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Living With Vata - 4 Ways to Balance Vata Dosha

Top Vata-Pacifying Tricks

I always say that trying to balance the Vata Dosha in Ayurveda is like working with a moving target. There is constant change, unpredictability and a tendency to get distracted by the next shiny, interesting thing that blows our direction....

Vata is a combination of the Air & Ether elements, which in their essence are dry, light, cold, rough, mobile and unstable. For this reason, those qualities often become present in a mind and body where Vata lives.

Read the following 4 tricks for keeping Vata in check as we move into the shift between seasons once again...

1. Minimize or eliminate CAFFEINE

A CAFFEINE habit is one of those things that can easily get out of hand. It starts with an innocent occasional cup here and there, then a niggling craving for the smell, then before you know it it has become a full blown habit that’s next to impossible to kick.

Of course, all things in moderation, but if you feel like your body and mind might benefit from a little break from caffeine then it really might be time to consider one. If we intuitively know something in this way, it usually rings true.

Vata in particular is susceptible to the negative effects of caffeine, as the Vata Dosha lives primarily in the large intestine, nervous system, and the heart. All of these areas of the body are sensitive to the stimulating effects of caffeine, causing palpitations, poor digestion, and often a literal inability to sit still.

If Vata is high or dominant in your constitution, try to minimize your consumption of caffeine, or at least become more wary of the effects when and if you choose to take it.

2. Get. Enough. Sleep.

Sleep is foundational to all health and wellbeing. It really should be talked about more. When we don’t get sufficient sleep (at least 7-8 hours per night), over a long period of time our energy and OJAS (Ayurveda’s word for vitality, vigour and lust for life) significantly decreases. This causes our immunity to suffer, and we’ll be more likely to suffer from anxiety, stress and confusion as our brain won’t be receiving the energy and prana it needs to discern truth from stressful imagined issues.

As Vata is already prone to this increased activity in the mind, those with a Vata-dominant Dosha or Vata imbalance awill suffer the most from poor sleep. Insomnia, night terrors and other sleep-related issues cause Vata’s Ojas to deplete significantly - these can usually be aided by a reduction in caffeine consumption, and increasing in Ojas-building foods.

Bottom line - sleep is key. Prioritize it. Honour it. Relish in it. Love yourself enough to give yourself the restful, screen-less evening winddown time required for deep, restful night’s sleep. Vata will thank you.

3. Cook all your food.

Vata’s qualities of being cold, dry and light are significantly increased by over-consumption of light, cold, raw foods (e.g, salads, cold juices, raw meals). It’s interesting that Vata imbalances seem to be even more dominant in communities where raw-food cleansing and cold, salad-based diets are considered optimal. Environment, season and climate is a big factor here - Vata will thrive in moist, warm climates, and struggle in cold, windy and unpredictable ones (hello, Ireland!), so it’s important to consider the season and current environment you’re in when making Dosha-based food choices.

By cooking all your food, you are ensuring your body receives at least some of the heat and moisture it is so desperately craving in order to reduce Vata and cultivate more of the earthy qualities of Kapha. The winter ‘belly-hug’ feeling is medicine for Vata Dosha.

Using good quality oils like Ghee, coconut oil or sesame oil not only increase moisture in the body (something which Ayurveda holds responsible for a graceful ageing process!), but they also assist with the regulation of Agni (digestive fire) - something which for Vata might be a struggle.

4. Don’t be afraid of feeling ‘full’

Couple of things here. Firstly, Vata Dosha is highly susceptible to experiencing anxiety & fear, and over-thinking, ‘heady’ moments. This fear is often in response to outer circumstances and a feeling of not being ‘in control’ of our lives. Anxiety is an issue which has many root causes and should be addressed according to the individual, but which can be significantly aided by following a Vata-pacifying regime.

If however, that anxiety rears it’s ugly head in situations around FOOD, Vata Dosha will experience particular difficulty. As Vata’s digestion is naturally variable and unpredictable, adding in stress and fear around food to this equation will mean a disaster for Vata’s Agni. Stress impacts our digestive process significantly by making the intestinal barrier weaker, causing unwanted substances to be absorbed into the system instead of being passed as waste. It also increases heart rate, leading to nervousness, insomnia, and agitation in both body and mind (think ‘chronic jiggly-knee’ syndrome. We all know someone.=).

Poor Agni over an extended period of time becomes ‘the new norm’ for the Vata who does not acknowledge their struggles, and slowly the person might forget what it is to ever feel balanced or have a stable digestion. The fear around certain foods becomes justified then, as their initial irrational fears are literally made manifest by the stress response in their bodies.

When Vata does then consume a hearty meal with the intention of pacifying their imbalance, at first it might not digest very well, due to these chronic symptoms of stress and tension in the mind & body. This is frustrating at first, but with persistence, guidance and Doshic-suitable meals, it is possible to regulate again.

Bottom line: for Vata, de-stress as much as possible prior to consuming a meal, to maximise the digestive capacity and ensure absorption of nutrients.

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