The Characteristics of VATA: Diet, Body Type and Personality
As we’ve learned, there are three doshas, or constitutions, in Ayurveda. One of the those is Vata.
But what is Vata? Vata means, “that which moves things.” It is known as the biological air (wind) humor and is considered the motivating force behind the other two humors that are immobile without it. It also governs our sensory and mental balance, promoting mental adaptability and comprehension.
General Features of Vata
- Very tall or very short, hardly in between.
- Irregularities such as a crooked nose or dangly arms.
- Thin or thick bones with prominent joints.
- Underdeveloped frames with narrow shoulders, chest, and hips.
- Small, hard, and tight muscles, as seen in slender thighs, calves, and arms.
- Underweight (most can eat in abundance without gaining any weight)
- Small hands and feet.
- Dry, cracking joints.
- Rough, dry skin with possible cracks or fissures.
- Tan easily and have darker-than-average skin.
- Small, narrow head, forehead, and face, with dark, dry, and thin lips and a slim nose that is small but long and crooked.
- Receding gums and crooked teeth, often small or too big, affect this persons mouth (buck teeth are a significant sign of some vata in a person).
- Thin eyebrows cap small, dry, lifeless eyes that are often unsteady, and usually dark brown, slate blue, violet, or gray.
- Their tongue is typically slender and small, long and dull, or pale and cracked.
- Dark or black hair that is coarse, dry, wavy, frizzy, curly, or wiry, prone to dandruff and split ends.
- Small, fine, dry, rough, cracked, and darkish nails, and a tendency to bite them.
- Produce very little sweat.
- Thin, shallow, and fast pulse with a broken and variable rhythm felt most strongly under the index finger, and arteries that feel cold and hard.
Insomnia and awakening with a head full of superficial worries is common. Dreams may involve flying, jumping, running, being chased or some other fear-inspired episode. Keeping a dream journal will help them sort out and alleviate stresses that contribute to a restless sleep.
As ‘cold and dry’ are its main attributes, the vata dosha is easily aggravated by cold and especially, windy weather. The body does not produce strong internal heat and is rather cold-blooded so to speak, causing a craving for warmth and the sun. They may also be over-sensitive to pain, noise, and drafts.
The voice of someone with a vata constitution is typically low, weak, hoarse, and prone to cracking. They speak quickly and with a rising pitch. They often digress in conversation and can discuss almost anything with anybody, with great enjoyment.
This group are efficient workers with strong initiative. However, they often get distracted and have trouble finishing the projects they start.
Money is a fleeting resource for these people. They spend money quickly and impulsively, often with regret and worry later on.
Lifestyle and Habits
Inherently non-habitual creatures, the vata person is reluctant to follow a particular lifestyle regimen. This resistance, however, is balanced by the fundamental attribute of movement, which manifests in their openness to change.
They think a lot about sex! They’re sexually active beings with a satisfying fantasy life, though their sexual appetite frequently varies. Their passionate nature causes them to arouse and climax quickly and intensely. All of these tendencies means they may overindulge in sex, leading to depleted mental and physical energy. They’re less fertile than the average person. Concerning menstruation, these women tend to have very irregular cycles and may miss periods, especially if they over-exercise or their weight drops too low. Of the three doshas, vata experiences the most intense menstrual cramps.
They are typically restless, active, and curious. They search for constant stimulation and may resort to worry and anxiety if they don’t find it. Though they’re ambitious in many aspects of life, they’re rarely satisfied. They also tend to be very indecisive. From an intellectual perspective, they grasp theoretical concepts thoroughly and are creative and innovative thinkers. Coming up with new ideas is never a problem–the challenge lies in putting them into action.
Vata emotions are highly inconsistent. They are also quick to respond without forethought. When ‘on’ they are the life of the party so-to-speak, but often run out of steam too quickly. Their friendships are fast but frequently short-lived. Many positive emotional traits comprise the vata personality, they can be cheerful, enthusiastic, resilient, imaginative, spontaneous, sensitive, exhilarating, friendly, flexible, adaptable, stimulating, alert, and optimistic. On the negative side, they can be nervous, complaining, restless, apathetic, unfocused, spacey, depressed, impatient, fearful, insecure, unpredictable, high strung, chaotic, and quick to burn out. Jealousy, an overactive mind, and difficulty concentrating are also dominant traits.
These people are the most likely of the three doshas to feel the urge for self-development and spiritual growth. They tend toward fanaticism and, throughout their lives, will be susceptible to indecision and constant change.
Signs and Symptoms of Increased or Aggravated Vata
- Twitches or muscle cramps/spasms
- Dry skin, cracking joints
- Constipation, bloating, gas, or hard stools
- Weight loss
- Aversion to cold and wind
- Irritation to noises and commotion
- Sleep disturbances
- A feeling of spaciness or scattered thoughts
- An inability to concentrate
- Worry, anxiety, fear, or panic
(See ‘Attributes’ on the ‘What is Ayurveda’ page for more information).
The Vata Pacifying Diet
How to Balance Vata
|Fruits||Sweet fruits bananas, all berries, oranges, dates, etc.||Dried fruits, apples, cranberries, etc.|
|Vegetables||Cooked vegetables, especially squash, asparagus, carrots, green beans, zucchini, beets||All frozen, dried or raw vegetables cabbage, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.|
|Grains||Cooked oats, all rice (including brown), wheat, etc.||Cold, dry, puffed cereals, buckwheat, corn, dry oats, granola, oat or wheat bran, rice cakes, rye, millet, etc.|
|Legumes||In moderation: mung beans, red/black lentils, soya milk, tofu, etc.||Chick peas, beans (kidney, black, lima, navy, pinto, soya, white), lentils, soya powder, split peas, etc.|
|Nuts||all nuts in moderation|
|Seeds||Flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower|
|Oils||All are fine, especially sesame|
|Spices||Most spices, especially basil, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, black pepper, garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, etc.|
|Sweeteners||All natural sweeteners, brown rice syrup, honey, fruit juice concentrates, jaggery, maple syrup, molasses, etc.||White sugar|
|Dairy||All dairy in moderation – cow/goat’s milk and their products, cheese, yoghurt, etc.|
|Beverages||Fruit juices and warming drinks (e.g., herbal tea), carrot and other vegetable juices, banana smoothies, fruit juices, hot dairy drinks, etc.||Caffeinated, carbonated, and ice-cold drinks, apple juice, etc.|
Note: The vata diet is a scientifically-researched set of food suggestions. The nutritional values of good and bad foods are not considered here. These recommendations support a vata pacifying diet.
Herbs for Vata
Herbs that have calming, nurturing and warming effects, and those that assist in digestion can help reduce a vata imbalance. Used individually or in specially-prepared formulas, several Ayurvedic herbs can prove beneficial and should be included in the vata diet. To calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety: Brahmi and Gotu Kola, Bacopa Monniera, Ashwagandha, Shankhapushpi To promote and enhance digestion: Triphala and Pippali (Piper longum) To support female hormones: Shatavari Vidari Kanda Some common household spices also help to establish balance. For example, fennel supports digestion and regulates female hormones. Chamomile calms nerves, and black pepper, cardamom, and ginger aid in digestion. These herbs and spices should be included in the vata diet whenever possible. As well, daily self-massage, particularly with sesame-based oils or olive oil nourishes the skin and grounds this dosha.
The Vata Lifestyle
Living A Balanced Life
Check out Jiva Botanicals range of supplements that balance vata at www.jivabotanicals.com.
As we embrace our passions and delve into the mystery of life, we unite with the majestic complexity of nature; and if we follow the signs, this can help us understand who we really are.
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