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Dosha Guide: Vata

If your dosha is predominately Vata, this article will help you understand how to restore balance to an excess of Vata-energy with yoga, essential oils, pranayama and other lifestyle tips.

Space (ether) and air are the elements that constitute those with a predominantly Vata type. Just like the dominating elements, Vata qualities include light, dry, irregular, moving, quick and changeable.

Characteristics of Vata

Vata types are fast-moving and always on the go, with changeable moods. They experience short bursts of high energy, which is often followed by feelings of tiredness.

They tend to be light-framed often with prominent joints, dry skin and visible veins.

They have good mobility and are usually fast walkers and talkers, often with flurries of creative ideas and enthusiasm, which, if not acted on or noted down, tend to be forgotten at the same speed at which they arrived.

Vata types are warm, compassionate, and sensitive souls. They love excitement, and can be intuitive and creative. They can be quick to anger but equally quick to forgive and forget.

How to restore balance to Vata

Due to their make-up of air and ether elements, Vata types can become more easily imbalanced than the other two doshas (Pitta and Kapha).

When the natural state and qualities of Vata become increased, they can easily give rise to a number of physical and emotional markers including:

  • weight loss

  • hypertension

  • weakness or fatigue

  • restlessness

  • racing minds and scattered thoughts

  • light, interrupted sleep or insomnia

  • erratic appetite

  • feeling anxious and/or worried

  • difficulty concentrating or focusing on any one thing for longer than a few minutes

  • digestive issues

  • feeling out of control or overwhelmed

Restoring balance to Vata

To restore harmony to an excess of Vata energy, the aim is to focus on activities, foods, interactions, and experiences that are grounding, calming and hydrating.

  1. Make sure you have a good daily routine with regular rising times, bedtimes, mealtimes, and exercise

  2. Get enough sleep - try to be in bed regularly and before 11pm (10pm in winter)

  3. Wear lots of layers made up of natural fibres to keep out the cold

  4. Eat warming foods that are lightly spiced and aim for sweet, sour and salty tastes to increase warmth, moisture, and grounding, and to assist in healthy digestion

  5. Keep yourself well hydrated with plenty of warm drinks

  6. Use plenty of oils in your cooking including ghee, butter, olive and coconut

  7. Avoid raw food and cold drinks or ice drinks even in hot weather

  8. Avoid bitter, astringent and pungent tastes that can exacerbate dry, irregular digestion

  9. Choose exercises that are gentle and meditative instead of high-impact and high-energy

  10. Schedule enough time for yourself where you can cocoon yourself in silence and stillness

  11. Keep your body and mind calm by avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine

  12. A warm bath infused with soothing essential oils is a great self-care go-to

  13. Treat your body with at-home massages

  14. Be careful of imbalances around Autumn, which can be a vulnerable time as the weather is cool, dry and windy (the qualities of which increase Vata)

  15. If you're considering a holiday break, try somewhere warm and slightly humid

Yoga for Vata

A practice to restore balance for Vatas should be soothing, grounding, mindful and calming.

  • practice in a warm environment, possibly with dimmed lights

  • movements should be slower to help ease racing minds

  • sun salutations works well for Vata as they're often in need of warming, but only if practiced in a slow, steady way that emphasises stability and alignment

  • use standing and balancing postures to focus the attention

  • ensure that transitions between asanas are fluid and smooth instead of quick and jerky

  • forward folds can be beautifully calming and centring

  • try this short Vata-balancing sequence >

  • incorporate pranayama that is gently warming and grounding - nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breath), brahmari (humming bee breath) and simple extended exhalations 

^ This brief sequence intends to encourage you to move out of your busy, scattered mind and root you back into your body with slow mindful movements and balances

Essential oils for Vata

Essential oils that are warm, sweet, soothing and grounding will work beautifully to restore balance to Vatas that are feeling untethered, anxious and overwhelmed.

Add a few drops into a warm bath or give yourself a warm oil massage (known in Ayuerveda as abhyanga). Sesame oil is beautiful for Vata types.

Try oils or blends containing:

  • neroli

  • vetiver

  • sandalwood

  • patchouli

  • jasmine

  • frankincense


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