Vata: The Energy of Movement
Vata is one of the three constitutions, or "doshas" as described in Ayurvedic Medicine, the sister science to yoga and the branch of medicine, often considered to be the "mother of all medicine" due to its ancient and deeply sustainable roots.
A person with vata predominant is blessed with a quick mind, flexibility and creativity. Vata provides the essential motion for all bodily processes and is extremely vital for health. One purpose of lifestyle considerations is to "ground" or stabilize this motion. On an annual basis, vata is most prominent in the fall and at the change of seasons, and these are the most important times to be careful of diet and lifestyle. Routine is very useful in assisting the vata individual to effectively ground all this moving energy.
Vata types have variable appetite and digestion. They are often attracted to astringent foods like salad and vegetables, but their constitution is balanced by sweet, sour and salty tastes. Vata people tend to produce little urine and their feces are hard, dry and small in size and quantity. Mentally, vata people usually grasp things quickly but then forget them quickly. They are alert, restless and very active. They walk, talk and think fast, but are easily fatigued. They have less willpower and often feel unstable and ungrounded. They have less tolerance, confidence and boldness. When unbalanced, vata types have a tendency to become fearful and nervous, and may experience high anxiety. In the external world, vata types tend to earn money quickly and spend it quickly. They are not good planners and as a consequence may suffer economic hardship. Vata resides in the colon, as well as the brain, ears, bones, joints, skin and thighs. Vata people are more susceptible to diseases involving the air principle, such as emphysema, pneumonia and arthritis. Other common vata disorders include flatulence, tics, twitches, aching joints, dry skin and hair, nerve disorders, constipation, and mental confusion. Vata tends to increase with age as is indicated by drying and wrinkling of the skin.
Since the attributes of vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, clear and dispersing, any of these qualities in excess can cause imbalance. Frantic travel, especially by plane, loud noises, continual stimulation, drugs, sugar, and alcohol all derange vata, as does exposure to cold and cold foods. Like the wind, vata types have a hard time becoming and staying grounded. Routine is difficult but essential if vata is to be lowered and controlled. In general, people with excessive vata respond most rapidly to warm, moist, slightly oily, heavy foods. Steam baths, humidifiers, and moisture in general are helpful.
General food guidelines for decreasing vata are:
50% whole grains: whole grain cooked cereals, some breads and crackers
20% protein: eggs, high quality dairy products, poultry, fish, seafood, beef, tofu, black and red lentils
20-30% fresh vegetables with an optional 10% for fresh fruits
General guidelines for balancing vata:
Avoid raw foods
Avoid extreme cold
Avoid cold foods
Eat warm foods and spices
Keep a regular routine