheat, oats, rice

  • These types of foods will…

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

  • Creates moisture and heat because these foods are wet, heavy, and hot
  • Foods like…

Soy sauces, tamari, miso

  • These types of foods will…

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

  • Hot, heavy, moist, and stable
  • Foods like…

Sour fruits - lemons, limes, amla

Fermented foods like cultured yogurt, tempeh, sourdough bread, pickles

Vinegar or other acids like citric, lactic ascorbic

  • These types of foods will…

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.

Minimize your intake of the following tastes:

  • These foods have similar natural qualities to Vata - rough, drying, light, and cold.  These foods are made of the same air and ether elements as the dosha.  
  • Try to avoid or limit foods like bitter greens (kale, dandelion greens, collard greens), bitter melon, eggplant, dark chocolate, cumin, saffron, or turmeric.
  • These types of foods tend to soak up moisture in the body which the Vata desperately needs to keep.  
  • They also tend to add more air/space to the body which Vata already has.  Not only would that appear as gas or bloating, but can also lead to increased fear, anxiety, or feelings of being flighty or foggy.
  • This is the driest of the tastes as it’s made up of earth and air.
  • These foods tend to have a drying effect and can cool down the already cold Vata and put them into a state of imbalance; especially their digestive system by dimming the digestive fire(agni).
  • This taste can also cause rigidity, pain in the chest, constipation, and excess gas for a Vata.
  • These foods carry the Vata aggravating qualities of being light, hot, rough, and dry which will only increase the presence of Vata.
  • Try to avoid or limit your portions of spicy foods like chiles, radishes, turnips, or raw onions.
  • These foods would have an over drying effect on bodily fluids, cause constipation, dizziness, thirst, and overall excessive dryness.

Vata Balancing Foods

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…

  • Warm over Cold
  • Light and Airy over dense and heavy
  • Dry over most and oily
  • Rough over smooth
  • Rice (basmati, brown, wild), wheat, oats (cooked) and quinoa are very good
  • Amaranth is fine in moderation, but reduce barely, corn, millet, buckwheat and rye as these are a little drying leading to difficulty with digestion and increase in wind (gas).
  • Avoid all beans, except for…

Marinated tofu
Mung beans
Red lentils, occasionally  

  • Asparagus and spirulina are considered to be superfoods for the Vata’s diet.
  • Avocado, beet, cucumber, carrot, sweet potato, and seaweeds are the best.
  • Peas, cabbages, and leafy green vegetables, summer and winter squashes and potatoes are best well cooked in oil or ghee with mild digestive spices.
  • Avoid the nightshade family unless potatoes are cooked as mentioned above.
  • Raw vegetables, especially onions, should also be avoided as these all will create wind.
  • Favor sweet, sour, or heavy fruits such as berries, banana, grapes, cherries, all citrus fruit, fresh fig, peach, melon, plum, fresh dates, pineapple, mango, and papaya.
  • Cooked apples and pears are fine for Vata 
  • Soaked prunes and raisins should be eaten in moderation.
  • Try to avoid the following as they can create excess wind (gas)

Dried fruits
Uncooked apple and pear

Nuts & Seeds
  • All are good in moderation especially when soaked
  • Most seafood is fine.
  • Chicken and turkey are fine.
  • Beef should be avoided as it is difficult to digest.
  • All dairy products are nourishing, particularly yogurt
  • Don’t take milk with a full meal or with fruit
  • If intolerant, substitute with almond or rice milk
  • Avoid ice cream, powdered milks, and soy milk
  • All oils reduce dryness and are nourishing
  • Cook with plenty of ghee to moisten ‘dry’ foods
  • Emphasize hemp, sesame, olive, sunflower, and flax
Herbs & Spices
  • All are fine! Particularly helpful to Vata are…

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. 

  • Avoid all refined white sugar
  • All are good!  Especially…

Barley Malt
Maple Sugar

Vata Balancing Beverages

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 Balancing Practices

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.

Physical Activity to help Balance Vata

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.

Mental and Emotional Practices to help Balance Vata

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.  

Sense Therapies for Balancing Vata

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

Learn more about the Vata Dosha

Learn more about...

The Vata Dosha Profile

What is Vata Season? Ayurvedic Seasonal Guide

What is a Vata Diet?

Vata Support and Tools

Ayurvedic Seasonal Food List

Ayurvedic Morning Routine