How to Manage Your Stress through Vata Dosha
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
As we shift into colder weather, I want to revisit one of the core teachings of my work with Ayurveda: the three doshas. My clients and those of you who consistently read my blog may be familiar with the science of Ayurveda. We've discussed our relationship to the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, as well as the 20 Ayurvedic gunas. Today, I'd like revisit that knowledge and deepen it.
As a quick refresher - Ayurveda centers around the five elements (panchamahabhutas) within all of us: space, air, fire, water and earth. The three doshas are made of two elements; each and rule seasons, climates, phases of our lives and our body constitutions. We are currently in the midst of autumn and transitioning to winter, a Vata time of year. For this post, I'd like to focus on Vata imbalances and how to treat them.
What are the Qualities of Vata?
Think of the Vata dosha like an autumn leaf flitting around in a chilly breeze. Vata season is the time of mobility and cold temperatures. Its qualities, or gunas, are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. Vata is associated with our wisdom years as our bones become more brittle and our skin loses moisture. Finally, people with Vata constitutions tend to be more prone to anxiety due to the dosha's propensity toward constant movement.
As lovely as the transition from summer to fall can be, Vata often elicits feelings of stress and anxiety. Its mobile qualities tend to quicken the mind and cause our thoughts to spin out of control. Some of us may be feeling heightened stress about the upcoming holidays. Know that it is not just the holidays causing stress, our environment has a huge impact on our mind and body.
How to Identify Vata Imbalances
So, what are the signs in the body of Vata imbalance? Take a moment to observe your body. Notice if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Dry hair and skin
Gas and bloating
Lower back pain
An excess of anxious thoughts
For those of us seeing signs of Vata imbalance, know that there are a plethora of natural remedies that you can engage in at home.
Remedies to Address Vata Imbalance
When we feel Vata imbalances, we need to take actions that ground us. This can look like eating warming foods or engaging in slow, nurturing acts of self-care. Let's unpack some easy, natural remedies to soothe the Vata dosha.
The wonderful thing about nature is it inherently gives us the remedies we need. Think about the kinds of food that grow during this time of year: squash, gourds, pumpkins, etc. This kind of hearty vegetation gives us the grounding sustenance that we need to ease Vata imbalance.
I recommend cooking foods that represent opposite gunas to the Vata qualities. Try embracing, warm, rich, unctuous and oily foods like stews, soups and roasted veggies. Avoid acidic food and an excess of caffeine. We want to consume food and drinks that slow us down and ground us rather than exacerbate the quick-moving tendency of Vata.
Vata-Pacifying Physical Activities
One of the key elements of Vata is space. We hear people say "I need space" often. Or perhaps, you feel too much space in the winter and want to close that gap through a warm blanket or physical touch.
If are you are feeling the anxious shadow of Vata, I encourage you to honor your spacial needs. Take a mindful, slow-paced walk. Or conversely, lie down under a weighted blanket and let yourself enjoy its grounding effect. Whether you're on the move or surrounded by comforters, practice slow, mindful breathing.
One of my favorite Vata-pacifying tools is a morning massage. As we've discussed, our skin and hair dries out during the winter due to the lack of moisture in the air. Try giving yourself a morning massage with warm sesame or olive oil. This technique, also known as Abhyanga, stimulates blood flow, provides a protective layer of oil against bacteria and pacifies Vata imbalance. If you don't have time in the morning, try giving yourself a loving bedtime foot massage.
Speaking of bedtime - sleep is crucial to feeling a sense of balance. To facilitate a restful bedtime, listen to your favorite peaceful music or soundscape. Whether you love Clair De Lune or the sound of rain fall, give your sense of hearing a gift before bed.
Ease Your Stress Through Small Routine Adjustments
I hear a lot of discussion about self-care revolving around eating chocolate and taking a long bath. While desserts and bubble baths are lovely treats, reducing stress starts with changing your daily routine. We cannot wait for the weekend or vacation to release anxiety; we need long lasting solutions to ease anxiety. I invite you to try 1-2 of these small adjustments and notice the change in how you feel.
Do you want to know more about your Ayurvedic dosha? Are you interested in trying natural stress reduction? As we navigate Vata season, I am here to help you maintain grounded and loving practices each day. Schedule your free breakthrough session with Lauren Baptiste. This session will help you identify how to customize a health plan that's made for you.