Are You Vata – What is it?
According to Ayurveda, Vata dosha is the aspect of Nature’s intelligence responsible for movement, both in Nature and in our physiology. Vata is made up of the two elements space and air. The most revered ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita, defines the characteristics of Vata dosha: dry and rough (rookshaha); cool (sheetoha); light–lacking weight (laghuhu); very tiny, penetrating molecules (sookhshmaha); always moving (chalota); broad, unlimited, unbounded–akash means unbounded space (vishadaha); and rough (kharaha).
People with more Vata in their constitutions tend to be thin, with a slender frame and prominent joints, delicate skin that is naturally dry, and dry voluminous hair. They are quick and lively in thought, speech and action, and make friends easily. There is an element of airiness to their step, a quality of lightness in their laughter. Creativity and enthusiasm are hallmarks of balanced Vata.
If your prakriti or original constitution has more Vata in it, you will exhibit many of the characteristics and qualities of Vata when you are in balance than people who have more Pitta or Kapha in their make-up. In both cases, it is then time to follow a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle to help restore the level of Vata in the physiology to its normal proportion.
Factors that can cause Vata dosha to increase in the physiology include a diet that contains too many dry or raw foods, over-consumption of ice-cold beverages, exposure to cold dry winds, a variable daily routine, too much travel, and mental overexertion.
Vata season, which is characterised by cold, windy weather, runs in the UK from mid-September until around Christmas. During this period, Vata is more prominent in Nature so we tend to accumulate more Vata in our physiology. You may notice symptoms of Vata imbalance, or increased or aggravated Vata. Your mind may become more distractable, over-busy. You may have problems with sleeping – either difficulty getting off to sleep, or waking in the middle of the night.
You might have more wind in your stomach, and if you are prone to constipation it may be a time when there is more irregularity in bowel movements. Or, if you have irritable bowel you may find that this is playing you up more.If you are prone to back ache or neck ache, these are usually aggravated at this time too. Vata season is a time when you have to take care of your own Vata by looking at areas of life where you as an individual generate more Vata. Try not to go to bed late, which is a problem many suffer from in this society, as this causes increasing Vata as well.
Have a diet which helps to settle Vata. Stick to warm, soothing cooked food. Taking either fresh fruit or stewed fruit in the morning is good; particularly stewed fruits such as figs, prunes, apricots or raisins. The change of season is a good time to do Maharishi Panchakarma rejuvenation therapy to balance Vata and remove toxins from all parts of the body.
If you suffer from constipation, it may be good to take some Triphala with Rose in the evening. Triphala is a renowned Ayurvedic preparation for balancing elimination and for gentle internal cleansing and can be taken regularly over long periods. When the clocks change in October we are effectively going to bed an hour later, so it’s good to take a couple of weeks to make that hour’s change gradually, and not suddenly move your whole routine forward an hour. This change in time increases the Vata-aggravating effect of the Vata season. During the winter months it is even more important to keep to the 10 o’clock bed time if you don’t want to disturb the doshas. For people who have Vata disturbance it’s good to do this exercise during the Kapha times of the day, between 6 and 10 in the morning, 6 to 8 in the evening.