Episode 71: Ayurveda Routines to Balance Vata
This week I wanted to move further into Ayurveda. As a recap, Ayurveda has 3 main doshas or mind body types - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We may have the qualities of one dosha, two, or even a combination of all three may be present with someone who is tri-dosha. When we recognise which of the doshas have become out of balance we can focus on working with the opposite qualities of that dosha to bring it or them back into balance.
Which dosha we want to focus on balancing will depend on our personal health goals. For example, if your primary health goal is to lose weight, more than likely we would look to balance Kapha- however, it's not always this straight forward. If we are over-eating due to stress or anxiety it may be that the nervous system is out of balance, which may require us to look at balancing Vata dosha first, or incorporating some Vata practices into the treatment plan.
If you are a person who has an excess in Pitta, you may find you get quite impatient, or even angry and overcompetitive. To help balance and reduce these Pitta qualities and make a significant difference you need to look at the whole picture, if this person also suffers from anxiety it may also be a case of introducing some Vata practices too. A health coach can be a wonderful guide to enable you to look at your mind, your physical body and also your emotional factors to create a plan to bring you back to balance, working with your health priorities but also focusing on not aggravating any health concerns that may also be present.
We are focusing on balancing Vata routines in this episode, and if you are unsure where to start Vata dosha is the queen of the doshas and a good place to begin! With Vata dosha in particular, if we are feeling spaced out and airy we may experience some bloating, gas or popping of the joints. To alleviate this we need to focus on increasing things that are opposites to counteract this such as heavy or lubricating elements.
Balance in Vata is key when it comes to managing anxiety. I recently spoke about the connection between Ayurveda and how my journey began to get my own anxiety under control in podcast episode 70- How Ayurveda Helped Control My Anxiety, click here to listen now!
What can throw Vata out of balance?
Vata can become out of balance and aggravated by an excess of dry qualities', this could include dry food, a dry climate or lack of hydration. The lack of intake of oils we experience may be oils in our skin or oils that we consume through cooking and the food we eat. Symptoms of excess dryness may include visibly dry skin, cracking or popping joints, constipation or joint pain.
Another quality that can aggravate Vata can be lightness, this could be from lots of travel or if we are undereating, or if we incorporate excessive fasting into our habits. Having too many light and airy qualities' in our lifestyle may leave us feeling ungrounded, lightheaded and maybe even experiencing weight loss. A further element that can aggravate the Vata dosha is the cold, especially at this time of year as we move into winter now. Also if you are drinking too many cold drinks, eating lots of cold food or if you have too much exposure to cold weather, I'm sure many of us can relate to feeling stiffness in the joints at this time of year that can feel uncomfortable. Or maybe you'll experience cold hands and feet as we may have poor circulation. If we are eating lots of cold foods we may be putting out our digestive fire, this can also throw our dosha out of balance.
The rough quality can also throw the Vata dosha out of balance, this could be from an intake from lots of raw foods or beans. Symptoms can include constipation, bloating or cracking joints. If we think of a piece of sandpaper, it feels rough and stimulating; whereas a soft blanket is much more relaxing and soothing on the skin. If we have an irregular lifestyle with little to no time for rest, or find that we are always multi-tasking or rushing around from one thing to the next we could begin to throw our dosha out of balance and into an excess and experience feelings such as breathlessness or insomnia. This could also show up as over-talking in my experience, or even ticks and tremors. ADHD can also be linked to this as well.
I'm so passionate about supporting people to find better balance and routines are absolutely essential as part of this. When Vata people are out of balance and routine they tend to behave more sporadically, they can feel overwhelmed and disorganized, perhaps finding it hard to focus. Therefore getting back to the point if you have more balance and structure in your life it ensures that we have practices in place they're going to serve you on many levels.
When it comes to creating a balanced Vata it can help to incorporate plenty of hydration, choosing warm drinks can also help to combat the cold element too. Perhaps starting the day with a fresh ginger tea and sipping this throughout the day, particularly 20- 30 minutes before meals can support our digestion also. When it comes to warm foods, choosing sweet, sour and salty tastes can help to nourish our body, are Vata balancing and also support the light qualities that may be aggravated.
Vata Balancing Routines
When it comes to our daily routines, our evening and bedtime routines are a good place to start. Ideally we should aim to be in bed by 10.00pm to get the most restful sleep pattern and help to ensure we get the 7-9 hours recommended sleep as adults. Its also most beneficial to wake early as the sun starts to rise, we can then fully take advantage of the cortisol rush which comes from early rising. Rather than perhaps feeling sluggish if we have overslept. Once we awake and have a warm drink, I then suggest taking some slow, quiet time just for you. This may include 5-10 minutes of slow yoga or grounding practices, some laying down poses, simple breath practices such as deep belly breathing or alternate nostril breathing. If you like to shower in the morning, you could introduce a self oil massage into your routine to combat dryness. Choosing a warm oil such as sesame oil to balance Vata can also support your muscles and joints, seeping into the skin, tissues and supporting the body, mind and organs. This oil can then be washed away in the shower, leaving us hydrated.
I also recommend trying to avoid looking at your screens during this time, this will enable your mind to feel less busy and take in less sensory oppressions which might affect your mental state. You can then focus on taking that time each morning to connect with yourself, your body and discover what it really is that you need.
When it comes to an evening routine to support your winddown before bed that can also support Vata, you may find another short, slow yoga practice beneficial, perhaps holding your favourite poses for 3-5 minutes. You could also try a relaxing face massage, this can release mental burdens and tension in the face and mind. If it's accessible for you, you could even try a foot massage to relieve tensions further. If you prefer to shower in the evenings, you could again incorporate warm oils or spend time moisturizing and nourishing your skin afterwards.
With us currently being in the winter here in the UK as the evenings draw in this can also be the perfect time to try some candle gazing. Simply begin to watch the flame move in a mindful way, we can then begin to take in the warmth and light from the candle. Why not wrap up with comfortable cushions and blankets to support the soft, warm Vata qualities or even try a relaxing guided Yoga Nidra where you can simply be guided by a voice. Yoga Nidra works with the different brain wave states, helping us eventually move through the body and the emotional states down to our core, or the bliss state. Allowing us to move into the delta brainwaves, leaving us feeling relaxed and rested like we are in a deep sleep.
To summarize these are all recommendations and methods you could incorporate into your daily morning and/or evening routines. It all depends on your preferences, time, support and environment. If you implemented a couple of recommendations from this episode you would start to feel a difference. Perhaps this all sounds appealing to you and you can see the areas of your routine that could be altered, or maybe this all sounds too much and you don't feel you have the energy to start a new routine. Remember if you want to feel different, you need to make changes otherwise you will remain stuck and stagnant. If you prioritise you and start and end your day with things that help you to feel better the knock on affect is huge, not just for you and your health but also the ripple effect this creates around you also.
If you would like to listen in to the 19 minute podcast episode around this topic, you can click here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading, I invite you to share this with a friend for some accountability! What is it that you're going to try out in your daily routine to support your health? I would love it if you share this with me also, or simply reach out if you would like to chat about this in more detail.
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Love, Sam x