Welcome back fellow wellness seekers! As we return for the second part of this 4-part series on Ayurveda, we’ll be taking a closer look at the characteristics and traits of the Vata dosha.
Being captivated by Ayurveda typically means you've spent a decent amount of time contemplating exactly what doshas dominate who you are. You could simply seek out an Ayurvedic practitioner to assess your doshic balance and tell you what you're dominated by, but a lot of the people I’ve spoken to about Ayurveda recently had a similar theme in common, they had decided to take responsibility for their health into their own hands.
Someone who possesses a lot of Vata energy will do exactly that. That's because Vatas are the wind—they are quick movers and learners, while also being highly active. In Ayurveda, Vata is recognized as the King of the three doshas. This is due to its fast moving and nimble nature.
Before listing all the characteristics of the Vata dosha, let’s first recall the elements of Ayurveda. As we established in part 1 of this series where we talked about Kapha, the characteristics of each dosha are directly attributed to the elements from which they’re derived from and each person has their own unique doshic balance of these elements.
Vata = Air and Space
When we visualize the simplicity of air and space, we must also take into consideration the depth and vastness of both elements. Ask yourself, what is purer than the Air we breathe? What is more intriguing than the unknown regarding the space or ether that surrounds us? The same can be said about our Vata dominant friends, family and fellow humans.
The qualities of Vata tend to be represented by dry, light, mobile and clear substances. Someone who has a lot of Vata present, is imaginative and inspired at the core. The dynamics of these elements help to invigorate and motivate all that surround them, while easily becoming exhilarated within themselves.
Vata’s are spontaneous and unpredictable, as is the air which moves around us. Movement embodies the king of doshas.
On the other hand, like all things that move quickly, they potentially leave just as quick. Think about the wind—to us, there is a big difference between a light summer breeze and a gust but to the wind, it's just blowing. That's sort of how a pure Vata-type can be, moving pleasantly along in the day or completely whirlwinding a situation... then the storm stops and its gone.
Vata dominance can be easily misconstrued as quickly agitated and inconsistent. In a society that rewards predictability and steadiness, the vata type of energy may seem dismissed or unfavored but these types (especially when focused) learn quickly, move fast, and get a lot done. They tend to be natural leaders and always down to have a long talk.
If the vata energy transmits through the physical, we typically expect the individual to possess a lean body frame and a thinner, elongated face. They don't lose or gain weight very easily, even if it seems like they're hardly eating or always snacking.
With relatively small lips, eyes, and nose, a vata’s physical presence is often delicate and subtle.
Vata bodies love movement. They're fast, really fast (like the wind) and that energy is what drives the kinetic energy in the body.
Many also wonder how to recognize when vata is out of balance and more importantly the actions required to regain your baseline.
With the erratic nature of air at the helm, the typical vata human is known to be out of balance when they exhibit signs of anxiety, insomnia, or forgetfulness in conjunction with a spinning mind. You know this person—or maybe you are one—trying to sleep and your mind wanders and spins about tomorrow's to do list, today's problems, yesterday's frustrations... that's a classic vata out of balance.
While these feelings and indicators can often be identified as a need for vata or air balance by your Ayurvedic practitioner, if they're left untreated they can have a pretty serious impact on your health. Chronic insomnia, for instance, can have an impact on everything from heart health to your immune system to your appearance.
Physically, a vata imbalance can manifest as digestive troubles like diarrhea, irregular appetite, excessive thirst, and cravings for heavy or fatty foods. Dry, cracked hands, feet, and lips are all physical signs of vata as are cold hands and feet, lack of coordination, stiffness, and muscle aches.
So, if your Vata is out of balance, start with some basic activities to help bring your air brain back down to earth...
- Make yourself a routine. The wind can get so carried away by itself—and all the sudden it's two in the morning and all the furniture is rearranged (..anyone?). Set a "bed time" alarm or a "dinner time" alarm if you have to.
- Low impact Exercise. Yoga, tai chi, and hiking are all great exercises that increase balance and strength along with being relaxing.
- Stay warm and moisturized. Have you ever been outside in high winds? It’s chilling and drying. Vata people are sensitive to the cold and tend toward dryness.
- Pay close attention to your diet. This is important for everyone, but especially for the vata person because stimulants like caffeine and sugars are so highly available and they can exacerbate the vata tendencies in a person. Eating good fats and heavier foods can help to calm the vata wind.
- Meditate. Taking time to slow down, especially when you start to see your vata tendencies rise, can be helpful to quell an impending illness.