Vata winter wellbeing guide
Everyone has a combination of all three constitutional dosha, but one of them is usually primary, one secondary and the third less prominent. Thus, each person has a particular pattern of physical characteristics that make up their individual constitution known as ‘prakriti’. If you look at any current imbalances in your health, known as ‘vikriti’, you can help to correct this imbalance by choosing the correct food, herbs or yoga posture for you.
Air is the dominant element in a vataconstitution, which means that the seasonal changes occurring during autumn, where wind increases and the weather becomes cooler and drier, can really aggravate this dosha. Vata is the constitution that's most at risk of becoming out of balance during the autumn months. Like a sudden gust of wind can cause you to lose your balance, the vata constitution is also at risk from losing their stability.
A balance of vata in the body brings comfortable movement, regular breathing, a consistent appetite, normal bowel function, positive enthusiasm, healthy desire, good energy, a calm mind and inspirational creativity. If your vata becomes tipped out of balance you may lose weight, have increased dryness of the skin, hair and bowels, feel dehydrated, have excessive bloating, erratic digestion and suffer from insomnia and anxiety.
You can balance vata’s cold, airy and dry tendencies by increasing its opposite qualities and introducing more warmth, earthiness and oily nourishment into your life. This includes staying warm at all times, keeping a regular sleep pattern, and enjoying earthy spices and foods.
The vata diet is about nourishing the nervous system, raising the digestive fire and aiding the body in absorbing nutrients. It is particularly beneficial at the vata times of year which are primarily spring and autumn.
Top tips for those with a dominant vata dosha
Eat at regular intervals and don’t over-eat or forget to eat. Relax and spend time with your food.
Practice daily relaxation methods such as yoga and mindfulness. Yoga postures that are particularly suited to vata types are those which are more grounding and strengthening such as the corpse and lotus poses. Just remember to keep yourself wrapped up and warm!
Keep yourself moisturised with warming, unctuous oils such as sesame, or castor oil.
Emphasise foods that are warm, soupy, heavy and oily and increase your intake of natural oils. This can be in the form of oils used in cooking, but also oils found in nut milks for example.
Favour foods that are sweet, sour or salty as these will help increase heat and moisture.
Reduce foods that are characteristically cold and dry, but also foods that are very spicy as the extreme heat can often upset the sensitive vata digestion.
Avoid refined foods, stimulants and processed foods as these take more energy to break down, using precious heat reserves.
The sudden change into longer hours of darkness can also affect a vata’s already delicate sleeping patterns. Making a glass of hot, spicy milk with herbs such as cinnamon and nutmeg in the evenings can help to relax the mind before bed.
Herbs to help keep vata in balance in the winter are those that support our nervous system. Try Ashwagandha which will help the body and mind adapt and conserve energy. Vata women may notice that their menstrual cycle also starts to experience irregularities, trying shatavari will help support balance. If the digestion becomes slow and cold, and you also notice your joints following suit, then try Turmeric Active which will keep the digestive fire burning but also protect your joints from stiffening up.
Vata types are also often prone to lingering colds and flu that take weeks to recover from. If you recognise this pattern in yourself, then try immune strengthening herbs such as elderberry, ginger and medicinal mushrooms. You could try a cup of warming Three Ginger or Elderberry and Echinacea tea. Partner these with warming and balancing Pukka teas such as Three Cinnamon, Lemon, Ginger and Manuka Honey and Three Chamomile.
Don't know your dosha? Take our dosha quiz to find out.
Author: Jo Webber
Head of Herbal Education
As a B.Sc. qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher, Jo is passionate about bringing these two ancient sciences together to help people feel empowered about their health. Jo has put her post-graduate certificate in education to good use, co-founding the Ayurveda academy to help others learn of the wonders of Ayurveda. Jo has also earned a Masters degree in human sciences from Oxford University and has taught in several schools
B.Sc. qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher
Years of experience:
20 years as a Hatha yoga teacher/ayurvedic practitioner
Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association