What is Vata?
ELEMENTS: Space and Air – dry and restless
Vata is made up of the two elements space and air.
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. Change is usually their second name. They are light sleepers and gravitate towards warm environments. 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. And that’s natural. But if the qualities become extreme, or more pronounced than usual at a given time, then the Vata in you has in all likelihood become aggravated or imbalanced, and needs to be brought back into balance. And if a predominantly Kapha or Pitta person starts exhibiting many Vata qualities, that indicates a Vata imbalance in that Kapha or Pitta body type. 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.
Signs that you need to balance Vata:
- Are you constantly worried, anxious, overwhelmed, fretful?
- Do you feel tired but find yourself unable to slow down and relax?
- Do you find it difficult to settle down and fall asleep at night? Is your sleep restless when you do manage to fall asleep?
- Is your skin feeling dryer than usual, stretched taut or flaking?
- Is your hair more brittle, with split ends happening oftener?
- Are your lips raw and chapped? Is your throat constantly dry?
- Is your digestion irregular? Do you experience problems with abdominal gas?
- Do you feel like you cannot sit still, that you need to be constantly moving?
- Do you feel “spaced out”? Is it harder to remember things for more than a short period of time? Is your attention span shorter than usual? Is it harder to focus?
- Do your bowel movements occur less than once daily?
If you answered yes to many of the questions above, following a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle can help restore balance to Vata.