As per Ayurveda, the world is made up of five elements of nature, namely space/ether (Akash), air (Vayu), fire (Agni), water (Jala) and earth (Prithivi). Popularly known as the 'Panchamahabhutas' in the ancient Sanskrit texts, these elements are also present in the human body and mind in the form of Dosha: Vata (ether, air), Pitta (fire, water) and Kapha (water, earth).
These three Doshas or humors are decided at the time of conception and influence everyting from your physical characteristics, your mental abilities, emotional regulation and more.
In this article, we will focus on the Vata Dosha.
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What is Vata Dosha?
The Vata Dosha is made up of a combination of air (Vayu) and ether or space (Akash). It constitutes vitality and governs all the movements like blinking of your eyes and lifting of your arms. Vata is the only active element in the body and the other two Doshas - Pitta and Kapha along with the Dhatus (tissues) and Mala (excreta) are monitored by Vata. It is also responsible for internal processes like circulation, respiration, and the normal functioning of the nervous system.
If the Vata Dosha is balanced in our body, then it is easier to balance Pitta and Kapha Dosha as well.
Characteristics of Vata Dosha
2. They are communicative and have innovative ideas.
3. Enthusiasm is another trait that is found abundantly in Vata-type persons.
4. They tend to get distracted easily and hop from one thing to another quickly.
5. They don't have a strong willpower and are quick to speak as well as take actions.
6. Vata-dominant people are swift and physically active.
7. They love indulging in sweet, sour and salty foods and frequently suffer from cold hands and feet.
Physical features of Vata Dosha-dominant personalities
1. Either very large or relatively small
2. Generally on the lower side of the weighing scale
3. Delicate and slender bone structure
4. Underdeveloped muscles with low strength
5. Dry, rough, cool skin
6. Dry and frizzy hair
7. Brittle nails
8. Gains and loses weight quickly
9. Deep and soft voice
10. Speaks quickly
Mental features of Vata Persons
1. Generally quick-minded, creative, full of new ideas, and highly capable of holding a big vision.
2. Intuitive, and tend to be admired for a great degree of mental flexibility, though, can also be rather delicate and emotionally or energetically sensitive.
3. Enjoy travelling, and prefer adventure to routine.
4. Enthusiastic about life and your willingness to try new things may often leave you feeling overcommitted, despite your genuine investment in the causes you care about.
5. May struggle with a tendency toward anxiety and overwhelm, which is almost certainly mitigated when you create a sense of routine in your life, though you undoubtedly resist doing so.
6. You likely make money quickly, but are equally quick to spend it.
7. Friends would describe you as fun-loving, happy, and enthusiastic (if a bit impulsive) and it brings you great joy to bring these qualities into the lives of others.
Find your dominant Dosha with Amrutam Dosha Quiz today!
Gunas of Vata Dosha1. Ruksha - dry.
2. Laghu - light.
3. Shita - cold (and dry).
4. Kara - rough. With dryness.
5. Suksma - subtle.
6. Chala - (constant) movement. Like a snake or ant.
7. Sara - lubricated movement (Caraka).
8. Vishada - dry slippery like the touch of a reptile. (Caraka). e.g. Kapikachu (Mucuna prurita) before touching it is vishada.
What happens when Vata Dosha is imbalanced?
Vata, made up of space and air, is situated in various parts and organs of the body. Since it is responsible for the body's internal processes, it is found in the large intenstine, the pelvic region, the knees, skin, ears and hips. If there is an excess build up of the Vata Dosha in the body then it accumulates in these areas. And any imbalance in the Vata Dosha leads to issues like anxiety, insomnia, and flatulence.
Vata in Balance
Vata Out of Balance
• energetic and vivacious
• tired and/or fatigued
• learns easily
• lack of focus or forgetful
• clear and alert mind
• spaced out or scattered
• falls asleep easily at bedtime
• difficulty falling asleep
• balanced digestion and elimination
• occasional constipation, gas, wind
• good circulation and even body temperature
• can feel cold physically
• poor circulation - cold hands and feet
• feelings of anxiousness or worry
Five Subdoshas of Vata
Each of the Ayurvedic Dosha contain subdoshas that govern specific parts of the body and their functioning. Follow are the five subdoshas of Vata, also known as the King of Doshas.
1. Prana Vata
This subdosha is situated in and govern the head, brain and upper part of the body including the lungs and the heart. It governs the mind-heart connect and is responsible for sensory perception, thoughts, respiration, inhalation, heartbeat, ingestion of food, coughing, spitting, as well as other download movements that flow into the body such as sneezing, and swallowing.
Stress or a lack of sleep can create an imbalance in the Prana Vata. This can lead to weakened senses, confusion, nausea and other things. Meditation, yoga and pranayam work well in regulating and balancing the Prana Vata. More particularly, Nadi Shodhana and Brahmari pranayam are useful in restoring Prana Vata.
2. Udana Vata
This subdosha is responsible for the upward movement in the body. It is crucial for maintaining memory and proper speech patterns. Mainly governing the chest region, it is associated with our heart, lungs, throat and the entire respiratory system, more particularly the exhalation which allows the gaseous waste to move up and out of the body. When feeling unwell, the Udana Vata also governs vomiting and eliminating the waste from the mouth.
An imbalance in the Udana Vata can lead to respiratory issues, tightness in the chest, congestion, hoarseness, throat discomfort, stuttering, indecisiveness, and/ or the inability to express oneself properly. Mediation and pranayam, more specifically the Ujjai pranayam is known to help restore balance inthe Udana Vata. Consuming herbs mulethi or licorice also aid the process of pacifying Udana Vata.
3. Samana Vata
This subdosha is situated in the navel area, stomach and pancreas, and the small intestine and the GI tract. It has a linear motion and is responsible for the digestion of food and absorption and assimilation of nutrients into the body, and thus represents the Agni (digestive fire).
When imbalanced, Samana Vata can lead to digestive issues like constipation, indigestion, diarrhoea, malabsorption, gas, bloating or a leaky gut. This subdosha of Vata can be regulated by kindling the digestive fire. Kapalbhati and Bhastrika pranayam practices work excellently in restoring and maintaining the Samana Vata. Consuming moderate quantities of herbs like Ajwain, Triphala and Harad also help pacify an imbalanced Samana Vata.
4. Vyana Vayu
Vayana Vayu governs the circulation and pulsation (pulsing function of the heart) in the body. It is mainly associated with the heart's pumping and circulation of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. This subdosha is responsible for controlling the emotions, nerve impulses, sensory motors, and muscular contraction and relaxation. It essentially moves the centre of the body (heart) to other parts of the body through the process of circulation and creates feelings of grounding and the heart-body connect.
When out of balance, Vyana Vata can express itself in blood pressure issues, tremors, anxiousness, palpitations, increased or decreased heart rate, and muscle cramping. To maintain the Vyana Vata, Ayurveda recommends the practice of Abhyanga or self-massage that involves gently rubbing and massaging the body and limbs with herb-infused oils. Even Garshana or dry massage is beneficial in restoring the Vyana Vayu and balancing the Vyana Vata.
5. Apana Vata
This is the fifth and the final subdosha of Vata. Located in the colon and pelvic region of the body, it is primarily responsible for the downward and outward movements. It governs excretion and expulsion of faeces, urination, ejaculation, conceptions, act of childbirth and menstruation.
When imbalanced, Apana Vata can lead to constipation, diarrhea, menstrual issues, urinary issues and more. It can also lead to pain in the lower body, including in the lower back, thighs, and knees, is most often related to aggravated vata, as is menstrual pain caused by constriction and restriction in the pelvic area. Imbalanced vata’s erosive, drying, and destabilizing effects can be mitigated by balancing vata in the colon.
Also read: Six Simple and Easy Harad Recipes
Incorporating herbs like Haritaki, Triphala and Marich can help subside an imbalanced Apana Vata. Consuming good fats like Ghee and hydrating the body along with physical movements like walking, yoga or stretching can also pacify the Apana Vata.
Dietary tips for Vata Dosha
1. Portions and food combination: People with a Vata-dominant personality should eat smaller portions of meals and avoid combining foods of different type.
2. For proper digestion: Chewing carefully is very important to ensure smooth digestion.
3. Maintain hydration: Since the wind or air component is dominant, the skin and hair get dry. Drinking plenty of water in small sips throughout the day will ensure you are hydrated from within.
4. Cooked and warm foods: Prefer warm drinks and beverages over cold ones. Also, have cooked, warm meals and avoid raw foods like salads.
5. Indulge in some sweetness: Sweet foods help bring balance to an imbalanced Vata Dosha, so do eat fruits, dates, and other natural sweeteners like honey.
6. Avoid coffee and aeriated drinks: Soft drinks or sodas stimulate the nervous system and impair the internal processes causing an imbalance in the Dosha.
Also read: Seven Foods for a Healthy Liver
Diet chart for Vata-types
Reduce or Avoid
Warm, heavy, unctuous, and oily foods, warm food and drinks. Favor sweet, sour, and salty tastes.
Light and dry food; avoid cold food and drinks; minimize pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.
Wheat products, rice (basmati, jasmine, and heavy sweet rice are all good), cooked oat flakes.
Barley, corn, millet, rye, buckwheat, and raw oats (all harder to digest for delicate Vatas).
Soup of mung beans, split whole mung beans, red lentils, yellow mung dhal (pulses can be soaked overnight for faster cooking).
Pulses, with the exception of the easy-to-digest ones listed to the left.
All dairy products. Cheese should be soft and fresh (paneer, cottage cheese, fresh mozzarella, and cream cheese are all examples of easy-to-digest, lightly-aged cheeses).
All sugar cane products such as unprocessed white rock sugar/natural candy sugar, raw cane sugar, molasses, maple syrup, and raw unheated honey.
Heated pasteurized honey. Foods with honey cooked in them.
All (organic ghee is especially recommended for cooking).
All nuts except peanuts; seeds in small amounts.
Cumin, ginger, mustard seeds, fenugreek, asafoetida, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise, fennel, black pepper (small amounts), salt, lemon juice, tamarind (Asian fruit); Vata Churna and Vata Key Herbs Tea (ready-made mixtures of spices and herbs that balance Vata).
Asparagus, beets, cabbage (cooked), cucumber, fennel, garlic, green beans, green chillies, leeks, okra, olives, black, parsnip, peas (cooked), potatoes, sweet, pumpkin, radishes (cooked), rutabaga, spaghetti squash, spinach, zucchini
Artichoke, bitter melon, broccoli, brussels sprouts, burdock root, cabbage (raw), cauliflower (raw), celery, corn, eggplant, kale, olives, green, onions (raw), peppers, sweet & hot, potatoes, white, radish (raw)
Ripe, sweet, and juicy fruits: apricots, avocado, bananas, berries, cherries, dates (fresh), figs (fresh), grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, melon, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapple, plums, prunes (soaked), raisins (soaked), rhubarb, strawberries
Unripe, dry, sour fruits: apples (raw), dates (dry), figs (dry),pears, pomegranate, raisins (dry), prunes (dry), watermelon
Looking for a personalized treatment for an imbalanced Kapha Dosha? Book a consultation with our Ayurvedic Experts today at Amrutam.Global.
Foods that help Vata Dosha
Vata-types should consume foods that have the warm, oily, static, slimy, hot, slow, soft, liquid properties. These are suitable for Vata types because they
combat the air characteristics.
10. Whole milk
12. Warm spices such as turmeric, flaxseeds, cinnamon, ginger, etc.
Foods to avoid for Vata Dosha
Vata-dominant persons should avoid foods that are astringent, bitter or pungent. Raw food is detrimental for Vata types because it is more difficult to digest.
2. Bitter melon
4. Brussel sprouts
6. Carrots (raw)
7. Bell peppers
13. Dandelion (green)
17. Green olives
18. White potato
20. Raw spinach
Curious to learn about your Dosha type? Take Amrutam Dosha Quiz to learn about your dominant Dosha!
Lifestyle tips for Vata Dosha1. Maintain a routine: One of the foundational principles of Ayurveda is that “like increases like,” and opposites balance. Therefore, because Vata dosha is cool, light, and dry, it benefits from things that are warming, grounding, and nurturing.
2. One of the best things you can do to counter Vata’s light, somewhat erratic nature is to follow a regular routine that includes warm, nourishing foods and plenty of rest.
3. Follow a Vata dosha-balancing diet: Favoring warm, oily, heavy, well-spiced foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes, and avoiding those that are cold, dry, and raw.
4. Try not to skip meals: Instead, eat three warm, cooked meals per day at about the same time each day.
5. Drink herbal teas: a naturally sweet, warming, and comforting herbal tea designed to create calm in both mind and body. All-organic Ayurvedic spices support digestive health.
6. Avoid stimulants: like caffeine, alcohol, or staying up late watching TV and looking at electronic devices
7. Self-massage: Give yourself a soothing daily abhyanga (self-massage with warm oil) to help improve circulation, calm the nerves, and alleviate dry skin.
8. Avoid work that is stressful: especially in the evening hours—and make time for relaxing exercise, like walks and yoga.
9. Breath work: Do gentle breathing exercises like pranayama each day.
10. Keep warm: Bundle up in cool or cold, windy weather. Keep your extremities well protected and warm.
11. Meditate: Reduce mental stress with meditation.
12. Sleep health: Go to bed early at night, well before ten o'clock, and rise before 6:00 a.m.
13. Maintain downtime: Ensure you have some downtime every day.
Ayurvedic Herbs to Manage Vata Dosha
Ashwagandha is particularly beneficial for Vata types as it calms the nervous system and helps focus the mind. It is frequently prescribed for people who complain of fatigue, have difficulty concentrating, or feel “ungrounded”—all symptoms of Vata imbalance.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, ginger’s heating qualities make it useful for treating Vata imbalances. For example, people with cold hands and feet can drink ginger tea or chew on fresh or candied ginger to bring heat into the system and improve circulation. Ginger is also a beneficial treatment for common Vata digestive issues as it improves all three phases of gastrointestinal function (digestion, absorption, and elimination).
It is an herbal blend made from the fruits of three trees that grow in India and the Middle East (the Sanskrit term triphala means “three fruits”). The fruits are dried, ground into powder, and blended in a precise manner developed by the ancient herbalists. It balances the Vata dosha as well as Pitta and Kapha. It also contains five of the six tastes, lacking only the salty taste. The herbs that comprise triphala have potent healing and purifying properties.
Vata Key Herbs
While the above two recipes are more of a general cure to Vata imbalances, they may not work in extreme cases. To prevent Vata Dosha imbalances from reaching their peak, we suggest consuming our signature Dosha Key Herbs. The Vata Key Herb mix contains several Ayurvedic herbs and spices that help in pacifying an aggravated Vata state. In addition to Ashwagandha and Shatavari, the principal herbs for combating Vata imbalances, the mix also contains Nirgundi, Methi, Amla and other herbs.
Vata Pacifying Recipes
Recipe 1: Gajar ka Halwa
One of the most common symptoms of Vata imbalance is constantly feeling cold. What better way to warm yourself up than with a serving of hot and delicious Gajar ka Halwa!?
4 Carrots, Raisins, 4 Cups of Milk, ¼ cup Brown Sugar, 2 tbsp. Ghee, ¼ tbsp. Cinnamon, Saffron and Dates.
- Peel the Carrots and grate them into a cooking pot and cook it.
- Next add milk and allow it to boil until the grated carrots absorb the milk completely.
- Next, add the Brown Sugar, Raisins, Dates and Saffron and mix well.
- You may also switch out the Brown Sugar for Jaggery!
- Allow the mix to fry for 10-15 minutes.
- In another pan, fry your Cinnamon in the Ghee for about half a minute and pour over your fried Gajar Halwa.
- Your Carrot Halwa is ready to serve.
Recipe 2: Date Almond Shake
This delicious milkshake is the epitome of healthy/tasty drinks.
For this recipe, you will need 6 Dates, 15 Almonds, Cardamom and Cinnamon Powder, 2 Cups of Milk and some hot water.
- Soak the Almonds and Dates in a bowl of water for a few hours.
- Peel the almond skin off.
- Put the peeled almonds, soaked dates and some water in a blender.
- To this add boiled milk and the spices and blend until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Serve the drink straight away.
Consult an Ayurveda Doctor
Imbalances are unique to each person and require customized treatment plans to fully curb the issue from the root cause. We recommend consulting our Ayurveda Doctors at Amrutam.Global who take a collaborative approach to work on your health and wellness with specialized treatment options. Book your consultation here today.