Vata Dosha is the prime physical energy guiding all bodily movements and the motion of our body functions. Vata Imbalance can take toll on the functioning of our critical body systems such as Respiratory system, Reproductive System, and our Skin, and Mental Balance.
Vata Dosha is composed of Ether and Air out of the five basic elements. Vata is called the queen of the Doshas as it regulates the movement of both Pitta Dosha and Kapha Dosha.
Vata Dosha Characteristics
Vata Dosha gunas or properties are defined as:
Based on this, specific actions in terms of lifestyle practices, foods, and herbs can be categorised to be Vata increasing (aggravating) or Vata decreasing (pacifying).
Which Body Functions are influenced by Vata Dosha?
Vata Dosha is the energy for all movements in our body and mind, including thoughts. It is primary force, which affects all of our physical and mental functions in direct or indirect way. Following body functions are affected in directly by Vata Dosha:
- The respiratory system. Breathing as the movement of Prana inside the body.
- Hormone Balance through appropriate movement of hormones and their signalling to recipient tissues. Hence, Vata Imbalance is always the first Dosha behind women hormonal imbalance.
- Circulation such as movement of blood, lymph, nutrients, and toxins. Hence, health of the skin and hair, nutrition status, and immunity are dependent on balanced Vata.
- Elimination such as bowel movement, urination, and menstruation.
- Sensory perception, specifically related to Sound and Touch. Hence, skin and ears are mostly affected by Vata.
- Nervous system – Nervine impulses.
- Movement of Thoughts, Emotions, and Feelings.
- Signal processing and communication through vocal, muscular, and circulatory actions.
- Creativity in the form of utilisation of our thoughts or mind for a useful purpose.
What is Vata Dosha Balance?
A balanced Vata Dosha is exhibited in controlled external and internal motions such as:
- Efficient absorption and elimination of food and water. This means that a balanced Vata individual would be free from nutritional deficiencies, constipation, flatulence, colic pain, and urinary disorders.
- Hormone Balance in men and women. Hence, specifically for women – Healthy Menstrual cycle, good Fertility, smooth Menopause, smooth labour and delivery, and healthy pregnancy.
- Healthy blood pressure levels and relief from any coronary heart disease.
- Good physical energy level.
- High level of creativity, mental clarity, focus, and good memory.
- Absence of any kind of Anxiety, Nervousness, and Fear.
- Supple skin, strong bones, and lustrous hair.
What are the primary causes for Vata Imbalance?
Vata imbalance can occur due to various reasons involving Time, Ahara – Food and Vihara – Lifestyle, and Vichara – Mental State. Some of the reasons are listed below:
Kala – Time of the Day, Season, and Your Age affect Vata Balance
- Physical changes observed during Menarche, Menopause, and Post Delivery.
- Vata Dosha is active during the cold and dry months of Autumn season. This is the time, when it gets easily vitiated. Hence, one needs control consumption of cold and dry foods and limit irregularities in their daily schedules.
- Old age is related to the physical and mental aspects of Vata phase of life.
- During the day, Vata Dosha is active from 2 AM to 6 AM and from 2 PM to 6 PM. This is the time when Vata health disorders will show their symptoms to be slightly aggravated. For example, one would find early morning and early evening times when joint stiffness, pains, nervousness, anxiety build up.
Ahara – Food and Dietary Habits that cause Vata Imbalance
- Excessive consumption of old and leftover food
- Excessive consumption of Dry or raw food
- Insufficient food intake
- Eating very fast without proper chewing or ingestion in a standing position.
Vihara – Lifestyle Practices that cause Vata Imbalance
- Sudden or excessive changes in lifestyle involving meal composition, timings, and way of ingestion.
- Extreme climatic conditions involving very cold and hot temperatures.
- Multi-tasking – Involvement in multiple activities at the same time
Irregular schedule with untimely meals, erratic sleep and wake cycles.
- Suppression of urges such as urination, defecation, sneezing, belching, flatulence, and or sexual urges.
- Staying up late at night and insufficient sleep poorly affect our Circadian Rhythms leading to Vata Imbalance.
- Overexertion of the body through physical work or exercise.
Vichara – Mental State affects Vata Balance
- Excessive Stress and Anxiety
- Worry, fear, and loneliness
- Sadness and trauma
- Overstimulation of the senses
Health Problems due to Vata Dosha Imbalance
Vata Dosha gets easily vitiated and leads to havoc on critical body systems when one conducts activities and consumes foods that are not health promoting.
An unbalanced Vata Dosha exhibits as Erratic Motion, Roughness, Dryness, Hardness, Excessive Flow, Low flow, or Blocked flow of fluids and matter in the body. Excessive, sharp, and throbbing pains in the head, stomach, or other affected body parts.
Health Issues of Vata Imbalance in Women
The primary body organ or seat of Vata Dosha is the colon and pelvic cavity. Hence, Vata Dosha is responsible for all eliminatory functions. Any disturbance in Vata Dosha leads to health disorders such as constipation, flatulence, urinary incontinence, prolonged labour, and irregularities.
- Irregular Menstrual cycle, Absence of Menstruation, Excessive Menstrual pain, and Menstrual Disorders.
- Hormonal Imbalance – Ovarian Cysts, Hypothyroidism, Hot Flashes, PMS, and Menopausal Syndrome.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Low libido and lack of interest in sex and intimacy
- Poor Fertility and inability to hold the fetus.
- Prolonged Labour, Excessive Constipation during and after pregnancy
- Organ prolapse such as uterus and vagina
- Skin dryness externally and thinness of vaginal walls
- Emotional hypersensitivity and Crying Spells
Vata Imbalance causes Accelerated Aging in young and Health complications in Elderly
Vata Dosha is active in physical body during later years in life, ideally from 55 years onwards. That’s why any aggravation in Vata Dosha leads to musculoskeletal pains, bone weakness, and anxiety tendency.
- Poor Bone Health , and Tendency for fractures
- Anxiety, Nervousness, Fear, Loneliness, and Spaciness
- Loss of taste buds sensitivity. Hence, inability to experience all the tastes and stimulations of food, smell, and noise.
- Hearing problems and vocal problems.
- Loss of hair, thinness of hair, and bald patches.
- Organ prolapse
- Emotional hypersensitivity
- Joint pain, Arthritis, and back pain involving Lumbago and Sciatica
- Neuromuscular disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease
- Poor skin tone, wrinkles, excessive dry skin and lips
- Brittle nails, crooked teeth, and irregular shape of body
- Poor Immunity, Allergies, and regular infections
Poor Nervous System Health, Low Memory, and Focus
Vata Dosha guides the functioning of nervous system through nervine impulses. All the health issues related to nervous system originate with vitiated Vata.
- Poor Memory, Inability to recall and remember the things
- Lack of focus and inability to pay attention to the details
- Fidgetiness and restless experienced in terms of daily thoughts and long term behaviour
- Hyperactivity in children and health issues related to ADHD
- Highly emotional and vulnerable to surroundings and people. Lack of focus and emptiness in thoughts.
- Insomnia in the form of inability to sleep.
Irregular Appetite, Poor Metabolism, And Constipation
- Dryness in terms of constipation and irregular bowel movement.
- Dry and hard stools
- Lack of sweating
- Excessive weight loss or weight gain (when unbalanced Vata displaces Kapha)
- Gas, Bloating, Distention, Constipation, Flatulence, and IBS.
- Malabsorption of Nutrients
Tips for Vata Dosha Balance with Diet, Lifestyle, Herbs, and Yoga
As easy it is to get unbalanced; it is also easy to come back in place by following a simple rule of discipline and regularity.
The guiding principle of balancing Vata Dosha is as simple as practicing directly opposite characteristics of Vata. Ayurveda prescribes numerous methods involving dietary changes, lifestyle practices, yoga and pranayama routines, meditation, and external treatments of massage, and aromatherapy.
Vata Diet – Foods, Herbs, and Dietary Habits to Balance Vata
Vata diet involves timely, nutritious, and unctuous meals. Vata diet and foods are balanced by proper use of spices and herbs. This ensures good assimilation of heavy food items.
Include and Increase these foods in Vata Diet
- Prefer smaller meals during the day and do not hold hunger. Timely meals at fixed time everyday should be taken.
- Warm and unctuous foods such as porridges, curries, gruels, and soups should be taken.
- Include Sweet, Sour, and Salty tastes with strong preference for naturally sweet and unctuous foods.
- Pure oils such as Sesame, Ghee, or Flaxseeds oil should be added to food.
- Sweet, Sour, and Juicy fruits such mango, grapes, lemon, oranges, melon, papaya, ripe banana, coconut, watermelon, plums, peaches, pineapple, Avocado, and Berries.
- Dried fruits, nuts, and seeds should be eaten in moderation.
- Include spices and herbs to maintain healthy digestive fire and to get the micronutrients. Prefer herbs such as saffron, carom seeds, celery seeds, fennel, cumin, ginger, turmeric, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and lemon grass.
What Foods and Dietary Habits should Vata Avoid and Reduce?
- Vata carries an Astringent and Bitter taste, hence such foods as beans, lentils, raw green leafy vegetables, and raw cruciferous vegetables should be avoided. Cooked greens and cruciferous can be consumed in moderation.
- Remove heavily pungent and sweet foods. Both of these are the prime dietary factors that lead to Vata increase.
- Remove cold temperature foods and drinks.
- Limit or stop raw foods such as salads.
- Remove light, spicy, dry, and fried foods such as popcorn, chips, and crackers, crunchy snacks etc.
Lifestyle Practices for Vata Balance
- The most important act to balance Vata includes a scheduled lifestyle. Establish and follow a daily routine of activity, sleep, and food intake.
- Sleep of 8-9 hours is required. Do not hold on to sleep and do not reduce sleeping hours.
- Remove all the Vata aggravating factors.
- Regular self-massage by warming oils such as sesame oil and ghee. In Ayurveda, it is known as Abhyanga.
Physical Activity for Vata Balance
- Calming and soothing activities such as swimming and walking in nature can help to relieve Anxiety, Nervousness, and Loneliness feelings.
- Excessive physical activity can lead to vata aggravation and related disorders. If one is suffering from Vata increase, they should practice lower intensity exercises.
- Pranayama, the discipline of breath is one of the best lifestyle act to balance Vata.
Yoga Poses for Vata Balance
Vata body benefits from strength building poses that emphasise balance and controlled breathing. It helps to calm down mobile and light characteristics of Vata.
Inversion yoga poses are contraindicated during menstrual cycle and during pregnancy.
Following yoga poses can help to relieve Vata Dosha and reduce the pain accompanying specific health condition. Various yoga poses with different level of intensity are included.
- Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation Sequence
- Adho Mukha Svanasana or Wall Push
- Tadasana – Mountain Pose
- Utkatasana – Chair Pose
- Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
- Savasana – Corpse Pose
- Marichyasana – Marichi’s Pose
- Balasana – Child’s Pose
- Halasana – Plow Pose
- Parsvakonasana – Extended Side Angle Pose
Pranayama for Vata Balance
Pranayama practices involve breathing exercises, which develop the life-force in the body. It promotes flow of energy, awaken the mind, and cleanse the body. Pranayama increases Agni, promotes heat, and increases flow of vital force of Prana through the body.
Following Pranayama techniques are recommended for Vata Dosha balance:
- Anuloma Viloma – Alternate Nostril Breathing
- Kapalbhati Pranayama – Head Shining Pranayama
- Bhastrika Pranayama
- Brahmari Pranayama – Humming Breath