Ayurveda – Yoga’s ‘sister science’ of holistic medicine and preventative health care describes three Doshas or three constitutional types that each of us have in some combination. The Doshas are a system of classification that help us to understand our essential makeup which greatly influences our physical body, the function of our mind, our behaviors, beliefs and tendencies. Understanding your doshic balance helps you to know yourself better, and when used in a therapeutic setting can become a diagnostic tool to understand the root causes of imbalance, as well as understanding the steps you can take to enhance your health, vitality and self-evolvement.

Your doshic profile is based on your characteristic physical attributes as well as your thought patterns, tendencies and proclivities. We inherit our basic dosha type from our parents. Our prakruti (natural state) is determined at the time of conception and is a combination of the doshic balance of our parent’s at the time; we have a genetic pre-disposition towards a particular dosha and therefore a particular expression of self. Our prakruti is behind our physical structure and our innate tendencies, and influences our choices, our lifestyle and our stages of growth. As we grow and develop, our choices, the environments we spend time in, and our goals and experiences in life influence our doshic balance. Thus our vikruti, our current state of being, can sometimes drift from the prakruti our natural creative state. When the vikruti becomes altered, this is where a state of imbalance or ill-health manifests. Thus, all Ayurvedic practice is designed to bring the individual towards their natural state of prakruti.

The Doshas are made up of the five Great Elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. The three primary active Doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is air and ether, Pitta is fire and water, and Kapha is water and earth. Most people will find their constitution is formed by a combination of two doshas, with one slightly or strongly predominant.
Today let’s talk about Vata. Vata is the Dosha that is made up of Air and Ether. We all have Vata within us, to certain degrees. Vata helps us to breath, conducts our nerve impulses into movement and coordinates our senses. Vata helps us to be light enough to move, adapt and change, and assists in sustaining effort and maintaining movement and motivation in life. Those with a Vata predominant constitution would tend towards:
Thin, light, dry or rough skin, light hair, brittle nails, fine bone structure, angular or irregular features, tendency to be very short or very tall.
Tendency to have lots of ideas, very artistic and creative, very quick to learn new things. Can tend towards restlessness, nervousness, anxiety.
Very energetic, often moving from one project to another very quickly, tendency to choose careers that are artistic, creative, or intellectual.
Recognizable Vatas:
Models (very tall, angular, thin), Musicians (artistic, moving around the stage and moving around the globe), Actors (creative, changeable) examples include Mick Jagger and Michael J Fox.
Understanding your predominant dosha can help you to understand what elements are of principle influence in your body, as well as in thoughts, actions, interests and habits. Balancing the doshas is a matter of balancing these elements and their qualities ie: hot/cold, movement/stability, heaviness/lightness, to make the most of your natural constitution. As well, we can discover through a study of the doshas that when an imbalance occurs, we see too much of a certain element, which can be balanced by utilizing the other elements intelligently.
In the case of Vata, often the imbalance is caused by too much Air (movement) and Ether (space) causing the natural lightness and movement of the dosha to become excessively light and restless. Here are a few points about the Vata Dosha…does this feel familiar to you?

Signs of Vata Dosha Balance

  • Mental alertness, enthusiastic
  • Focused creative energy
  • Emotional balance
  • Sound sleep
  • Good elimination
  • Strong immune system
  • Healthy body function

Signs of Vata Dosha Imbalance

Excessive Vata
  • Worried, anxious, nervous, fearful
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue, tired but can’t relax
  • Lack of concentration, agitated mind
  • Impatient, fidgety, restless, hyperactive
  • Shy, insecure
  • Indecisive, tendency towards fantasy
  • Insomnia, waking often and can’t return to sleep
  • Arthritis, stiff and painful joints, pain in bones
  • Sensitive to cold
  • Flaky, dry skin and chapped lips
  • Fainting, heart palpitations, dizziness
  • Constipation, abdominal bloating, gas
  • Dry, sore throat, dry eyes
Problem Areas
  • Cervical Spine (Neck)
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Joints
  • Mental fatigue
  • Overexertion
Balancing Principles – How to Balance the Vata Dosha

Encourage principles of warmth, moistness, calm:

  • -taking a warm bath at night and doing a self-massage with warm oils
  • -eating warm, nourishing foods, eating slowly and without distractions

Develop regular lifestyle habits:

  • -eat, exercise, sleep and work at regular times.
  • -do not skip meals, and avoid foods that upset your digestive system

Restorative practices:

  • -daily meditation/relaxation
  • -long and slow stretches before bed
  • -restorative yoga
  • -slow, soothing massage

Develop confidence, trust, consistency

  • -refining your creative ideas and making them happen
  • -trusting your decisions and following through
  • -once you’ve started a project, see it through to completion

Next month we will continue the discussion of the Doshas. I hope that, whatever your Dosha, that you have found this introduction to Ayurveda and the Vata Dosha to be interesting and helpful in your life!

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