Understanding Vata dosha

Dru yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic massage in Bicester – Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape!

Understanding Vata dosha

A few days ago, I blogged about Ayurvedic massage and promised I would write more about the Ayurvedic doshas at a later date…well…here I am, ready to blog away!

The doshas 

The systems of the body are governed by certain rhythms, as seen in nature. The doshas govern these systems. The word “dosha” is Sanskrit and means “the one which can pollute the body”. Doshas are described in this way because when they are in balance, we are healthy; if they are imbalanced, we become ill. In Ayurvedic massage we look at doshic imbalance (Vikriti), whereas an Ayurvedic practitioner establishes your natural state (Prakriti) and looks at how this differs from your Vikriti. All three doshas are needed for balance in the body and  derive from the five elements (Ether, air, fire, water, and earth). Today, I’m going to look at the air and ether dosha, Vata.

Flow like the wind – introducing Vata dosha

Vata translates as “that which moves things” so it’s not surprising that this dosha is associated primarily with air/wind (vayu) and ether/space (akasa). In nature, the principles of Vata are observed in the wind and the tides. Vata is known as the “King of the doshas” as it governs movement and can pull the other doshas (Pitta and Kapha) out of balance. Without Vata, Pitta and Kapha are inert. In the body, Vata is responsible for all movement (including breathing, blinking, cellular signalling, circulation, contraction, expansion, nerve impulses, seeing, speaking, thinking, and touching). You might have come across Prana (life-force) during your yoga classes; Prana is the mental form of Vata. A pretty impressive list…no wonder Vata is King of the doshas!

Vata locations

The primary seat of Vata is the colon but Vata can also be divided into five subtypes, called the five winds (pancha vayu).

  • Prana vayu (moves inwards) – brain, head, heart, lungs, and throat.
  • Samana vayu (moves across) – intestines and stomach.
  • Udana vayu (moves upwards) – navel, lungs, and throat.
  • Apana vayu (moves downwards) – bladder, colon, genitals, rectum, and reproductive organs.
  • Vyana vayu (moves outwards) – blood circulation, nervous system, and skin.

Characteristics of Vata

If your predominant dosha is Vata, you are likely to have many of the following characteristics:

Physical characteristics

  • Thin, light body.
  • Agile.
  • Angular or irregular features.
  • Dry skin and hair.
  • Rough and cracked skin.
  • Wiry, dark, curly/wavy hair.
  • Dull but active, small eyes with thin eyelashes.
  • Thin, bony nose
  • Few moles (dark in colour).
  • Cold hands and feet.
  • Sensitive digestion.
  • Prominent veins and tendon.
  • Sweat very little.
  • Light, restless sleepers.
  • Irregular eating and appetite.
  • Scanty urination.
  • Bursts of energy.

Emotional characteristics

  • Creative.
  • Fast talkers and good communicators.
  • Open to new experiences.
  • Anger flashes.
  • Forgiving.
  • Sensitive.
  • Enthusiastic.
  • Lively.
  • Mentally alert – good short-term memory but poor long-term memory.
  • Friendly and generous.
  • Not materialistic.

Balancing Vata

Vata in balance

When a person who is predominantly Vata is in balance they tend to have a lean body and be energetic, creative, lively, and enthusiastic.


Vata out of balance

When Vata becomes imbalanced, a person may experience:

  • Weight loss.
  • Excessive chill.
  • Constipation.
  • Fatigue.
  • Hypertension.
  • Arthritis/joint problems.
  • Restlessness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Nervous disorders such as anxiety.
  • Indecision and forgetfulness.
  • Poor circulation.
  • Brittle nails.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Over-sensitivity.

Things that may increase Vata

  • Cold, windy weather.
  • No routine, irregularity.
  • Over stimulation.
  • Poor sleep.
  • Over-exertion.
  • Fasting.

Top tips for Vata

If you are predominantly Vata, here are a few tips which might help you stay in balance.

  • Eat a Vata-pacifying diet (more on that another time, but basically food with warm, oily, heavy, sweet, sour, salty qualities)
  • Eat in a peaceful, quiet environment…and remember to eat at regular times.
  • Spend time in nature (this is good for everyone though!).
  • Stick to a regular daily routine.
  • Have oil massages (such as Ayurvedic massage with sesame, almond, avocado, or bhringaraj oil).
  • Meditate daily (I like to use the Dru earth meditation to ground).
  • Do gentle, rhythmic exercises with fluid movements,  like yoga, dancing, swimming, tai chi, or walking.

Remember, nothing in this blog should take the place of advice given to you by your healthcare practitioner, so always be safe!

Hope you enjoyed this post! I will be back tomorrow with Pitta dosha. Namaste!