In Ayurvedic philosophy, the five elements, namely – earth, water, fire, air and ether, combine together to form three dynamic forces called ‘doshas’. The term ‘dosha’ refers to ‘that which changes’. This is because the doshas are always moving in dynamic balance with each other. Doshas are the primary life forces or humours, and their dynamism is what makes life happen.
The three doshas are – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Here we take a look at the general characteristics of ‘Vata’ predominant constitution individuals, and the type of food and life they should lead.
‘Vata’ is a force made up of the elements ether and air. The proportions of ether (space) and air determine how active vata is. The amount of ether (space) affects the ability of air to gain momentum, and expresses itself in the individual of vata constitution. Vata manifests itself in an individual as the movement of nerve impulses, air, blood, food, waste and thoughts.
The six characteristics of vata are – cold, light, irregular, dry, mobile and rough. These qualities have their effect on the body. Too much of vata force can result in nerve irritation, high blood pressure, flatulence and confusion. Generally dry climates or cold autumn wind increases vata.
Generally, an individual with vata constitution may have the following characteristic or appearance, although it need not be true in all cases. A Vata-type person is either unusually tall or short, thin, has prominent joints, long tapering fingers and toes, gains weight around the middle, is of dark complexion with scanty body hair, small forehead, small active eyes, has dry skin and hair, dislikes dryness and cold, has dry tongue, tendency to develop nervous disorders if ill, has short concentration span, tends to forget quickly, dislikes routine, anxious, and feelings and emotions change quickly.
Food/Diet for vata types:
Ayurveda suggests different types of food, when a specific dosha predominates. The food to be taken/avoided by Vata types are:
Recommended: All sweet and sweeteners are good for pacifying vata, bitter things, oil, rice, black and green pulses, milk, curd, ghee, wine, sugar, garlic, amla, pomegranate, betel, currants, meat, fish, wheat, oranges, bananas, grapes, cherries, peaches, plums, mango, papayas, cucumbers, asparagus, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, mustard seeds, black pepper and sweet potatoes.
Prohibited: Barley, corn, rye, buckwheat, black gram, peanuts, leafy vegetables, dry food, bitter gourd, lotus root, reduce intake of all beans, except tofu and moong dhal.
Symptoms of vitiated Vata:
Various disorders of human body are attributed to each individual’s humour and an expert physician can determine as to which constitution the patient falls under, after examining the individual’s appearance and feeling the pulse. The expert can find out which of the dosha’s have been vitiated.
General ailments caused by vitiation of vata are:– Brittle nails, pain in feet, numbness and immobility of hands and feet, stiffness in heels, toes, cracking of knee, stiff thighs, pain in pubic region, backache, rapid pulsation, pain due to concussion of chest and lungs, headache, paralysis, vertigo, insomnia, etc., to name a few.
All these pains and aches in the body are caused by vitiated vata, and these are symptoms of air vitiation.
For reducing Vata dosha:
Consume warm foods and drinks, foods with predominantly sweet, sour or salty tastes. Have a good oil massage for body with sesame and essential oils. Avoid excess exposure to cold wind, excess travel, dampness, television, radio, movies, and excess talking. Practice yoga regularly, which helps in calming you down. The exercise adopted should be non-vigorous and non-exhaustive, like brisk walking or swimming. Have fibre-rich diet, and natural laxatives such as flax seeds and psyllium. Strictly avoid cold food and drinks. Have small frequent meals. Ensure that you go to bed before 10pm. Warm and moist climates suit Vata types the best. If living in cold weather conditions, take care to protect head, neck and chest, and to keep yourself warm.