Vatas are full of energy and creativity. When the Vata dosha becomes imbalanced, however, they can become restless and suffer from digestive issues. Learn the physical and emotional characteristics of Vata and how to keep it in balance.
What Does Vata Mean?
The Vata dosha contains the properties of the elements ether and air. Vata is responsible for our energy and movement as well as for nerve impulses. Breath, speech, circulation, and digestion are all the manifestations of Vata.
Vata embodies the energy of movement and is therefore often associated with wind (and the air element). Vata is linked to creativity and flexibility; it governs all movement—the flow of the breath, the pulsation of the heart, all muscle contractions, tissue movements, cellular mobility—and communication throughout the mind and the nervous system.
Qualities of Vata:
Vata people love music and dance. They can relax well when listening to classical music, enjoy warm and gentle oil massages, and can forget themselves and the world in the process. A cozy ambiance and soft fabrics such as silk, silk-wool blend, and cotton on the skin provide for basic inner balance. The rooms they live in should radiate warmth and comfort. An easy chair or sofa with a soft fleece blanket helps them to relax quickly.
Understanding Imbalances in the Vata Dosha
Imbalances in the doshas are generally caused by unsupportive diet and lifestyle choices, as well as stress or emotional trauma. These disturbances tend to upset the natural state of internal equilibrium represented by one’s constitution. When the doshas become aggravated, each of them disrupts the body in its own unique way.
When out of balance, vata tends to cause fear, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and exhaustion. It can lead to both physical and energetic depletion, disrupt proper communication, and cause all sorts of abnormal movements in the body, such as tics, tremors, and muscle spasms.
Since the attributes of vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and clear, any of these qualities in excess can cause imbalance. Frequent travel, especially by plane, loud noises, continual stimulation, drugs, sugar, and alcohol all derange vata, as does exposure to cold and cold liquids and foods. Like the wind, vata types have a hard time becoming and staying grounded. Routine is difficult but essential if vata is to be lowered and controlled. It is best for vata types to go to bed by 10 PM as they need more rest than the other types. In general, people with excessive vata respond most rapidly to warm, moist, slightly oily, heavy foods. Steam baths, humidifiers, and moisture, in general, are helpful. Daily oil massage before bath or shower is also recommended.
How to Balance Vata
To balance Vata, make choices that bring warmth, grounding, stability, and consistency to your life.
Create a routine: Try to get to bed before 10 p.m., wake up by 6 a.m., and eat your meals at regular times. Learn more about how to build a routine for your dosha here.
Avoid becoming too cold: Wear adequate clothing appropriate for the season, drink warm stimulating beverages like tea, learn warming breathing exercises, and avoid cold beverages like smoothies or iced drinks.
Perform a vata oil massage using warmer, heavier oils like sesame and almond. Learn more about the benefits of a vata oil massage here.
Perform light exercise that enhances balance and flexibility. Take care not to push yourself too far and exceed the limits of your energy. Beneficial activities for Vatas include:
- Short hikes
- Light bicycling
- Light tennis
Regulate your digestion. Be certain that your digestion is optimal and your bowels move regularly on a daily basis. Learn more about how to improve your digestion here.
Favor warm colors. Color therapy plays a large effect on your health and mood. Favor warming colors in your clothing and environment such as earth colors, pastels, browns, and warm yellows. Learn more about color therapy here.
Nutritional Guidelines for Vata
One of the key ways to balance the doshas is through what we eat and drink each day, and just as importantly- how and when. Ayurveda really considers the right food and good digestion as being at the heart of good health. One nutrition rule applies above all others for Vata types: “Eat hot meals at regular times.” Such a rhythm will be very good for your digestion.
Avoid raw food, cold and frozen foods as much as possible, such as ice cream and iced drinks.
Favor foods that taste sweet, sour, and salty as these are most nourishing for you. Note that this doesn’t mean refined sugar but foods which are considered energetically sweet such as rice, spelled, Kamut, oats, quinoa, root vegetables, sweet fruits, and organic dairy
Increase your intake of good quality natural oils – hemp, sesame, olive, sunflower, and flax are all ideal. Cooking with butter and ghee helps to moisten dry foods but avoid fried and greasy foods.
Avoid stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, black tea, and fizzy drinks. They can all be aggravating for this type. Take plenty of warm water and spicy and relaxing herbal teas
Since Vata is drying, cooling, and light, you should favor foods that are oily, warming, or heavy. The best tastes to soothe Vata are sweet, salty, and sour. Minimize foods that are pungent, bitter, or astringent. Find a full food guide for Vata here.
General guidelines for balancing vata:
- Keep warm
- Keep calm
- Avoid cold, frozen or raw foods
- Avoid extreme cold
- Eat warm foods and spices (view vata food guide)
- Keep a regular routine
- Get plenty of rest
According to the Ayurveda, we are all ruled by three different energies, or doshas, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. These doshas are governed by the elements, earth, water, air, ether, and fire. We’re all made up of a unique combination of these three forces. If you don’t know which dosha is most predominant for you, the Ayurvedic Body Type quiz is a fun and easy way to find out.