Updated: Nov 9, 2019
We speak about the doshas all the time in Ayurvedic medicine and philosophy, but what do they actually mean? What does Vata, Pitta and Kapha constitute in ourselves as humans but also in our surroundings? Over the coming weeks, I will be unpacking each of the doshas explicitly to help clarify your understanding of your own natural dosha constitution but also of where I, or any other Ayurvedic physician, might be coming from in Ayurvedic diagnosis and healing practices.
Dosha in Ayurveda simply means energies which are formed by a combination of the elements. These energies fundamentally construct and govern the workings of our body, minds and our surrounding environments including the core make up of other sentient beings. As humans, we have all three doshas present in our bodies. What makes each of us unique however, is every individuals ratio or unique combination of the doshas. Some of us are dominated strongly by one dosha alone, for example are either Vata, Pitta or Kapha. Others share an equality between two doshas and others have a balance of all three in equal proportions. Our doshic make up is constructed from a mixture of our parents genetics, our mothers pregnancy and health, our family history, time of conception, extrinsic environmental exposure and karmic factors also. If you are to look around even within your family, you can see that everyone is unique in their own way, even when you share the same genetics. I know even within my immediate family, our body frames, weight, hair colour and structure, skin, metabolisms and health susceptibilities all vary to some degree. Ayurveda, being the incredibly intelligent science that it is, acknowledges our dosha individuality as the key foundation for lifestyle, well being and healing strategies.
So today let’s talk about Vata.
Vata is the lightest of the three doshas and is constructed of the air and space elements. It is responsible for movement and propulsion in the body and our environment. Vata is cold, light, dry, irregular or erratic, rough, fast moving and changeable. It doesn’t take much for Vata to become unsettled and needs to be pacified quickly before disturbing other actions in the body.
If you are a person with a predominance of Vata, you are likely to be very active, have high energy and are creative. Your body is usually lean/slim/skinny and you find it difficult to keep weight on – you are the type of person many envy in the fact that you can eat a lot but never gain weight. A Vata person has excellent agility, bursts of energy and go, go, go but then often will have a bout of fatigue to follow. Vatas often have dry skin, dry hair, brittle nails and cold hands and feet.
The Vata dosha is aggravated by cold, windy and dry weather therefore making Autumn a peak Vata season. Vata body types usually sleep very lightly, have sensitive digestions and nervous systems. When out of balance, Vata can trigger conditions such as constipation, weight loss, hypertension, arthritis/osteoporosis/spondylosis, degenerative nervous system conditions, restlessness, asthma, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, skin conditions, various forms of cancer and pain (local and generalised).
Vata dominated individuals love excitement, new experiences and are usually the first members of the group to say, “yep, I’m in. Let’s do it!” They are quick to anger or judge but also quick to forgive and move forward. When in balance Vata people are highly creative, intuitive, kind, flexible and energetic. Vatas love to have a good chat and can take initiative in engaging with others. When out of balance, you might find the Vata person to worry, become anxious, restless, hyperactive, unreliable or a bit flaky, have a hyperactive and chatty mind, can catastrophise and become overwhelmed, are needy and may begin to suffer with sleeping problems like insomnia.
To balance Vata, the general guidelines are as follows:
- Stick to a regular routine and lifestyle as this grounds Vata quickly.Avoid high levels of stress as this will seriously unsettle the Vata type and anxiety is quick to follow along with a feeling of being overwhelmed.
- Meditate – regularly. I mean like really regularly, twice a day. This helps to settle and clear a busy Vata mind and open up the channels for greater creativity and clarity. Guided meditations work well for Vata.
- Eat small meals regularly throughout the day and don’t leave the appetite unattended. Perform an self-Abhyanga massage daily if possible (Click the link here for more information).
- Eat foods that are heavy (i.e. with oils), have moisture and are warm and well cooked. Raw, cold and dry foods are bad news for the Vata digestion.
- Favour clothes that have warm colours like pastels, earth tones and warm yellows.Aromatherapy such as lavender, cinnamon, sage, vanilla, frankincense and citrus are all great for pacifying Vata.
As always, never hesitate to be in touch if you would like to find out some more information about your natural constitution and the doshas.
With love and light,