Tips for a vata-balancing lifestyle


The things you do in any part of your life affect all parts of your life. This includes the choices you make about what to eat, what you do for entertainment, the company you keep -- each of these causes has an effect. So if you are trying to change the way you feel, you must look holistically at what you are doing to bring about the results you are getting.

The understanding that everything matters doesn’t have to overwhelm you; it can actually energize you because it gives you the tools to reach true health. The key is to take one step at a time to better health. The best place to start if you want to improve your overall health is by calming vata dosha.

​Treat vata dosha first 

If you have an Ayurvedic health consultation, the first step a practitioner will often take with you is calming vata dosha, regardless of your constitution. That is because when vata is imbalanced, it can quickly push pitta and kapha dosha out of balance. Sometimes calming vata is enough to make symptoms, regardless of their dosha origin, fall away. 

Vata’s qualities are cold, light, mobile and dry. When vata is high, you’ll see many of these manifest as symptoms: a feeling of always being cold, dry skin, a worrisome or scattered mind. When your body and mind begin to reflect vata’s qualities, look to vata-calming diet and lifestyle changes.

​A vata-calming lifestyle

We don’t talk much about lifestyle in modern society as a path to health, but it matters greatly. How you live and how you use your senses has a remarkable impact on how you feel. Sometimes very small changes, such as wearing a scarf over your head and neck on a windy day, will make a profound difference in calming vata and improving how you feel. But if a significant part of your lifestyle is contributing to high vata, such as a job that requires a lot of movement or travel, the healing that needs to happen is more long-term, and it will take internal work to reconnect to your priorities in life. Give yourself time and have patience as you work through the obstacles in your way of health. Take small steps and don’t try to tackle everything at once. Identify what is most important and start there.   

Calming vata is a daily practice in awareness. At some points in your life, you may need to do more to bring grounding to vata. At other times, you will find that it is easier to stay in balance. Tune in -- to yourself and the changes in your environment -- and let this list be a guide for self-care for the rest of your life. 

  1. ​Create a dinacharya: Vata needs structure. Irregularity in regular daily activities, such as waking up, eating and sleeping, will add to vata’s light and mobile qualities and increase uncertainty and fear in your life. A dinacharya, or daily routine, is a simple plan for living. By creating a simple morning and evening routine, setting times of day for eating, working and sleeping, you’ll give vata the structured guidance it needs to thrive.

  2. Abhyanga: Applying oil to your body is a grounding and nourishing practice in self-care. Your skin is your largest organ, so it’s especially good to use an herbal oil, such as ashwagandha-bala or bhringaraj in a vata-calming sesame oil base. When vata is very high, practice abhyanga daily. If you don’t feel you have time, rub a bit of oil on the bottoms of your feet and on the top of your head.

  3. Slow down: Multitasking divides your attention and creates a scattered mind. Build focus in every activity and you will build calm in your life. Don’t buy into the idea that you have to rush through your activities -- you’ll miss the joy of living that way. Do one thing at a time and give it the respect of your full attention.

  4. Take a break from traveling: Vata is aggravated by movement, such as in planes, trains and cars. Enjoying a moderate amount of travel can help you explore yourself as part of the world around you, but when travel happens too frequently, you will experience vata imbalance. When you do travel, practice abhyanga before and after and maintain your dinacharya for best results.

  5. Wear a scarf and cover your head if it’s windy or cold: Like causes like -- a windy day means that vata is high in the environment and will increase vata in you. Protect the back of your neck and your head and you’ll feel warmer and more grounded.

  6. Make eating a sacred act: When agni, digestive fire, is weak, vata is high. Imbalanced vata causes you to rush through eating or not be present at your meals, which will further weaken agni. Give your meal your full attention -- sit down and don’t distract yourself with your phone, television or reading. Be aware of each bite of food and chew it until it is liquid in your mouth. Experience your connection to nature through the food with each meal.

  7. Reducing screen time: So much of our lives happens through screens -- television, tablets, phones and computers. The flickering movement in these devices aggravates vata, so it’s important to have some discernment about their use. Take regular breaks from screens and create set times of day when you will use electronics. Allow these tools to function for you, not the other way around.

  8. Cultivate softness and comfort: Avoid loud music and prolonged exposure to sharp, penetrating sounds. Enjoy gentle activities that awaken you to enjoy the subtle realms of life. Sounds in nature are particularly nice for this.

  9. Try silence: One of the telltale signs that vata is high is excessive talking. You expend great amounts of energy talking, so making room in your life for silence can help you attain even energy levels throughout the day. A few hours of silence in the morning is nice to reconnect to the waking part of the day. When vata is high, take a day or more of silence.

Ayurveda is called “the science of life” because its teachings show you how to live at your optimum state in all levels of being. Ayurveda doesn’t just work with your physical body -- your mind and connection to the God of your heart also undergo healing in an Ayurvedic treatment plan. Many of the recommendations above work in the subtle realms, so they may seem insignificant if you are used to Western medicine, but healing happens on all levels, even if you aren’t regularly aware of it. Be open and allow your being to heal on all levels.

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