A Comprehensive Ayurvedic Guide to Understanding and Optimising Vata Dosha

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Post General Health/Immunity

JANUARY 3, 2022

Vata Dosha Guide: Things You Need to Know

Introduction to Ayurveda

Ayurveda is the ancient science that holds traditional knowledge and secrets to life as we know it passed over from hundreds of generations. The most relevant of which is the maintenance of our physical, social, and psychological well-being. Our surroundings undergo temporal changes of day and night, weather, seasons, exposure to sunlight, and more such natural occurrences throughout the year. In order to adapt and accommodate ourselves to these natural changes, our bodies require us to make certain adjustments to ensure we are in sync with our surroundings. Ayurveda acts as a guide on how to optimize our health and well-being by attunement of our bodies to our surroundings. While chasing our modern lifestyles and the ever prevalent hustle culture, we often forget to take care of our physical and mental health. With the onset of the pandemic, it has become even more important to shift the focus back on our health and ensure that we listen to our body and the changes it demands concerning the transitions in the natural world. 

Tridosha Theory in Ayurveda

According to the study of Ayurveda, the human body comprises three principal energies or Tridoshas: Vata dosha, Pitta dosha, and Kapha dosha. Just as every other natural occurrence in the world, these energies or humors emerge out of the Panchamahabhuta or five elements in nature: Air, Water, Space, Earth, and Fire. Each dosha is a unique manifestation of these elements, which direct the course of our lives and ensure optimum functioning of our bodies. Vata dosha is responsible for all bodily movements and flows such as absorption, nervous system conduction, bodily excretions, breathing, and cognition. The Pitta dosha bears the responsibility of biochemical and metabolic processes such as digestion and imparting warmth to the body, resulting in the generation of heat and energy. Kapha Dosha offers stability, support, and structural integrity to the body by synthesizing the building blocks of the body. Based on their constituting elements, each of the Tridoshas is associated with different seasons resulting in certain character traits in each individual. The amount of balance in the optimal values of the three doshas determines the resultant character traits in people. 

Vata Dosha: What is Vata Dosha in Ayurveda?

Vata dosha is the air or wind dosha and thus originates from the air and space elements. According to Ayurveda, Vata dosha plays a crucial and principal role in the body as it controls both the Pitta and Kapha dosha. Both doshas are rendered passive without the Vata dosha since it is the only active dosha, facilitating movement throughout the body. It enables all the major and minor functions within the body to be executed smoothly across cells, tissues, mind, organs, and senses. The Vata dosha exists throughout the human body in the form of five interrelated vayus or sub doshas that together enable day-to-day functioning. These five vayus are prana vayu, samana vayu, vyana vayu, udana vayu, and apana vayu. Each type of Vayu has its role, flow, and assigned functions.  

  • Prana dosha: It is known as the life force energy and the primary air. It moves through the head, chest, and throat and is centered in the brain. It looks after our brain, breath, and heart by governing the reception processes of inhalation, swallowing, heartbeat, mind-body connection, etc.

  • Udana dosha: It is located in the chest area and centered in the throat. Since it is an upward movement of air, it takes care of our outward expression systems such as the respiratory system, voice, speech, exhalation, phonation, and more. Along with that, it is also responsible for strength, immunity, and good memory. 

  • Vyana dosha: this sub dosha is centered in the heart and takes care of overall circulation. It is the diffusive or pervasive air distributed throughout the body. Since it is centered around the heart, it regulates our emotions, sensory movement, nerve impulses, and muscle contractions. 

  • Samana dosha: it is located in the digestive system between the chest and navel region and has its center in the small intestine. Known as an equalizing or balancing air, it helps to ensure gut health and maintain a balanced digestive system. 

  • Apana dosha: This is the downward movement of air. It is centered in the colon and is in charge of different impulses that move downward. Some of these impulses governed by the Apana are Elimination, urination, menstruation, and sexual activity. 

Vata Dosha Body Type

Along with maintaining our physical health and well-being, the amount of balance in the optimal values of the doshas also determines certain physical features and character traits in an individual. Ayurveda suggests that each individual has a different combination of the Vata, pitta, and Kapha doshas in their bodies. The dominant presence of one or two doshas among the three determines the resultant combination. Just as the presence or absence of certain antigens determine different blood types in individuals, similarly, the balance, abundance, or lack thereof of any of the doshas results in unique physical features and character traits. 

Physical Features of Vata Dominant People

The physical character traits associated with dominant Vata dosha types are slimmer build, narrow shoulders, petite facial features, thinner skin and hair prone to dryness and frizziness, and cold hands and toes. 

Character Traits Associated With Vata Dominant People

Vata dominant individuals share some common character traits which are determined by the dominant presence of the Vata dosha in their individual compositions.

Since the Vata dosha originates from the air and space elements, Vata dominant individuals are like the wind and are constantly on the go. They’re known for their quick movements, actions and multi-tasking abilities. Such individuals are quick minded, creative and could be interested in creative activities such as art, dance or music. Their creative traits are paired with a quest for knowledge and a desire to learn new concepts. When at their best, Vata dominant people are joyful and full of enthusiasm.

Some of their less desirable traits include irregular sleeping patterns, anxiety generated due to problems with the nervous system, low stamina, and variable appetite.

Vata Dosha Shifting from Optimum Levels: Ultimate Vata Dosha Treatment and Vata Symptoms

In our day-to-today lives, it is not possible for our doshas to always be in balance. The possibility of imbalances in the doshas has further increased due to Covid-19.

According to Ayurveda, an individual experiences dosha imbalance when one or more doshas is not in their optimum value and in accordance with the unique dosha constitution of the body. Your predominant dosha is most likely to be the one to get imbalanced as compared to others. Since Vata dosha is the most prominent and high functioning of all the doshas, it can be imbalanced easily. An imbalance in the Vata dosha can cause immense physical and psychological distress to the body and mind. Autumn and winter are known as the Vata seasons.

Thus it is only natural that Vata dosha imbalance insinuates coldness, dryness, and roughness. Some of the common Vata dosha symptoms that can indicate an imbalance in the optimal value of the Vata dosha in an individual are:

  • Skin: Flaky and brittle skin, dry lips and hair, peeling nails 

  • Energy: Constant feeling of fatigue and sluggishness due to low energy 

  • Mental health: Anxiety, nervousness, forgetfulness, overthinking,  and constant feeling of restlessness

  • Circulation: Poor blood circulation overtly visible through twitches, tremors, and spasms 

  • Digestion: Dryness in the digestive system leading to constipation, bloating, gas, dehydration, irregular appetite and irregular digestion. 

  • Sleep: insomnia or light and interrupted sleep  

  • Weight: low weight and inability to gain weight 

Ayurvedic Vata Dosha Diet for Vata Optimisation

Ayurveda offers a plethora of solutions and remedies to remedy an imbalance in any of the Tridoshas.

A crucial part of our health and well-being is dependent on the diet and food that we intake on a daily basis. It is common knowledge that good food is wise medicine. Ayurvedic texts have time and again emphasized the importance of following a diet in accordance with an individual’s dosha constitution. For people with a Vata body type, following a Vata pacifying diet can do wonders for their overall health and can even restore an imbalance in the optimal dosha levels. Since the Vata season is marked by dryness and coldness, adopting a season-specific balanced Vata diet can help alleviate any imbalance along with restoring immunity and strength.

Some of the foods that can help neutralize Vata dosha symptoms and restore or maintain the optimal level of doshas are:

  • Proteins such as eggs, milk, tofu boost metabolism and strengthen the body.  

  • Dairy products such as ghee, milk, and butter can help improve digestion.

  • Fruits and Vegetables Green, sweet, and bitter fruits and vegetables such as zucchini, brussel sprouts, avocados, dates, figs, sweet potato, limes, papaya, grapefruits, and grapes are rich in nutrients and provide hydration.

  • Legumes and grains such as rice, barley, oats wheat, chickpeas, and lentils significantly aid in balancing vata by activating important enzymes and providing fiber. 

  • Nuts and Seeds Daily intake of small amounts of nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and coconut enhances body mass and strength which can be affected in a state of vata imbalance. You can make several Vata diet recipes using nuts and seeds.

Ayurvedic Remedies for Vata Optimisation

Indeed, an ayurvedic diet based on your dominant dosha can significantly help to maintain overall health. Ayurveda also suggests several natural remedies to restore the optimal levels of Vata dosha.

  • Ginger(Zingiber officinale): Regular consumption of ginger can reduce joint pain and improve muscle strength, thus restoring the optimal levels of the Vata Dosha. Ginger is a natural herbal remedy that can be consumed as a spice, natural extract, herbal tea, or in the form of capsules.

  • Cardamom(Elettaria cardamomum) Cardamom is a super spice that is beneficial for all three doshas. It can significantly aid in digestion while reducing bloating and gas, thus being beneficial in pacifying Vata imbalance. Cardamom can be consumed as a spice, added in teas. Cardamom seeds can be chewed raw and also reduce foul breath.  

  • Turmeric(Curcuma Longa) - Turmeric or Haldi is often used in South Asian cuisine and Ayurvedic remedies. It boosts metabolic rate, increases circulation, and heart rate. Curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties, which pacify Vata imbalance. Turmeric can either be consumed as a spice in the form of turmeric powder or as a supplement in the form of capsules.

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Ashwagandha is a herb that has been consumed as an ayurvedic remedy by people since ancient times. Ashwagandha powder reduces the level of cortisol, brings down stress levels, alleviates anxiety, and treats insomnia due to its rejuvenating and Vata pacifying properties. Thus it is extremely beneficial for people with an aggravated Vata dosha. It can be consumed in powder form and be added to a glass of milk or in the form of chyawanprash, an immunity-boosting jam. 

  • Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)  is an ayurvedic herb that has anxiety-relieving properties and helps balance emotions. It also improves attentiveness and quality of sleep. All these benefits can help reduce Vata dosha imbalance. It can be consumed in the form of fresh juice, churna, capsule, or tablet in limited quantities. 

Lifestyle Changes For Vata Dosha

Vata imbalance can also take place due to certain lifestyle choices, routines, and habits such as excess traveling, overwork, irregular meal times, and sleeping patterns.

It is important that we accommodate certain dosha-specific health practices along with an ayurvedic diet to maintain a healthy balance of doshas and ensure physical and mental well-being. Ayurveda suggests certain lifestyle changes that can be paired with a Vata balancing diet and can be easily accommodated in a Vata dominant individual’s daily routine or dincharya. 

  • Exercise:  since the Vata dosha is characterized by movement and irregularity, light forms of exercises such as yoga, walks, stretching, swimming on a regular basis can be extremely beneficial for Vata dominant individuals. People with a Vata dosha imbalance experience acute stress, anxiety, fatigue, and restlessness. Regular exercise can significantly improve core energy levels, mindfulness, focus and bring about a sense of calmness. 

  • Abhyanga: Abhyanga massage is a process of applying hot Ayurvedic oil to the body and massaging each body part.

    Vata dominant people should perform abhyanga either daily or thrice a week to promote healing and well-being. Incorporating Abhyanga into our daily routine(Dincharya) can improve blood circulation, regulate sleep, improve digestion, and reduce anxiety. Oils for abhyanga should be selected in accordance with one’s dominant dosha type.

    Herb-infused natural oils such as almond oil and sesame oil are best suited for Vata dominant individuals as they are more heating and heavy, contrasting the coldness, roughness, and dryness elements of Vata dosha. 

  • Meditation:  meditation can help individuals achieve a deep state of relaxation and mindfulness. By focusing our attention and gathering our scattered thoughts, meditation allows people to think clearly, improve concentration, and achieve a sense of calmness. Due to the predominance of air and space elements, Vata dominant people experience troubles with concentration and focus. They tend to be overthinkers and find it difficult to be stationary for long periods of time. Meditation is thus extremely beneficial for these Ayurvedic body types.

    It can also help to restore an imbalance in the optimal levels of the Vata dosha by reducing stress, anxiety, improving memory, and combating feelings of restlessness and fatigue.

  • Healthy sleep cycle: A study conducted by Shirley Telles et al. suggests that the Tridoshas can influence the quality and quantity of sleep.
    According to the study, people with a dominant Vata dosha constituency took a longer time to fall asleep and reported a lesser feeling of being rested in the morning. Ayurveda suggests that in order to maintain a healthy sleep cycle, at least 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night is important. Vata dominant individuals should perform abhyanga before sleeping.
    They should also avoid screen time at least one hour before bedtime and use products consisting of essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, or chamomile to help reduce stress and achieve a sense of grounding. 

  • Stress-reducing activities: stress has an all-encompassing negative effect on the body. It can affect digestion, mood, memory, muscle strength, alertness, concentration, and overall health. Prolonged stress can even result in hypertension, cholesterol, increased heart rate, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and more. It is extremely important that we engage in day-to-day stress-relieving activities in order to relax and alleviate physical and mental exhaustion brought upon by stress. Recreational activities such as listening to music, dancing, painting, watching a movie, spending quality time with loved ones, or even going out for a walk can have a drastic impact on reducing daily stress levels.

Bodily Harmony And Balance Of Doshas For Healthy Life

The aftermath of the covid- 19 pandemic has made us realize just how important it is to give due importance and attention to our physical and mental well-being.

Aggravated levels of stress, anxiety, and increasing health concerns are indicators of the negative impact of our hectic lifestyles and packed schedules with no time for rest or rejuvenation. Ayurveda offers simple and accessible solutions to all these concerns. In Ayurvedic understanding, the solutions to these concerns are the maintenance of bodily harmony and balance of doshas. A balance in the optimal values of the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha can ensure harmony in our entire life.

Once we figure out our body constitution and our dominant dosha, we can easily incorporate ayurvedic diets, remedies, and lifestyle changes into our daily routines.

FAQs

1. What are vata dosha symptoms?

Some of the common symptoms of an alleviated vata dosha are:

  • Constant feeling of fatigue and sluggishness due to low energy 

  • Anxiety, nervousness, forgetfulness, overthinking,  and constant feeling of restlessness

  • Poor blood circulation overtly visible through twitches, tremors, and spasms 

  • Dryness in the digestive system leading to constipation, bloating, gas, dehydration, irregular appetite and irregular digestion. 

  • insomnia or light and interrupted sleep  

  • low weight and inability to gain weight 

  • Flaky and brittle skin, dry lips and hair, peeling nails 

2. What is vata dosha in ayurveda?

According to the study of Ayurveda, the human body comprises three principal energies or Tridoshas: Vata dosha, Pitta dosha, and Kapha dosha. Vata dosha is responsible for all bodily movements and flows such as absorption, nervous system conduction, bodily excretions, breathing, and cognition. It originates from the Ether(space and air) element in nature and  controls both the Pitta and Kapha dosha. 

3. What are Vata pacifying foods?

A Vata balancing diet includes foods that help restore optimal values of vata dosha in the body. These foods include proteins such as eggs, milk, and tofu. Dairy products such as ghee, milk, and butter.

Green, sweet, and bitter fruits and vegetables such as zucchini, brussel sprouts, avocados, dates, figs, sweet potato, limes, papaya, grapefruits, and grapes. Legumes and grains such as rice, barley, oats wheat, chickpeas, and lentils. Lastly, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and coconut are foods that can maintain optimal levels of Vata Dosha or help pacify an alleviated Vata Dosha. 

4. Is Brahmi good for Vata dosha?

Brahmi is an ayurvedic herb that has anxiety-relieving properties and helps balance emotions. It also improves attentiveness and quality of sleep. With all these benefits it can help reduce vata dosha imbalance. It can be consumed in the form of fresh juice, churna, capsule or tablet in limited quantities. 

5. What are Vata dominant body type traits?

The physical traits associated with dominant Vata dosha types are slimmer build, narrow shoulders, petite facial features, thinner skin and hair prone to dryness and frizziness, and cold hands and toes.

Character traits of vata dominant types include multi-tasking abilities, creativity ,and desire to learn new concepts. Vata dominants are joyful and full of enthusiasm. Some of their less desirable traits include irregular sleeping patterns, anxiety generated due to problems with the nervous system, low stamina, and variable appetite. 

REFERENCES 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ayurvedic-diet

  2. https://www.1mg.com/ayurveda/ashwagandha-1

  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/pitta

  4. Shilpa, S, and C G Venkatesha Murthy. “Understanding personality from Ayurvedic perspective for psychological assessment: A case.” Ayu vol. 32,1 (2011): 12-9. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.85716

  5. Telles, Shirley et al. “Ayurvedic doshas as predictors of sleep quality.” Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research vol. 21 1421-7. 17 May. 2015, doi:10.12659/MSM.893302




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