Understanding Your Vata Constitution

Banyan Visuals Manager, Maggie

 

According to Ayurveda, your constitution is established at conception, cemented at birth, and remains constant over the course of your lifetime. It influences your physiology, your physique, your likes and dislikes, your tendencies and habits, your mental and emotional character, as well as your vulnerabilities toward imbalance and disease. It is defined by the particular combination of vata, pitta, and kapha that you were born with, and it represents your body’s natural state of equilibrium. Because your constitution serves as your blueprint for optimal health, understanding it—with the help of curiosity and self-awareness—can be truly enlightening. Our intention here is to introduce you to your constitution and to give you some of the tools necessary to begin to develop a deeper understanding.

It’s important to know that we all have all three doshas in our constitutions: vata, pitta, and kapha. But the ratio between them—the specific quantitative and qualitative relationship between the three—is entirely unique to you. That said, as a vata type, your constitution is distinctly vata-predominant, and you probably have a lot in common with other vata types who share that core distinction.

What Ayurveda Knows About You

While there is undoubtedly no one quite like you out there, it is remarkable how accurate Ayurveda can be in predicting who we are—based simply on the broad strokes of our constitutions. As you read through this introduction, and start to piece together the ways in which vata has shaped your constitution, you will probably begin to see your particular strengths and vulnerabilities more clearly. And as your understanding of your constitution expands, your capacity to use these insights to your advantage will also improve. Below are a number of traits that you can likely attribute to your constitution.

Physical Characteristics

Please keep in mind that distinguishing physical characteristics should always be considered within the context of your ethnicity. For example, traits like eye color, skin color, or hair type are assessed in comparison to others with a similar heritage.

You probably have a long and lanky skeletal frame with narrow shoulders and hips, and prominent joints. Your musculature is naturally wiry, and if anything, you may tend to be underweight. Your facial features are chiseled and angular with eyes that are smaller in size. Your skin probably tends to be darker in tone (though it may be relatively transparent), thin, and dry rather than oily. Your hair is likely quite dry and may also be frizzy, darker in color, or tightly curled. You are quite frequently cold, with hands and feet that are consistently icy to the touch, and you likely adore the sun. In fact, you probably prefer a warm, humid climate, and do not tolerate especially cold, dry, or windy weather well at all. You may be somewhat fidgety, and your nervous system may be quite sensitive.

Personality: Mental and Emotional Tendencies

You are generally quick-minded, creative, full of new ideas, and highly capable of holding a big vision. You are probably quite intuitive, and tend to be admired for your degree of mental flexibility, though you can also be rather delicate and emotionally or energetically sensitive. You almost certainly love travel, and prefer adventure to routine. In fact, your contagious enthusiasm for life and your willingness to try new things may often leave you feeling overcommitted, despite your genuine investment in the causes you care about. You may also struggle with a tendency toward anxiety and overwhelm, which is almost certainly mitigated when you create a sense of routine in your life, though you undoubtedly resist doing so. You likely make money quickly, but are equally quick to spend it. Your friends would probably describe you as fun-loving, happy, and enthusiastic (if a bit impulsive) and it brings you great joy to bring these qualities into the lives of others.

Digestion

You very likely have a somewhat irregular appetite, and you may be aware that your digestive capacity tends to be a bit finicky, to the point that you may even struggle with some food sensitivities. If you don’t already do so, a focus on eating three square meals daily would likely serve you well because chances are that, at times, you are inclined to eat too sparingly or to forget to eat altogether. Your bowels likely tend to be a bit dry, with relatively firm, dry stools, so you may not have a predictably regular habit of eliminating, and you may sometimes experience constipation.

Energy Levels, Stamina, and Sleep

In all likelihood, your light, quick body supports your preference for maintaining a high level of activity—physical and otherwise. The truth is that you have a lot of energy, but your stamina is limited, so you may often find yourself overcommitted or overextended. Despite knowing this about yourself, you probably have a difficult time saying no to things you genuinely care about.

You probably sleep fewer hours than most—six to seven hours, on average—but your body may actually require more sleep than you realize. You likely prefer a soft bed with lots of covers, and it is important to you that you stay warm while you sleep. Generally speaking, you are a light sleeper and you may sometimes struggle with insomnia. Still, you are almost certainly a morning person, and when you are well rested, you tend to wake up alert and eager to greet the new day. On the other hand, as the day wraps up, you are probably quite tired and ready to turn in for the night.

 

Banyan Visuals Manager, Maggie

The Qualitative Nature of Vata

Does this sound like you? It’s astonishing how helpful the doshas can be in making sense of both our strengths and our weaknesses. In this next section, we hope to ground your understanding even further by exploring the primary qualities of vata, how they can impact both the physiology and the mind, and how they can either support or challenge your health—depending on whether they are balanced or aggravated.

As you read through this section, you may begin to notice some of the ways in which each quality manifests in your system, giving you a glimpse into some of the more subtle aspects of your particular constitution. In time, it is precisely this type of deepening self-awareness that can inform your understanding of how best to promote optimal health and balance in your life.

Vata Is Dry and Rough

The dry and rough qualities allow our organs and tissues to appropriately absorb nutrients and also break down and eliminate what they don’t need. In excess, these qualities can cause dry skin, constipation, rough movement in the joints, carelessness, a characteristic rigidity in the mind or body, and brittle hair, nails, or bones.

Vata Is Light

Lightness often manifests as a thin or lanky physique, access to creativity, and a well-developed sense of spirituality. In excess, it can cause a flighty ungroundedness, lack of emotional security, insomnia, deteriorating bones or muscles, and the condition of being underweight.

Vata Is Cold

The cold quality may make you more sensitive to cold temperatures than others, and give you consistently cold hands and feet. In excess, it can compromise digestive strength, create feelings of isolation and loneliness, and cause constriction in the body.

Vata Is Mobile

The mobile quality supports effective movement, communication, and action. In excess, it can cause instability and restlessness in the mind or body, compromise our ability to focus, trigger anxiety, and cause fidgeting or tremors.

Vata Is Subtle

The subtle quality allows for substances to penetrate deep into the cells, and for ideas or emotions to infiltrate the deepest layers of consciousness. It allows for a more meaningful experience of life. In excess, it can leave us feeling aloof, ungrounded, or disconnected from reality.

 

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