The main qualities of vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle, and mobile. If you are predominantly vata or have a vata imbalance, it is likely that your body and mind are primarily composed of these qualities.
In excess, the “dry” and “rough” qualities may manifest themselves as dry or brittle skin, lips, hair, nails, or bones (e.g. osteoporosis), as constipation, or as feeling “dry” emotionally.
The “light” quality may manifest itself as a lanky physique. In excess, lightness may manifest as being underweight, having muscle wasting, light bones, insomnia, or feelings of spaciness or insecurity.
The “cold” quality of vata may lead you to feel cold more easily than others, you are likely to have cold hands and feet, and typically crave warmth.
The “subtle” quality may express itself as being introverted, creative, and having an active fantasy life.
The “mobile” quality may lead to a healthy ability to “multi-task” or, in excess, causes scattered attention, a tendency to fidget, and even tremors and nervousness. It may manifest as extremes—such as being drastically different weights at different times in your life.
Qualities opposite to vata are moist, grounding, warming, smooth, oily, and stabilizing. It is therefore best for vata individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these qualities.
A vata individual does well to have warming, freshly cooked, nourishing, mushy foods, like soups, stews, and one-pot-meals. Because of the inherent “light” quality in vata, you may think that heavy foods would nicely balance that quality—in moderation that is true, but too much heavy food, or just too much food at a sitting, is too heavy for the lightness of the vata digestive system.
The sweet, sour, and salty tastes decrease vata, and these tastes should be predominant in your diet. When selecting sweet foods, note that naturally sweet foods like many grains, squashes, and most fruits are appropriate, but processed foods, high in refined sugars, are not at all balancing for any dosha. Refined sugars merely offer a quick burst of energy, followed by a “crash,” a pattern that is already a hallmark feature of vata, and one that the vata individual does well to avoid.
Sweet or grounding scents like the essential oils of rose or amber, sweet music, and sweet emotions are also good “medicines” for vata. And believe it or not, a daily, 10–20 minute, gentle self-massage with warm sesame oil can positively change the life of a vata-type.
The mobile quality of vata can drive vata-types to do “1000” things at one time. This can lead to exhaustion of the nervous system, which in turn causes emotional and physical restlessness and eventual “dis-ease.” While a routine can feel contrary to your nature, it can be extremely beneficial for you to incorporate one into your life. Examples are rising and going to bed at about the same time every day, giving regular time to meditation, gentle yoga, and enjoying other strengthening exercises that are easy on the joints. Also try having regular meals, chewing your food thoroughly, and taking a breath before moving on to your next activity.
In general, it is best to move through life as if you were a Zen master. So, if you are trying to reduce vata, continually ask yourself, “If a master were faced with this situation, how would she act?”
Take your time, a deep breath, AND THEN enjoy playing that part.
“One who moistens his head with oil daily does not suffer from headache, alopecia, graying of hair, nor do his hairs fall. By applying oil on the head regularly, strength of skull parts increases particularly, hairs become firm-rooted, long and dark, sense organs become cheerful and the face with pleasant glow along with sound sleep and happiness.”