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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ayurvedic Healing: The Vata Dosha

If your body type looks the most like the ectomorph picture from yesterday's blog, you tend to have dry skin, experience cold hands and feet, and are introverted and creative with an active fantasy life- your dominant prakriti may be that of the vata dosha.

This dosha is comprised of air and space so there is a lightness and spaciousness to the prakriti. When balanced, this person often has a thin, light build (can be either very tall or quite short), performs activity quickly, is enthusiastic, vivacious, talkative and has an active imagination.

For a Vata person, mental and physical energy comes in bursts, without the steadiness some of the other doshas have. Vata's can be hungry at any time of day or night, love excitement and change, go to sleep at different times every night, skip meals and have irregular habits. They may be lanky and thin as adolescents (able to eat anything without gaining weight) and overweight in middle age with digestion difficulties. They can digest meals well one day and poorly the next, display bursts of emotion that are short-lived and quickly forgotten, and they love to multi-task. They even walk quickly.

When the vata person is not in balance, they tend towards worry, impatience and depression as well as loss of mental focus. They may experience insomnia or restlessness and an inability to relax. Physically, this imbalance may manifest as digestive problems (constipation or irritable bowel syndrome), high blood pressure, back and skeletal pain, intolerance to cold and wind, weight loss, and acute nerve pain.

In ayurvedic healing when a person is out of balance, it is usually because of "too much" of a dominant dosha such that it overrides the others. Because Vata is a cold dosha, cool weather, cold foods, and cool emotions can increase Vata. Dry seasons and environments can also increase the dry qualities of Vata so that skin becomes dry and chapped for instance.

A Vata individual does well with warm noruishing mushy foods like soups and stews althought "too heavy" foods or too much food at one sitting can disrupt their digestion. Salt, sour and sweet tastes all decrease Vata so should be predominant in the Vata person's diet. Vata types don't do as well with cold salads, iced drinks or raw vegetables as they do with slow-cooked casseroles, fresh-baked bread and fruit pies. Many Vata's have an energy slump in the late afternoon that can be balanced with a hot tea (non-caffeine- it can irritate) or some sweet food. Although sweet is good for Vata, refined sugar can create an energy and spike and crash that can be unsettling. Warm milk, grains and natural sweets are better for the dosha.

Although contrary to the Vata personality, a routine can be very beneficial to the person that is out of balance. Regular meals, regular low intensity exercise like walking or yoga, and rising and going to bed at the same time every day can help balance.

The key for a Vata person out of balance, is to take a look at their Vikriti- their current condition and see if it is grounding, moist, warming, smooth, oily and stabilizing. Those principles can be applied to emotions, food, exercise and the people around you! And to a good warm bowl of vegetable stew!!

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