Vata is an ayurvedic concept; one of the three doshas. What are the doshas? I’m glad you asked because this is what I’ve just been going in depth with in ayurveda school!
The Tridoshas are the functional intelligences within the body, basically how your body knows what to do. They are: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, each one explains the different governing principles behind everything working the way it does, and the balance of the three is important for optimal health. When the doshas are out of balance there are unpleasant symptoms associated with the according excess or lack and immunity is compromised. Most colds manifest during the change of seasons and weather. The physical body must adapt to external changes and ayurvedic principles can help us transition more comfortably.
Vata is the energy behind any kind of movement – circulation, respiration, and motor functions to name just a few. It is characterized by air. It has the qualities of being cold, light, and dry, like the wind. Vata is quick and frenetic. Wind and cold weather whip up vata energy. Aggravated vata is what ayurveda explains as what’s behind a restless body and mind, dry skin, chapped lips, feeling cold all the time, waking up in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep.
Fall and early winter is considered vata season because the qualities of vata are highlighted this time of year. Another principle of ayurveda, is the observation of how like increases like and so it’s important to make an effort to keep vata balanced in fall and early winter.
When your vata energy is out of balance you are in need of some grounding and stability, warmth, hydration and moisturizing. Makes sense doesn’t it? We tend to eat more soups, drink more warm beverages, apply more lotion and lip balm, and cuddle up with blankets to counteract the increase in vata. And while your common sense can take you this far, ayurveda can take you further, identifying ailments and remedies that may be less obvious. For example, do you feel more anxious and restless and don’t really know why? Feel like you’re constantly on the move and can’t seem to settle down? That is also the new season increasing your vata! Plus any extra stress from the upcoming holidays only makes it worse! A vata pacifying diet absolutely helps, and also take time to SLOW DOWN, return to your meditation practice or start one. Recognize when your mind is racing forward, worrying about the future and “what if” scenarios – things that haven’t even happened yet! Come back to the present, take some very slow deep breaths, do a gratitude exercise by thinking of 5 things (or more!) you have right now to be grateful for. This will surely get your vata in check
I love this guide to Vata Season from Monica B, it is full of recommendations, tips, recipes, and easy to understand information – I know, ayurveda seems really foreign and arcane at first! Maybe even a bit woo woo – however, with further exploration you’ll discover that its very practical and scientific.
What about the other two doshas you ask? In brief:
Pitta is the energy behind transformation and conversion – using materials to make something else, like digestion, or hormonal processes like when insulin converts glucose to glycogen. Characterized by fire, its main quality is heat.
Kapha is the energy behind structure and cohesion – that which allows stability and strength, and for things to hold together, to be protected and supported. Characterized by earth and water, its qualities are cold, heavy, and wet.
Will get more into Pitta and Kapha in future posts! For now, during this vata season, consider how vata manifests in your own constitution and if you feel you may be in excess then I highly encourage you to check out the guide and try some of the tips.