Vata (Air) Herbs (Dry, Cold, Light)

The word vata means to blow or move like the wind. The vata dosha is said to be made up of the air and ether elements. This means that it has qualities which are similar to these elements. Vata is very much like the wind–it is light, cool, dry and mobile. In the body, those people with a vata nature experience more of these qualities. Their bodies tend to be light, their bones thin, and their skin and hair dry. They often move and speak quickly. When out of balance, they may lose weight, become constipated and have weakness in their immune and nervous systems

These qualities also reflect in their personality. Those with a vata nature tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, flexible, and energetic. Yet, when out of balance they may also become easily confused and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing and making decisions and have trouble sleeping. This becomes more apparent when they are under stress. Emotionally they are challenged by cool emotions like worry, fear, and anxiety.

In order to bring balance to vata, programs are designed which emphasize the opposing qualities of warmth, heaviness (nourishment), moistness, and stability. In the diet, this is reflected in the consumption of cooked grains such as rice and cooked vegetables, as well as the intake of warm milk with spices. Pungent herbs like ginger which increase internal heat and nourishing herbs like ashwagandha bring balance to Vata. Ayurvedic programs include not only herbs and diet but also color and aroma therapies, detoxification, yoga, and meditation.

Summary:

The qualities of vata are: dry, cold, light in weight, dark in color, rough in texture, clear, dry, astringent, subtle, moveable, changeable, expansive, irregular, and dynamic.

In the body, vata governs: physiological processes related to movement (including movement of the body, movement of the digestive system), creativity, grace and balance, movement of thoughts and electrical impulses, the spark of excitement that drives us, the generative force for all action.

When balanced, vata is: graceful, smooth, light, mobile, intuitive, creative, lyrical, dry.

When out of balance, vata is: spacey, forgetful, overly dry or dried out (includes creak joints, skin, digestive system, hair, nails), hypersensitive, sensitive to stimulation, dry cough, hiccups, difficulty staying asleep, difficulty with memory.

Things that throw vata out of balance are: excess stimulation, overly dry foods, a preponderance of raw foods, an excess of bitter and astringent tastes, not enough sleep, stimulants such as caffeine, the windy and dry fall season, travel, airplane flights, lots of talking, overwork, unreasonable expectations.

Bring vata back into balance with: warmth, oiliness, regularity (including at regular times each day), rest, quiet, soothing music, soft touch/massage, soupy liquid foods, the sweet taste (healthy sweets), salty and sour foods. Vata is related to the senses of sound (the air element, since sound waves move via air movements) and touch (since the ether element, the space around all things allows us to feel touch).

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