Vata dosha is the Ayurvedic mind-body type that is associated with air and space. It’s light, cool, and dry in nature and it governs all movement in the mind and body, including blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing, and the movement of thoughts across the mind.
Since Pitta and Kapha cannot move without it, Vata is considered the leader of the three Ayurvedic Principles in the body. It’s very important to keep Vata in good balance.
All About Vata + Lifestyle Recommendations
If you are Vata-predominant, your body is naturally thin and slender. Your mind is enthusiastic and moves quickly, though you may be prone to forget things just as easily as you learn them. Your hands and feet might tend to get cold easily, your skin might be cool and dry to the touch, and sleep might be a bit elusive. Not sure what your Ayurvedic constitution is? Take our Dosha Quiz to learn your unique mind-body type and receive personalized recommendations!
Vata in Balance
- energetic and vivacious
- learns easily
- clear and alert mind
- falls asleep easily at bedtime
- balanced digestion and elimination
- good circulation and even body temperature
Vata out of Balance
- tired and/or fatigued
- lack of focus or forgetful
- spaced out or scattered
- difficulty falling asleep
- occasional constipation
- can feel cold physically
- poor circulation – cold hands and feet
- feelings of anxiousness or worry
The Five Subdoshas of Vata
Vata governs all movement in the mind and body. Within Vata dosha, there are five distinct subdoshas that are responsible for moderating movement in various parts of the physiology.
They are as follows:
Prana Vata: Governs the senses, creative thinking, reasoning, and enthusiasm. When out of balance, Prana Vata can lead to worry, an overactive mind, sleep problems, and difficulty breathing.
Udana Vata: Governs the quality of voice, memory and movements of thought. When out of balance, Udana Vata can lead to respiratory issues, throat and ear discomfort, and general fatigue.
Samana Vata: Governs movement of food through digestive tract. If Samana Vata moves out of balance, it can cause slow or rapid digestion, gas, intestinal cramps, poor assimilation, and weak tissues.
Apana Vata: Governs elimination of wastes, sexual function and menstrual cycle. If out of balance, Apana Vata can lead to intestinal cramps, menstrual problems, lower back pain, irregularity, occasional diarrhea or constipation, and gas.
Vyana Vata: Governs blood flow, heart rhythm, perspiration and sense of touch. When out of balance, Vyana Vata can cause dry or rough skin, nervousness, shakiness, poor blood flow, and stress-related problems.
For more info about the five subdoshas of Vata, click here.
Tips for Balancing Vata
Because Vata dosha is cool, light, and dry, it benefits from things that warm it up and from foods that are heavy in nature and easy to digest. Raw foods are harder particularly on vata predominant people. If you have a predominance of Vata dosha, a regular routine with adequate sleep is one of the best antidotes to Vata’s light, variable nature.
People with strong Vata tendencies often find themselves rushed or in a hurry. If that’s the case for you, try cultivating the habit of regularity of routine and slowing down, which will greatly benefit your mental, emotional and physical health. Here are some other easy ways to pacify Vata dosha:
- Favor warm, oily, heavy foods and sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Favor cooked foods over raw foods. See full Vata Diet guidelines below.
- Drink Organic Vata Tea and season meals with Organic Vata Churna.
- Diffuse Calming Vata Aroma Oil in your home or office.
- Go to bed early, well before ten o’clock, and rise early, before 6:00 a.m. If falling asleep is an issue and you are having occasional worry, try our Worry Free and Blissful Sleep one hour before bed. Supplement with Ashwagandha during the day.
- Get lots of rest.
- Follow a regular routine.
- Don’t skip meals. Eat three warm, cooked meals per day, aiming to have them at about the same time each day. Vata digestion tends to be irregular. By eating at the same time, your digestive enzymes will be in the habit of preparing to digest the food and digestion will be stronger.
- Try to have regular, daily elimination. If occasional constipation is an issue, Organic Digest ToneTriphala Plus) is an effective daily digestive toner. Supplement with Amla Berry if needed.
- Avoid work that is stressful, and practice relaxing exercise such as taking walks, yoga and pranayama (breathing exercises).
- A daily oil massage (abhyanga) is especially important for Vata, and the Youthful Skin Massage Oil helps alleviate dry skin that is often a result of Vata imbalance.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, or staying up late watching TV.
- Stay warm in cool or cold, windy weather. Keep your feet warm, wear socks to bed.
- Reduce mental stress with meditation and/or yoga. The Transcendental Meditation® program, for instance, has been proven in hundreds of scientific studies to be a very effective technique for dissolving mental, emotional and physical stress.
The Vata-Pacifying Diet
In Ayurveda, food is medicine. A Vata-pacifying diet will go a long way toward providing the warmth, grounding, and nourishment that Vata needs to stay balanced. Follow these guidelines to keep Vata nurtured:
Food should be fresh, well-cooked, tasty, pleasing, and satisfying. Take your meals regularly, at the proper time – morning, noon, and evening. Eat the proper amounts of food at each meal, avoid over- or undereating. You should feel hungry by the next meal, but not ravenous. Snack a bit between meals as long as it does not dampen the feeling of hunger by your next meal. Eat in a quiet, relaxing environment. Favor organically grown foods and avoid genetically modified foods (GMO’s).
In general, diet is a self-referral process. When you eat, listen to your body and be quietly alert to how you feel over the next 12 hours and adjust your diet accordingly. Remember that your body also responds differently to foods during the different seasons, so you can adjust your diet seasonally. Times to favor a Vata-balancing diet may be during Vata season (autumn-winter; cold, dry, windy, and changing weather); in old age (as we age, Vata increases in our bodies, so we can follow a Vata-balancing diet if this brings comfort); and in case of a Vata imbalance in the physiology.
|Favor||Reduce or Avoid|
|Summary||Vata can eat! Don’t hold back. Enjoy those heavy comfort foods: unctuous foods, warm food and drinks. Favor sweet, sour and salty tastes.||Light and dry food; avoid cold food and drinks; minimize pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.|
|Grains||Wheat products, rices (basmati, jasmine, and heavy sweet rices are all good), cooked oat flakes.||Barley, corn, millet, rye, buckwheat, and raw oats (all harder to digest for delicate Vata’s).|
|Pulses||Soup of mung beans, split whole mung beans, red lentils, yellow mung dhal (pulses can be soaked overnight for faster cooking). Enjoy Vata-balancing spices.||Pulses, with the exception of easy-to-digest ones. Vata-dominant types know pretty quickly which ones are “easy” to digest.|
|Dairy||All dairy products. Cheese should be soft and fresh (paneer, cottage cheese, fresh mozzarella, and cream cheese are all examples of easy-to-digest, lightly-aged cheeses).|
|Sweeteners||All sugar cane products such as unprocessed white rock sugar/natural candy sugar, raw cane sugar, molasses, maple syrup, and raw unheated honey.||Heated pasteurized honey. Foods with honey cooked in them.|
|Oils||All (ghee is recommended for cooking).|
|Nuts & Seeds||All nuts except peanuts; seeds in small amounts.||Peanuts|
|Spices and Condiments||Cumin, ginger, mustard seeds, fenugreek, asafoetida, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise, fennel, black pepper (small amounts), salt, lemon juice, tamarind (Asian fruit); Vata Churna and Vata Tea (ready-made mixtures of spices and herbs that balance Vata).|
|Vegetables||White pumpkin, zucchini, okra, artichoke, asparagus, tender eggplant, carrot, beetroot (beets), sweet potato (with ghee or butter), tomato, tender radish, celery root, green papaya, spinach.||Green leafy vegetables, orange pumpkin and squash, peas, potato, sprouts, mature eggplant and radish, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery stalk, chicory, cucumber.|
|Fruits||Ripe, sweet and juicy fruits: sweet grapes, pomegranate, mango, papaya, sweet pineapple, banana, avocado, sweet and juicy apples and pears, sweet orange, melons, plums, cherries, raisins, dates, prunes, figs, kiwi fruit, peach, apricot. Dried fruit should be soaked.||Unripe, dry, sour fruits: guava, cashew fruit, cranberries, dried persimmon.|
NOTE: Guidelines provided in this table are general. Specific adjustments for individual requirements may need to be made, e.g., food allergies, strength of agni, season of the year and degree of dosha predominance or aggravation. Before making any changes to your diet, it is recommended that you check with your physician. This ayurvedic dietary guide is educational and is not intended to treat, cure, mitigate or prevent any disease.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.