Tis’ Da Vata Season – Vata Balancing Practices for Fall
Ahhh Vata, the dosha of space and air. The dosha of movement and force governing all biological activity. Vata, often called the King of the doshas (as it governs the body’s greater lifeforce that gives motion to Kapha and Pitta) is in my humble opinion, the dosha most out of balance, in today’s fast-paced society. With information and people travelling more and faster than ever before combined with this volatile, unsure external climate we find ourselves in, I believe Vata best reflects the current state of our culture.
With many of us experiencing the effects of excess Vata, including:
· Difficulty sleeping
· Food allergies (particularly wheat & dairy)
· Digestive problems such gas, bloating & constipation
· Premature aging
· High or Low blood pressure
· Feeling emotionally delicate or “thin-skinned”
· Problems with memory
It’s more important than ever to consider practices to help balance out this dosha
While understanding our dominant / out of balance dosha in Ayurveda is important, it’s just as important to combine this information with the season in order to find balance - regardless of your constitution.
Why? According to Ayurveda, the qualities the seasons can either increase or decrease those same qualities in us. For example, Fall is the season of Vata, when it’s generally more cool, light, dry and windy – just like the Vata dosha, which can really throw a Vata out of balance.
For this reason, it’s extra important for someone with high Vata in their constitution to take extra care in the fall.
As the weather becomes cooler in late fall, it’s generally recommended for all to favor warm foods & drinks, include more heavy and oily foods in our diet, practice Abyaghnada warm oil massages, cover head on windy days, avoid sleeping in cold draft, avoid fasting and stay well hydrated. Plenty of rest and relaxation is also highly recommended. Permission to relax – yes please. 😊
While a balanced Vata individual will be creative, adaptable, enthusiastic, compassionate, charismatic, perceptive, alert and a strong communicator, an inbalanced Vata will tend to overthink, be spacey and ungrounded, procrastinate, lack confidence, have a hard time focusing, be impatient, zone out in conversations, be emotionally delicate, have an addictive tendencies and be inclined to fear, anxiety and depression.
So what can we do? A great start is to identify ways we will further aggravate our Vata:
Ways you will increase your Vata
· Eating aggravating foods, eating on the run or eating while anxious, angry or depressed or to off-set emotions
· Drinking alcohol, coffee, or black tea
· Smoking cigarettes
· Following an irregular daily routine
· Going to bed late
· Frequent travelling / on the go lifestyle
· Engaging in excess physical of sexual activity
· Too much sensory stimulus (TV, loud music, excessive talking, violent media, loud noises)
· Suppressing inner creativity & emotional sensitivity
· Failing to make changes with the seasons
Next, it is often helpful to incorporate Vata balancing practices into our life. Start with one or 2 to not get overwhelmed.
Practices to find Balance
· Eat in a quiet and peaceful environment – try to just focus on eating, don’t be on your phone, watching tv or multi-tasking. If possible, eat alone, in silence, focusing on the foods: flavors & textures as you eat
· Follow a regular daily routine as much as possible – try to wake up and go to bed around the same time each day – ideally within a 1 hour time frame. Try to go to sleep early if possible – if you are a night owl, perhaps even begin with going to sleep even 1 hour earlier than usual.
· Avoid any artificial stimulants (caffeine, nicotine, drugs)
· Meditate daily
· Practice gentle physical activity – gentle yoga, tai chi, swimming is great, tai chi, brisk walking in nature – barefoot is great for grounding that Vata energy
· Take time to rest each day – short yoga nidra, or 10 minutes in a restorative posture simply breathing with eyes closed
· Laugh and smile more 😊
· Incorporate colors like orange, green & white into your environment – wearing these colors or even focusing on them as a focal point in meditation is great
· Listen to calming music – classical, piano, instrumental, binaural beats, particularly before bed. Volume not too loud. Just lie down in savasana or your favorite restorative
· Massage your body daily (with the exception of when you are menstruating) with warm oil – sesame is great for Vata (if you are feeling cool), with added essential oils such as lavender, rose or sandalwood oil. This is one of the top grounding practices for Vata. Do it!
· Wear warming gems and stones – ruby, lapis and amethyst are great for Vata
· Get in touch with emotions via introspective activities like free flow writing / journaling, gratitude list each day
· Spend time with grounded people – those with strong Kapha in their constitution, those who you feel calm around
· Yoga: Tree pose, Warrior 2, forward bend – standing or seated, childs pose, long savasana – try holding each posture for at least 1 minute, slow and mindful transition from posture to posture
· Breathwork: Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing)
Finally, have a look at your diet and perhaps consider incorporating more Vata balancing foods into your life:
The Vata Balancing Diet
Grains: Heavier whole grains such as rice, wheat, quinoa, couscous, tapioca and oats are best for Vata.
Avoid corn, millet, rye and puffed cereals as they are generally too light and drying.
Some Vata types will have a hard time digesting wheat due to a weakened digestion – yeasted breads can also be aggravating due to its gas promoting qualities. Take note of how you feel after eating these types of foods, to see if you should moderate.
Fruits: Sweet fruits such as apricots, bananas, raspberry, strawberry, dates, coconuts, apples, figs, grapefruits, grapes, mangos, melons, oranges, papayas, peaches, pineapples, plums, berries, cherries, apricots, and avocados. Dried fruits can also be eaten, but not too much.
The following general rule applies to fruit consumption: at least one hour before or after meals, but not in the evening.
Veggies: Heavy, moist veggies such as squash, sweet potatoes, avocado, cooked carrots, beets, pumpkin, radish, mustard greens, green beans, winter squash, cucumber. Moderation on gas forming veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and onions – with onions should be cooked. It is also common for Vata types to be sensitive to nightshades – tomato / eggplant. Cooked / steamed veggies are best, raw are not recommended due to their rough, hard nature making them harder to digest. Juicing is okay, as it makes raw veggies easier to digest.
Legumes: Mung beans are best suited for Vata – Mung Dahl – split mung beans are best. In moderation Vata can enjoy: Aduki beans, black lentils, red lentils, soy milk/cheese, tofu. Avoid larger harder to digest legumes such as lima beans, black beans, chickpeas, tempeh, white beans. Soaking or sprouting legumes before cooking is key, as it helps with digestibility and decreases gas. Cooking legumes with pungent spices such as cumin, ginger, turmeric or asafetida will help with digestion.
Nuts & Seeds: All nuts, seeds & coconut are good for Vata, especially in the form of nut butters and milks which are easier to digest. Roasting nuts with a little salt, or simply soaking them in water is highly beneficial for Vata. Sesame seeds & soaked and peeled almonds are best.
Dairy: Yogurt (not frozen), ghee and organic cow’s milk are particularly nourishing for Vata. Since Vata types are the most prone to food sensitivities/allergies, cow’s milk – especially the mass produced varieties can cause problems. To help with digestibility, boil milk and allow to cool to room temp before drinking. Soft cheeses are preferred to hard cheeses. Avoid powdered milks. Eggs decrease Vata in moderation, but if you find yourself hot and fiery, avoid them as they aggravate pitta which is also quite high for you.
Oils & Fats: Oils are key in the Vata diet. Sesame oil, Olive oil & Ghee are the best choices. Coconut is good for those with high Pitta in their constitution too – which I think you mentioned you have. 😊
Herbs & Spices: Most spices are very beneficial for Vata – especially sea salt, ginger and garlic. Limit cayenne as it tends to be drying.
Sweeteners: Any natural sweetener can be used in moderation. Maple Syrup, brown rice syrup, Jaggery are best. Avoid white sugar. Honey in moderation as it tends to be drying, but with your Kapha this increases you capacity to handle.
Drinks: Drink plenty of water each day – this is very important for Vata types. Adding fresh lemon or lime is beneficial. Fruit juices – especially sour is great and herbal teas as well. If wanting to consume alcohol, wine is okay in moderation but avoid beer and hard alcohol as these will aggravate the Vata. Caffeine is also generally a no go, however when I choose to caffeinate, I go for lattes or matcha latte with the addition of cardamom to help combat the acidity and add the fat to help with digestion. A spoon of ghee can also be added.
Carbonated drinks and ice cold drinks are not recommended.
Meats: Vata types are the most suited for the consumption of meat, as generally meat is known to be grounding, but quality is key. Deep water fish, chicken (both meat & eggs), red meat and duck are all said to be pacifying for Vata, however in general Ayurveda does not recommend the daily consumption of meat for any doshic type due to its difficulty to digest and rajasic and tamasic qualities. Avoid lamb, pork, white turkey meat and venison.
While these are all general suggestions, I highly suggest a personalized Ayurvedic consultation for more detailed suggestions and information. Send me a message if you are interested.
Happy Fall! Stay grounded my friends.