Dosha for Autumn- Vata

Ayurveda studies our constitutions. In Ayurvedic terms, our specific constitution is our “prakrti” or our nature. Just as nature in the wild is comprised of the elements of water, earth, fire, air.. our own “prakrti” is a composition of kapha (earth/ water element); pitta (fire/water element); vata (air). We all have varying balances of these three elements. Our body type (thin/ fat/ tall/ small/ muscular etc) gives hints to which dosha dominates in our body- but we can be a mix- so don’t go just by body type alone. Various illnesses, ailments, issues with various systems may indicate “dosha imbalance” and this is what the science of Ayurveda predominantly deals with.
Over the next few months, we will cover the various doshas. So while we are heading into Autumn and the cooler months, we should cover Vata.
The Autumn season brings on dryness, wind. Green leaves lose their “juiciness’, dry up, turn brown then fall. We begin to feel the chill in our joints and bones. Autumn can bring on, or aggravate a vata imbalance. So if you’re feeling unsettled, sleeping less, if your mind is unsteady and directionless… if you are experiencing more stomach upsets and reactions than normal… you may be suffering from a vata imbalance.
Vata dominant people are small, thin, with petite dry bones. Skin-type- ruddy, prone to dryness. In a yoga class, they are often stiff due to the “dry” nature of their prakrti. They don’t settle in poses for long times- often being more attracted to dynamic yoga classes and hot yoga for the lubricating effect the sweat and heat has on the muscles and joints. They don’t meditate well, and are restless in shavasana. For women, it might be desirable to look “vata”- as they are petite with impossible metabolisms, but the imbalances of this dosha aren’t as desirable. When balanced, a vata- dominant constitution implies great vitality, creativity, energy. Vata dominant people grasp the concept of spirituality quicker due to their “few feet off the floor” nature. They love yoga.
In Autumn and winter, there is often a vata imbalance. Vata means air and wind in every sense- so can bring on irritable bowel, bloating and gas. They can get very ungrounded, unfocused, with their mind on 10 things at once. Insomnia is very common as our vata friends wake at 3am in the morning with their mind already full of things they need to do and people they need to call. When my vata element is out of balance, I am up writing these newsletters, and sending the emails i forgot to send the day before, making oodles of spelling and grammar errors that my more grounded students take note of and email back to me!!
Yoga to calm the vata dosha.
Vata types love yoga. Those with vata out of balance may be more attracted to dynamic, “exhausting” styles of yoga. They love the constant stimulation. Hot styles might also appeal as the sweat lubricates stiff joints. If this is the case, and the idea of slower styles doesn’t interest you at all, consider just one of your practices per week to be more grounding. Perhaps choose a style like Iyengar or yin – they stabilise, ground and teach the student about being present and still of mind. Try for that one practice to minimise the sun salutes (either avoiding altogether, or making them just for warm up- not the foundation of the entire practice); inversions and strengthening postures.
I do see vata types more and more in my deep relaxation classes. This is great. It can appeal to the fast minded/ bodied types too due to the intense mental challenge involved with staying in a posture for extended periods of time.
Seated forward bends, shoulderstands/ plough postures.. balance postures- whether on hands or feet or head!! They require consumate concentration, being completely still and present of mind.
Meditation is important. If you find it hard to just sit and be quiet, increase your meditation after an asana practice.  Try guided meditations – nidras, mindulness practices.. Don’t feel pressure to meditate for long periods of time. Start conservatively, and work up to about 20 minutes.
What to eat?
Ironically, we think the light foods like salads and vegetables are too healthy to skip, but if you have a vata imbalance, raw vegetables just add more “air” or “gas” to the digestive system. Vata dominant digestive systems require more lubrication. If eating veges, make sure they are cooked. Try steaming but definitely roasting with ghee or polyunsaturated oils are desireable.
More substantial foods such as avocado, bananas, root vegetables, nuts, sesame seeds, yoghurts, warming soups and herbal teas are great. Roasted meats are often suitable as well as cheese if you are not lactose intolerant. In terms of teas, ginger warms and aids in digestion. Cook with ghee, sesame, olive or coconut oil.
Vata types graze- eat small meals regularly. If more grounding is what you are desiring be a bit more consistent and regular with eating and meal times.
other lifestyle suggestions.
You are going to be more prone to activity, adventure, travel – energetic pursuits.. and this is great. To keep your dosha in balance and not overstimulated, however, make sure this is balanced with rest and quiet time. Yoga, naturally, can balance the dosha directly. Gardening, then cooking with herbs and veges from your own garden is one of the most grounding experiences you can have. It keeps you connected with the earth in the most literal sense. Hiking is also a good way for vatas to expend their energy, while connecting with nature and environment.
Cooler colours such as greens and blues further stimulate vata energy, so if you would like to calm down, surround yourself with warm colours such as browns, oranges, yellows and reds.
A nourishing ayurveda massage that tones the vata constitution would use rich nourishing oils such as sesame oil, to lubricate the joints and skin.
We love the Ayurveda Wellness Centre in Bondi Junction. Their treatments are top of the range and true to ancient traditions.
Daphne’s Ayurveda Workshops