What does Vata Dosha Mean?
As you may already be aware, in Ayurvedic terms we are all given our Doshas, or constitutional types at conception. This is your blueprint, and will affect your physical body, your emotions, your likes and dislikes and the many other things that make you uniquely you. The blueprint tends to remain fairly constant over your lifetime, so it is important to ascertain which of the three applies to you. Once you know this, you will able to make choices regarding diet and exercise routines that support your constitution and help to keep your systems healthy and balanced.
Character of the Vata Dosha Type
Vata corresponds to air and space, sometimes referred to as “ether”. In this respect Vatas can sometimes give the impression of being “airheads” in as much as they may have difficulty remembering things, have short attention spans and flit from one interest to another in a seemingly random way. Vatas are also prone to feeling jittery and wound up and may feel tired quite early on in the day. They are usually quick to learn and are often creative, active, alert and restless. They show great enthusiasm for new projects but often have difficulty sustaining their interest, so they make much better starters than finishers. Vata types love nature and have a real affinity for the outdoors. They are also spiritually perceptive and others may describe them as having their heads in the clouds. In balance a Vata personality will have at least some of the following characteristics: friendly, vivacious, joyful and open-minded. They also usually have good circulation, balanced digestion and an even body temperature.
Physical Characteristics of the Vata Dosha Type
Vatas are very often slim, even bony and have straight body shapes. They have a tendency to gain weight around the middle and their skin is often fine and dry. Vata types feel the cold more than others and do not tend to sweat much. Vata is the primary moving force in the body, just as the wind moves things in nature and according to Ayurveda it is responsible for our adaptability on both a physical and mental level. Vata governs our nervous system and the senses of touch and hearing. Vata types may have hypermobile joints, light colored eyes and a lack of symmetry in their bodily frame. Facially they have delicate features, and the lack of symmetry may also appear here, with the nose or mouth appearing either too big or too small.
In Ayurvedic terms the “qualities of Vata are: active, clear, rough, dry, light, cold and mobile. Tastes are for astringent, bitter and pungent foods.
Typical Vata Dosha Disorders
If you are a Vata type you may well suffer from exhaustion and fatigue when Vata is out of balance. You may become forgetful and unable to concentrate, anxious and frazzled with occasional poor circulation and constipation.
Other indicators that your Vata is not balanced include:
- Irregular appetite
- Dry cough and hoarse throat
- Restless legs
- Tics, hair pulling, compulsive tapping or ”knee jigging”
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep
- Stiff muscles and joints
- Difficulty swallowing.
Health tips for Vata Dosha Types
Dietary Tips to Help Balance Vata Dosha:
Choose foods that are in general salty, sweet or sour in taste. The tastes should help to increase the qualities of warmth and moisture, which may be lacking if your Vata Dosha is not in balance.
Try to eat more of the following fruits and vegetables: peaches, guava, grapefruit, oranges, ripe bananas, mangoes, butternut squash, cooked carrots, spinach and sweet potatoes. Include yoghurt and soft cheeses in your diet, along with sweeteners such as rice and maple syrups. Eat rice, quinoa and oats, along with pulses, nut butters and salted nuts.
Avoid foods that are very bitter or astringent in taste as these will bring more Vata into your system and cause “overload” when you are not feeling well.
Vata Body Type recommended foods are:
Sweet fruits such as bananas, coconuts, apples, figs, grapefruits, grapes, mangos, melons, oranges, papayas, peaches, pineapples, plums, berries, cherries, apricots, and avocados.
Dried fruits can also be eaten, but not too much. The following general rule applies to fruit consumption: at least one hour before or after meals, but not in the evening.
Cooked: asparagus, red beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, radish, zucchini, spinach (small quantities), sprouts (small quantities), tomatoes (small quantities), celery, garlic, and onions (only steamed).
Oats (boiled), brown rice, wheat.
Eggs & Meat
Eggs (omelets/scrambled eggs), fish, chicken, and other white meat.
No beans, with the exception of mung beans and black lentils.
Jaggery (dried sugar cane juice), brown sugar.
All spices, peppers, and chili in small quantities.
Milk Products & Substitutes
Ghee (clarified butter), fresh milk, paneer; soy milk and tofu as a substitute.
All organic oils.
Lifestyle Tips for Balancing Vata Body Type
Try to incorporate a regular morning routine of gentle stretching and movement, such as Yoga or Tai Chi into your day. Always eat your food warm and take warm baths or showers, avoiding the extremes of hot and cold. Take a 30 minute nap if you can and switch off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed.
Vata Body Type Combinations
If you are a Vata-Pitta Type you would be best to follow two regimes to pacify and support your Doshas. In general, practice Vata pacifying activities during the colder months or seasons and Pitta pacifying regimes during the hotter part of the year.
However, no individual ever has a perfect 50/50 split in their dominant Dosha, so you will need to adapt accordingly. It is natural that our predominant Dosha increases more quickly so if you know that you are basically a Vata type with Pitta attributes just be aware that you may need to balance the cold, dry aspects of Vata with the hot and oily qualities of Pitta at least some of the time.
Ayurveda is a very pragmatic system to apply to our health and well-being, and almost anything can be used as a medicine to help with Dosha imbalances. For example, smells, herbs, colors and environments can all be pressed into service to support and balance your Doshas, the trick lies in becoming self- aware and observant and in taking your own feelings seriously. Do regular meditations or meditative practices where you check in with your body and scan it both emotionally and physically. Notice areas where you are holding tension or feeling discomfort and ask yourself whether you have altered your diet or lifestyle recently. Once you begin to notice the correspondences between behaviour, environment, eating or drinking habits and your overall state of health you are in a powerful position to bring everything back into balance and to live the healthy, fulfilled and pain free life you deserve.