Tending Home Base: 4 Ways to Balance Vata This Fall
As the philosophy of Ayurveda spreads in today’s age, the doshas are its shining star. Typically, they are what we learn about first and what opens the door into Ayurveda’s vast world of wisdom.
Thanks to the understanding of the three doshas of vata, pitta, and kapha, we have a level of awareness of the functions within the body and mind that is unique to this system of medicine.
The patterns outlined by the doshas create a roadmap to bring us back into balance when we find ourselves astray. By following the right daily routine for our unique constitution, we acquire a trustworthy life vest for times when life becomes rocky.
And speaking of learning more, did you know that each of the doshas has a seat within the body that it calls home? This article offers an overview of each of these seats, as well as a deeper look at vata dosha—just in time for fall. Stay tuned for more on the seats of pitta and kapha coming up soon!
Home Base: Where Each Dosha Resides
The doshas are ubiquitous throughout the body, impacting each and every cell with their ability to create, sustain, and break down. At the same time, each dosha has a special place that it congregates—a home base where it likes to spend most of its time.
The seats of the doshas are all located within the digestive tract, providing unique support for the digestive process by offering their strength and skillset to this fascinating and complicated process.
Can you guess where each dosha lives? Here is a sneak peek at the seat of each dosha, as well as the main function it performs there:
Kapha: The Stomach
Both kapha and pitta dosha have homes or seats in the region of the body between the belly button and heart, called the amashaya. Kapha dosha first breaks down food in the stomach by providing liquidity and strong muscle contractions to turn food into a bolus so it can travel further down the koshta, or digestive tract.
Kapha’s seat in the stomach is incredibly important because it governs the initial stages of digestion, supporting the absorption of nutrients from what we consume.
Pitta: The Small Intestine
From there, the mass of food material is further broken down by pitta dosha in its home in the small intestine. Pitta is known to rule metabolism and transformation, which we can see in action here, where digestive enzymes and metabolic juices break down the foods we ingest into a more refined material.
Vata: The Large Intestine
As the broken-down food travels further through the gastrointestinal tract, it finally arrives at the large intestine (or the pakwashaya, in Sanskrit) where it meets the seat of vata. Here in the colon, vata dosha completes the process of digestion by drying out and extracting nutrients from the food.
Together, the three doshas create a complete and complementary cycle of digestion from their home seats, where each offers their unique strength to the physiological process.
Imbalance: When Vata Travels Away from Home
So what happens when a dosha goes out of balance? For example, in the fall season, when vata dosha has a tendency to find itself out of balance, we will often see this mirrored in the large intestine, the seat of vata.
When the dry, windy environment of fall increases vata dosha we often notice things like dry stools, gas, bloating, and occasional irregular bowel movements, which become more prevalent due to the same dry, windy qualities increasing in the home of vata.c
From there, excess vata spills out of its home base and travels into other areas of the body. This can lead to an increase in dry skin and may even show itself as anxiousness, a restless mind, or trouble sleeping, among other imbalances.
4 Ways to Balance Vata by Tending to Its Home
Once we understand how this process works, we see why it’s so important to address vata at its home base, before it gets out of control.
So, how can we balance the seat of vata? Here are a few remedies that focus on soothing vata in the colon so you can maintain a sense of grounded well-being and prevent further imbalance.
1. Enjoy Nabhi Abhyanga
You’re probably already familiar with abhyanga, or Ayurvedic self-massage, which is one of the best self-care practices for vata. Nabhi abhyanga refers specifically to belly massage.
Massaging the belly in gentle clockwise circles with Vata Massage Oil will immediately start to calm down and settle some of the digestive discomforts aggravated by vata dosha.
The more you can relax, the more effective this practice will be. It can be really lovely to follow the massage with a hot water bottle on the belly while you breathe deeply into the area below the belly button!
2. Drink Dashamula Tea
When our digestive tracts are not eliminating properly, it creates a sense of ungroundedness characteristic of a vata imbalance. Drinking this traditional Ayurvedic tea provides a greater sense of grounding by supporting the natural downward-moving process of digestion.
To make this colon-comforting tea, boil one tablespoon of dashamula in one cup of water for five minutes. Strain and drink in the morning time. This will help move the flow of vata back down towards the colon so that digestion and elimination can happen more easily.
3. Practice Knees to Chest Pose (Apanasana)
This gentle yoga asana is fantastic for bringing prana, or life force, back into the seat of vata to create more balance and stability. Here’s how it’s done:
- Laying down on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the ground, take a few deep breaths allowing your low back to find a neutral position.
- As you exhale, bring your knees into your chest, flattening your low back towards the ground.
- As you inhale, place your hands on the front of your kneecaps and begin to gently press the knees and hands away from you. Or, if it feels right, you can straighten your legs towards the ceiling.
- Move through this repetition five times before placing the feet back on the ground.
This practice can be done twice a day or more, in the morning and evening.
4. Embrace an Evening Routine
For many, one of the biggest challenges of the fall is the increasing amount of darkness we experience. As the days grow shorter, our healthy sleep routines can begin to fall off, leading to more anxiousness and difficulty sleeping.
Do your best to set a consistent bedtime that works for you. About two hours before this time, start to prepare the environment in your home by dimming the lights or even using candles if you can.
Start to shut down screens like your TV and computer and opt for reading or listening to music instead. Turn your phone on night-mode and only use it if truly necessary. As you start to wind down for the evening, you might consider a grounding cup of Joyful Heart tea to support a sense of inner peace and calm.
After brushing your teeth, and perhaps taking a warm bath or shower, it is a great idea to massage the soles of the feet with Sleep Easy Oil. With some cozy socks to keep in the oil, you’ll be ready to curl up in bed and fall asleep with ease!