The concept of Vata comes from the Indian art of medicine, called Ayurveda. It is based on the idea of establishing health by bringing balance in the bodily systems through diet, herbal treatments, cleanses, and yoga.
Vata is a concept that embraces all that is light, cold, dry, and mobile. Vata literally means 'wind'. It governs all movement, including muscles, nerve impulses, and thoughts.
Determining your Ayurvedic typology is a complex process that needs to be done by a qualified and experienced Ayurvedic doctor. However, with some training it becomes possible to see one's own tendencies.The following characteristics will give you an idea of what Vata is.
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CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA
When a person has a lot of Vata or wind in their structure, they show a certain set of characteristics. When the wind in the system becomes too strong, the person suffers from a Vata Imbalance which will show itself in disharmonious symptoms.
Let's first have a look at the characteristics of Vata. These are the physical characteristics of a person with a predominant Vata dosha:
Physical characteristics of a person with Vata Dosha:
• Slender and does not put on weight easily
• Height is taller or shorter than average
• Hair, neck are all ‘thin’
• Energy fluctuates and comes in bursts
• Appetite is variable
• There is a tendency to become constipated
• Skin frequently becomes dry
• Cold hands and feet
• Light sleeper and may even have difficulty falling asleep
• Prefers warm, moist weather to cold weather
Psychological characteristics of a person with Vata Dosha:
• Creative and imaginative
• Active and restless
• Quick learner but forgets quickly
• Becomes ‘spaced out’ quite easily
• Tendency to feel anxious, nervous and insecure
• Speaks quickly and uses hand gestures
• Always on the go
• Irregular routine
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When Vata gets out of balance, it can produce fear, anxiety, nervousness, feelings of helplessness, mental and emotional instability, insomnia, agitation, irritability, excessive thinking, and lack of grounding. In such a case, we can use yoga postures to bring vata back into balance.
The following asanas produce an energetic compensation for your vata imbalance through grounding and stabilizing the mind. It is important that you perform all asanas in an as relaxed way as you can, with your eyes closed. Don't push or use your willpower. To balance Vata, you want to be as relaxed as possible and surrender yourself to the pose.
Hold all asanas for as long as you feel comfortable and gradually build up their duration. Start with 1 or 2 minutes, and gradually increase until you can hold all postures for 10 minutes.
YOGA POSTURES TO BALANCE VATA
Here follows my favourite vata-pacifying practice. It will make you feel grounded, centered, calm, and refreshed!
Start with a 10 minute relaxation. You can use a guided relaxation exercise, use relaxing music, or simply lie in shavasana.
This asana charges your body with vital energy. Holding this posture over longer periods of time produces grounding, mental stability, and a feeling of having roots or a connection to the earth.
Technique: Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. The legs are close together, but not touching. The legs are straight. Now sit up tall, and stretch your arms up. Fold forward and hold your legs, toes, or feet. Drop your head. Close your eyes. Relax. Focus on eath energy entering your legs and charging your Muladhara chakra.
Pavanmuktasana is the classical posture to balance Vata dosha. This asana produces a strong feeling of interiozation which makes it particlarly calming and centering - exactly what Vata needs!
Technique: Lie on your back and relax. Now bring your knees to your chest. Either hold onto your knees, or wrap your arms around your chins. Lift your head so that the nose points to the knees. Close your eyes and relax. Focus your awareness on the area of the navel. Keep your head off the ground for as long as possible, but when your neck gets tired, you can continue holding the pose while bringing your head back on the ground, or support your head with pillows if you have neck problems.
Halasana brings the stable and grounded energy of the earth to the mind. This will calm down the mental and emotional agitation of Vata and produces a steady lucidity.
Technique: Lie on your back and relax. Now swing your legs and hips up into the air and take your legs over your head. Place you feet onto the ground behind the head (or go as far as feels comfortable). Try to keep your legs straight. Stretch your arms out on the ground and keep them close together so that the weight is on the arms and not on your neck.
Vata needs relaxation! Finish your practice with a 15 minute relaxation. This can be a guided relaxation exercise, yoga nidra practice, or simply use relaxing music in the background.