Vata dosha governs movement in the body, our creative force, the activities of the nervous system and the process of elimination.
New to Ayurveda? Check out my Intro to Ayurveda article to discover your dośa.
Note: In Sanskrit, we spell it dośa. It is pronounced dosha. I will refer to it in this article as dosha to prevent future mispronunciations.
Qualities of Vata Dosha:
Vata dosha is air and space.
- Subtle (quick)
- Mobile (changing/moving)
If vata dośa predominates in your life, you are probably always on the go with an energetic and creative mind.
Remember, most people are composed of two different dośa. Very few people are tri-dośic and very few people only have one dośa. Take this quiz to figure out your dosha.
Becoming Unbalanced – A Normal Part of Life
Throughout our lives, our dośa become unbalanced. Ayurveda techniques and practices help us bring our dośa back into balance.
Being unbalanced is part of living a normal, healthy life.
We will always encounter situations and circumstances that are challenging and throw us off balance. For example, moving or changing jobs is a huge lifestyle shift that throws us off balance. There’s nothing wrong with moving or changing jobs. In fact, it can sometimes make us happier. But it can also throw us off balance.
Our job is to recognize when we are unbalanced and use yoga and Ayurveda tools to bring us back into balance. Every opportunity is simply a chance to explore and learn about the coolest person on the planet – YOU!
As yoga teachers and yoga therapists, when we can identify the dośa of our clients, we can help personalize their yoga practice with mudras, pranayama exercises and even specific asana poses to help bring balance.
Physically, people with high amounts of vata dosha are thin, have small, thin muscles, a small frame and may find it hard to gain weight. They are energetic but may experience sudden bouts of fatigue. Vatas typically have dry skin, fine hair, small, cracking joints and cold hands and feet. They sleep lightly and erratically and may often wake up between the hours of 2-6AM.
When vata dośa becomes unbalanced, it may manifest as constipation, arthritis, weakness, restlessness, anxiety and digestive issues.
Mentally, vata personalities are quick, adaptable and enthusiastic. They love new experiences and excitement. They may be quick to anger but also to forgive. When vatas are in balance, they are artistic, creative and adaptable. However, when unbalanced, they are prone to worry, anxiety, and fear. Unbalanced vata energy is ungrounded.
How to Balance Vata Dosha
When you start to feel out of control in your life, your vata energy may be unbalanced. This can lead to high anxiety and insomnia. Your digestion may become irregular and you start skipping meals. It’s important to notice these symptoms early so we can bring vata into balance.
Take time to slow down, meditate, eat regularly and go to bed earlier. A regular lifestyle routine helps ground vata so you’re not carried away on the wind.
Since vata is cold, light, dry and mobile (or constantly changing), balance vata by making choices that bring warmth, stability and consistency into your life. Set a regular bedtime routine, go to bed at the same time each night and eat your meals at regular times.
Avoid becoming chilled. Obviously this is hard in the winter months so keep your head covered and wear appropriate clothing.
Move daily to lubricate your joints. Light exercise like walking or yoga is enough to keep your joints supple and prevent arthritis.
Travel aggravates vata. Plan ahead for high travel days with grounding foods, yoga practices and meditations.
According to Ayurveda, it’s important to eat foods that have a balancing effect on vata to help stabilize the dosa when it’s excessive or aggravated. Since vata is dry, cool and light, you should eat foods that are oily, warm or heavy. (Don’t get too excited, it’s still not great to eat a whole dish of Mac N Cheese.) ?
The best tastes to stabilize vata dośa are sweet, salty and sour. Minimize foods that are pungent, bitter or astringent (like coffee).
Healthy fats and oils are beneficial to the vata digestive system. Add olive oil and ghee to all your recipes to help lubricate your joints and digestive system.
Use spices that pacify Vata including cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, cilantro, fennel, oregano, sage, thyme and black pepper.
Avoid eating frozen foods. They are dry, cold and light and can aggravate vata.
Avoid dry foods like crackers, excessive grains, dry fruit, etc. since they will increase dryness in vata.
Avoid white sugar and caffeine. (Good nutritional rules for everyone!)
Stick with warm, cooked meals for an aggravated vata dośa. Salads can be okay in the summer months but should be avoided in the winter or when vata is unbalanced.
Beans, cabbage, and brussel sprouts tend to produce gas and should be minimized, except for mung bean dahl.
For non-vegetarians, use fresh, organic chicken, turkey, seafood and eggs. Avoid red meat.
Yoga Teacher/Therapist Tips
Breathing practices and yoga classes should focus on grounding, centering and calming. Anything too quick or rapid can aggravate vata.
Meditation techniques for vata dośa should focus on auditory practices such as mantra, affirmations or hearing the breath. Vata dośa learns best through the auditory system as well so good verbal cues are important.
Discover ways to experience balance in all areas of your life at my Intro To Ayurveda Workshop.
- Identify your dosha and it's qualities
- Learn what foods best support your dosha for a balanced life
- Experience yoga practices and lifestyle routines best suited for your dosha
- Refine your digestion for a more comfortable life
- Receive recipes and learn how to cook for your dosha
Learn how to make ghee (the yogi's healing cure-all) and kitchari (the yogic "stew" for resetting oneself when out of balance).