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WHAT IS VATA DOSHA? (PLUS HOW TO KEEP IT BALANCED & HEALTHY)

Written by John Immel, Asheville, NC
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WHAT IS A BODY TYPE (DOSHA)?
Is Vata your main body type (dosha)?

Are you creative and imaginative? Do you have an active mind that understands easily and forgets just as fast because it's quickly on to other things?

Do you have weak digestion causing gas and bloating? Or maybe you suffer from anxiety and sleeplessness due to racing thoughts that keep you awake at night.

Are your hands and feet often cold?

If you identify with these traits and symptoms your main constitution may be Vata. Or you could be imbalanced in qualities associated with Vata.

Vata is a subtle dosha and easily stimulated. It is quick to go out of balance causing a range of health problems.

Fortunately, Ayurveda can help.

What is Vata?

Vata literally means "wind," in Sanskrit.

One of Ayurveda's three doshas, Vata refers to all bodily processes that are catabolic, dry out the body, or trigger movement.

In contrast Pitta refers to all bodily processes that are metabolic, generate heat, defend, or regulate. Kapha refers to all bodily processes that are anabolic, moisten and nourish, or repair.

Each or the doshas is also defined by imbalances of certain biocharacteristics or qualities. In Vata's case these are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle and mobile.

An example of a Vata imbalance is symptoms of dryness.

Dry symptoms include dry hair, dry skin, a dry digestive tract (lack of digestive fluids), or dryness in your joints.

Vata also shows up as deficiency.

One of Vata's main effects is to activate and use up stored energy in the body. This essential function of breaking down proteins, fats and other nutrients (defined as catabolic in Western medicine) releases the energy within nutrients for use .

But continuously breaking down can lead to deficiency. To stay balanced Vata people must choose diet and lifestyle habits that rebuild.

Vata also makes movement in your body possible. This would include muscles, nerve impulses, and thoughts.

Vata senses are hearing and touch.

Some common characteristics of Vata constitutions are:

  • Light body weight
  • Talk and walk quickly
  • Creative and imaginative

What is Vata Like?

When Vata's qualities are in balance, these folks are vivacious, and outgoing.

They are always up for an adventure and easily adapt to change. They enjoy being on the go.

However Vata's have a highly sensitive nervous system. They are quickly overstimulated and imbalanced.

When that happens, they can become anxious, flighty, dehydrated, constipated, and exhausted. And all of this can leave them feeling and acting erratic and scattered.

The senses closely associated with Vata are hearing and touch.

(If you don't know your main dosha, and would like to find out, take our free dosha quiz.)

What Happens When Vata is Out of Balance?

We all have Vata at work in our bodies. (Otherwise nothing would move and/or change.)

However, some of us have more Vata qualities than others.

Some common Vata symptoms, or signs of imbalance, include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irregular schedule and appetite
  • Gas, bloating, and constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Mineral depletion
And some (but not all) possible Vata disorders are:
  • Colon disorders, including constipation
  • Dryness, including dry skin and gas
  • Underweight
  • Arthritis
  • Nervous system disorders, worry, and anxiety
Famous Vata People

Vata's Ayurvedic Clock

Ayurveda teaches that good health requires us to be in sync with nature and our body's natural biorhythms or clock. These include a variety of cycles such as daily and seasonal rhythms, one's passage through life, as well as digestion, and pregnancy.

Vata comes at the end of each of these cycles, the end of the digestive tract, the end of pregnancy, the end of the day, the end of the year, and the end of a person's life.

Its qualities naturally increase during these times, upping a person's chances of imbalance.

Vata increases:

  • At the end of the day and before sunset, because the body is weary and deficient from a long day's work.
  • Towards the end of the night and prior to sunrise as the nervous system stimulates the body to wake up.
  • In the autumn as conditions become colder, drier, and more mobile. The mobility is due to irregular and windy conditions at that time that stress the nervous system.
  • Five to six hours after a meal. Blood sugar levels dip during these times and the body gets hungry, promoting anxiety and stress.
  • Over age 50. Vata is deficiency and the body becomes deficient in later years of life as a natural part of the aging process.
Note that someone may be Vata in nature but not fit into this exact description.

This could be due to the influence of one of the other doshas.

For example, Vata and Pitta dosha may dominate in your body, or Vata and Kapha dosha.

Vata Sites of the Body

Certain sites in the body are places of greater Vata activity.

Colon - The body reabsorbs moisture from feces before elimination from the colon. If the body is dry, it absorbs too much water from stool, causing dryness in the colon. Signs of dryness include gas and constipation.

Waist & Lower Half of the Body - When Vata is elevated, the body becomes more mobile and the mind more active. As a result one tends to forget about the lower half of the body.

Bones - Vata's poor digestion reduces mineral absorption. Mineral deficiencies show up as white spots on the nails, hair loss, osteopenia, or arthritis. Problems with bones, nails, and hair are due to high Vata.

Skin - When toxins (ama) from the colon corrupt blood chemistry, the kidneys try to eliminate the toxins through urination. The result is loss of fluids leading to dry skin. Vata is also the dosha of touch.

Ears - Ringing in the ears is due to high Vata. When the quality of the blood is poor due to ama, the nervous system and sense organs get stimulated. The ears are especially sensitive. Many Vata people are musicians.

Mind - When Vata is elevated, the mind becomes stimulated, anxious, or afraid. Vata people often experience racing, disjointed thoughts. They are highly imaginative and quickly understand, but also quickly forget.

How to Balance Vata

Sweet, sour and salty foods give Vata the nourishment, moisture, and nervous stability they need to rebuild.

Vata folks are best soothed by routine, warmth and good quality oils in their diets and on their skin.

Their lifestyle needs stability - taking time to slow down and rest, as they tire easily and are quickly overstimulated. Their best diet consists of foods like root vegetables, whole grains and animal products to ground their airy natures.

Vata Should Avoid These Foods

  • Stimulants - Coffee, Black Tea, Candy
  • Foods that make you pee (diuretics) - Celery, Parsley, Watermelon, Asparagus
  • Dry foods - Dried fruit, Nuts that aren't soaked
  • Difficult to digest foods - Kidney beans, some raw foods
  • Excessively light foods - Salads
Vata Aggravating Foods
Are you Vata imbalanced? Get our Personal Ayurvedic Recipe Book for your specific imbalances!

Avoid Food With These Vata Qualities

Favor These Vata Balancing Lifestyle Choices

  • Routine sleeping and eating schedule
  • Keep warm, comfortable, and hydrated
  • Avoid raw foods and too much cleansing
  • Increase sweet, sour, salty, and pungent taste
  • Massage yourself daily with Vata oil
  • Keep the colon clean with herbs like haritaki

More About Vata Lifestyle

Favor these Vata Balancing Foods

More About Vata Diet Learn About Vata Digestion

Favor These Vata Balancing Herbs

Are you Catabolic (Vata Dosha)?

Tell your friends your Ayurvedic body type. Help them discover you and your unique personality by sharing your Ayurvedic constitution on one of these sites below.

READ MORE ON THIS TOPIC
How to Balance Vata with an Ayurvedic Diet
How to Balance Vata with Lifestyle
How to Balance Vata Digestion
The 3 Ayurvedic Body Types (Doshas): Vata, Pitta, & Kapha
Understanding Pitta Dosha (Plus How to Keep It Balanced)
 

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About John Joseph Immel

About the Author

John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda biocharacteristics. His approach to Ayurveda is clinical, yet exudes an ease which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda, offering professional clinical training in Ayurveda for over 15 years.

John's interest in Ayurveda and specialization in digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, as well as public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.

John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well. Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his wife and 7 kids, and pursuing his love of theology, philosophy, and language.

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full start reviewfull start reviewfull start reviewfull start reviewhalf start review(4.90 out of 5 stars) 10 ratings, 305 likes
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This is my second attempt to understand the Ayurvedic way of life. I get it. It seems like so much but I am now feeling it. Thank you. WOW.
- Sally, St. louis, MO
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, 01-11-13 (Reply)
At first I was a little skeptical since I work in traditional medicine, but the more I read I am amazed at how right on the description of my condition fits me!
- Cheri, New braunfels, TX
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, 08-16-13 (Reply)
Great article and easy to understand
- monty, Ajax, ON
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, 11-28-13 (Reply)
Always very helpful. Understanding Ayurveda more and more everyday! Thank you.
- Mondolfi Barbara, Miami, FL
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, 01-23-14 (Reply)
Danita, consider making an appointment with one of our practitioners for a one on one consultation.
- Kimberly Kubicke, Asbury park, NJ
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, 07-21-16 (Reply)
Sweet taste and heavy foods are balancing to both Vata and Pitta. Consider ordering one of our custom made Personal Body Books or getting a one on one consultation with one of our practitioners.
- Kimberly Kubicke, Asbury park, NJ , 07-21-16 (Reply)

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