“Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel” – Augustus Hare
The Vata Dosha is among the three Ayurvedic body principles that govern the human body’s constitution. Along with the Kapha and Pitta doshas, the Vata dosha also has an important role to play in a person’s overall wellbeing.
Vata Dosha and the Human Body
The Vata dosha is governed by the wind element, and in the human body, this translates to everything related to movement. Vata is responsible for ensuring that everything in the human body moves in the right channels and at the right speed – both nutrients as well as waste. Any blockage in movement can result in the stopping of life itself; due to this, Vata is often considered the most important of the three Ayurvedic doshas. The balance of Kapha and Pitta are often dependent on a good Vata dosha in the body. The Vata dosha is associated with feeling cold, dry, rough and it usually affects the following:
- Excretory system
An unbalanced Vata dosha can be identified by one or more of the following:
- Dry and rough skin
- Worry and anxiety
- Being underweight
- Vaginal Dryness
- Menstrual Cramps
- Lower back aches
Types of Vata Dosha
There are five types of Vata dosha, depending upon the kind of movement it governs within the body.
- Prana Vata – This dosha is one of the most important, as it regulates breathing as well as perception of the five senses. This dosha is located in the head, neck and chest.
- Udana Vata – This dosha governs speech and expression, and is present in the neck, chest and abdomen.
- Samana Vata – The Vata dosha deals chiefly with elimination and flatulence, and resides in the stomach and lower intestine.
- Apana Vata – This dosha is associated with all the other discharges and expulsions from the body like urine, menstrual blood, semen etc.
- Vyana Vata – This dosha is concerned with the heart – its beat, rhythm and circulation throughout the body.
Diet for Vata Dosha
Vata being dry, cool and light, it is recommended to have a diet that is warm and heavy with adequate amounts of oils. Since Vata has a predisposition to being underweight, larger portions are recommended, although overeating should be avoided. Here are more guidelines regarding a diet that can help balance the Vata dosha:
- Include about 3 teaspoons of oil, butter or ghee every day.
- Raw salads are best avoided and vegetables are better eaten cooked.
- Sweet food agrees with Vata, but to keep it healthy stick to low fat versions and use natural sweeteners.
- Dairy products are recommended, and milk is better digested when boiled.
- ‘Heavy’ fruits are preferred – mangoes, bananas, avocados, papaya, pineapples.
- In vegetables, opt for cruciferous ones like cauliflower and broccoli, and avoid gas producing options like cabbage and beans.
- Fruits are better digested when eaten on their own and not as part of a meal.
- Nuts and dry fruit are highly recommended for the Vata dosha.
- Opt for foods with a sweet, salty or sour taste; avoid pungent and bitter foods.
- Stay away from barley and rye; grains like rice and wheat suit Vata better.
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