by Faye Sakellaridis
When you’re on it, you’re a force to be reckoned with. There’s no limit to your creativity, no idea you can’t articulate, no obstacle you can’t face. Life is a breeze. And then there are those times you can’t think straight. You feel anxious and restless, like the ground was swept from under your feet and everything you once had under your fingertips is now a swirling maelstrom of confusion.
According to Ayurveda, if this sounds like you, your primary dosha is Vata. Ayurveda, an ancient healing modality that emphasizes the mind-body connection, recognizes three doshas, or energetic forces, that make up every individual. The three doshas — Vata, Kapha, and Pitta — are present in everyone, and in most people, there is one with a distinctly prominent influence. We can see this in the different vibrations we encounter from person to person: the wide-eyed, fast-talking individual with the overactive imagination: the stolid, slow-moving folk you can always rely on; the fiery, opinionated one with the deep belly laugh.
When we are at our most harmonious state of being, our doshas are balanced according to the natural ratio of their influence in our constitution. However, when imbalanced, a variety of unpleasant symptoms unique to each dosha arise. Just as there are unique manners of throwing each dosha off balance, there are specific methods of recalibration.
Vata is associated with ether and air, and governs movement. Physiologically, this includes our respiratory system, circulation, and digestion. Psychologically, it governs the movement of thought.
Individuals who are primarily governed by Vata are nimble and quick-paced. A balanced Vata is energetic, excitable, highly creative, able to adapt to any situation, and possesses a facility for self-expression and communication. Physically, they’re likely to be thin and light, with dry and cold skin. Their energy comes in strong but short bursts, and they’re typically light sleepers.
An imbalance can be metaphorically imagined as a raging wind, like a hurricane or tornado. The individual becomes ungrounded, unable to focus, anxious and restless. It’s likely to keep them up at night too; insomnia is typical for the imbalanced vata. They may experience breathing troubles, digestive issues, dry skin, constipation, weight loss, and overall weakness. Cool, dry, and windy seasons can also exacerbate this imbalance.
So, what can one do to temper these winds? The focus here is grounding. You’ve been swept off your feet by torrents of wind, and you need to find ways to bring yourself back to earth. Slow down. Meditate. Incorporate stabilizing routines that will keep your feet on the ground, like a regular sleep schedule. Try a gentle form of physical exercise, like yoga or swimming. The more peace you can incorporate into your schedule, the better. If you can, spend some time in nature. The natural rhythm of the earth can be deeply restorative.
Naturally, your diet plays a key role in the balance of your dosha. Those with primary Vata energy want to favor foods that are heavy and oily, sweet, salty, and sour. For a detailed list of dietary suggestions, check out this informative resource on Vata from Chopra.com
Part of balancing your dosha is treating yourself. Massage oil is a particularly pleasurable way of getting your body and mind in tune. Infused with the right ingredients, massage oils can restore harmony to each dosha. For Vata, the most effective ingredients are those which ground us and nourish the parts of our body governed by Vata. At The Alchemist's Kitchen, we carry Bios Apothecary’s Ayurvedic Dosha Vata massage oil, a potent formula that quells the winds of your vata. This blend includes sesame oil, a fatty oil that’s easily digestible and warms the body, frankincense, which purifies and calms the mind, nervous system, and subtle body, and pine essential oils, which support our respiratory system and breathing. (Bios Apothecary also makes oils to balance Pitta and Kapha.)
Massage oil is also a great way to incorporate a regular, grounding practice into your every day routine. Use oil the morning to release toxins and impurities and stimulate circulation, and in the evening before bed to calm the nervous system and get better sleep.
If you want to go deeper, check out these sources for learning more about Vata, as well as Pitta and Kapha.
EatTasteHeal.com (includes a self-test to help you assess how prominent the different doshas are in you)