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WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA DOSHA?

Below, we introduce the types of physical, physiological and psychological qualities of Vata dosha as it manifests in individuals. Also presented are common signs of indications doshic imbalances, and the general qualities and factors that work to rebalance Vata.

It should be noted that the majority of the population are born with a dual dosha (known as Prakruti), and thus individuals can and will have different attributes of each. Therefore, there are different doshic combinations that one can be born with: Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata Pitta, Vata Kapha, Pitta Vata, Pitta Kapha, Kapha Vata, Kapha Pitta, and the very rare combination of Vata Pitta Kapha. 

In addition, imbalances (known as Vikruti) can be single a dosha imbalance (Vata, Pitta or Kapha), dual dosha imbalance (Vata Pitta, Vata Kapha, Pitta Vata, Pitta Kapha, Kapha Vata, Kapha Pitta, and tridoshic (Vata, Pitta and Kapha together).

GETTING TO KNOW THE CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA DOSHA

Vata dosha encompasses the elements Ether (space) and Air, and is the force and energy of movement (voluntary and involuntary), circulation, and transportation within the body. Without Vata, Pitta and Kapha cannot move or operate. 

The Physical attributes of VATA types:

  • Physically undeveloped
  • Flat chest, 
  • Veins, muscles and tendons visible
  • Thin frames; prominent bones/joints
  • Too short or too tall
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Can have variations in weight
  • Body irregularities: legs, scoliosis, knock-knees
  • Poor circulation
  • Pulse fast, thin, irregular
  • Crave the sun
  • Love external heat sources: sun, sauna, hot springs
  • Brown complexion; dark skinned
  • Shape of nose bent or turned up
  • Generally do not burn easily
  • Few dark moles
  • Hair curly/frizzy; coarse/rough
  • Head can be oily and/or dry in places
  • May be prone to dandruff
  • Eyes typically blue or grey
  • Eyes may be sunken
  • Eyes lustreless
  • Thin eyelashes
  • Skin prone to eczema and psoriasis
  • Nails rough and brittle; irregular depressions
  • Colour of fingers just below the nails can look bluish/grey
  • Often bite nails
  • Teeth may be bunched or crooked, may have needed braces
  • Teeth may be brittle and overly sensitive to hot and cold
  • Gums may recede early
  • Can have bitter/astringent taste in mouth
  • Jaw can be out of alignment with rest of the mouth
  • If they miss breakfast, they may have a tendency to become hypoglycemic
  • Have a harder time fasting than Pitta/Kapha types
  • Irregular bowel functions, prone to constipation
  • Period can be irregular, missed or scanty; cramps can be painful
  • Joints can make cracking noises
  • Often there is extra weight around midriff
  • Often corns and calluses
  • Chapped lips
  • Body hair neither scanty nor abundant
  • Tongue often coated – thin and adherent – greyish/pinkish
  • Often grind their teeth
  • Prefer warm and dry climate
  • Think a lot about sex and fantasies
  • Usually light sleeper – but sleep varies night to night
  • Wake in morning feeling unrested
  • Frequent sleep-walkers or sleep-talkers


The Physiological attributes of VATA  

  • Appetite/digestion variable
  • Anxious to eat
  • Erratic eaters – often take more than they can eat
  • Often eat too much and get indigestion
  • Often need to snack between meals
  • Crave sweet, sour, salty
  • Find it hard to miss breakfast, yet often skips meals during the day
  • Loves hot drinks
  • Urine production scanty
  • Faeces dry, hard and small
  • Can have life-long constipation
  • May miss menstruation if weight too low or too much exercise
  • Spacing between periods can be > 1 month
  • Menstruation scanty with clots, dark in colour
  • Constipation and cramps before menstruation, sometimes loose stools
  • Abdomen can feel tense and rigid
  • Perspires less than Pitta and Kapha
  • Sleeps less than Pitta and Kapha
  • Sleep may be disturbed
  • Dreams a lot and forget dreams easily
  • Dream about motion, pursuing
  • Hands and feet often cold
  • Expend energy quickly
  • Tendency for overindulgence in sex
  • Tendency for bun-out
  • Highly creative
  • Alert
  • Speak with breathy voice
  • Voice often goes hoarse and cracks with strain
  • Usually very talkative and can talk on any subject


The Psychological attributes of VATA

  • Visionaries, artists, theorists
  • Loves excitement and variation in lifestyle
  • Sensitive to subtle energies
  • Desire harmony
  • Short memory but quick understanding
  • Alert, active and restless mind
  • Open minded – on spiritual path, but willpower can be weak
  • Active and restless, but often low endurance
  • Tends to earn money quick and spend it quick with the result of remaining poor
  • Little willpower
  • Reasoning power is weak
  • Tends towards mental instability
  • Nervous fearful
  • Afflicted by much anxiety
  • Possesses little tolerance, confidence, boldness
  • Sensitive nervous system
  • Often sensitive to environmental noise and pain
  • Thinks predominantly in words
  • Tendency to insomnia
  • Dream frequently, often intense active dreams, often flying
  • May be irritable and quick to anger, but also quickly over it
  • Often appear as ‘space cases’
  • Characteristically are the first to show fear or anxiety
  • Resist regularity
  • Sometimes craves companionship, other times solitude
  • Often fail to complete projects and can start many projects at once


How to recognise a VATA imbalance
As Vata dosha governs so much within the body, it has the tendency to become imbalanced first. According to Ayurveda,  approximately 80% of imbalances are Vata imbalances, while Pitta is 40% and Kapha 20%.

Classical signs (but not a complete list) of a Vata imbalance can include:

  • Nervousness, fear, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, pain, tremors, spasms, twitches
  • Drying tendency – rough skin, arthritis, emaciation, stiffness, constipation, general dryness
  • Excessive sensitivity, excitable
  • Tendency for large intestine disorders and/or gas
  • Lower back pain, sciatica, paralysis, along with various types of neuralgia
  •  Low energy, persistent fatigue and sluggishness 
  • Anything to do with the nervous system – e.g. neuropathic pain
  • Anything associated with immunosuppression or immunodeficiency
  • Dry, flaky skin and brittle, cracking, and peeling nails 
  • Constipation, gas, bloating, and hard stools
  • Irregular digestion that is unpredictable from day to day 
  • Low body weight, inability to gain weight, lose weight very easily
  • Light sleep often interrupted by waking up in the early morning hours (especially between 2 and 6)
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling of being spacey, forgetful, or scattered
  • Excessive thinking, worrying, and ruminating
  • Racing mind
  • Sensitive to loud, sudden noises


What factors commonly imbalance VATA dosha

  • Foods and beverages that are pungent (black pepper, cayenne pepper, chillies, dry ginger) bitter (brussels sprouts, raw kale, eggplant) and astringent (raw apples, broccoli, most raw vegetables) in nature. Small amounts of these foods/beverages are needed for Vata, but more than this will contribute to Vata imbalances
  • Foods that are drying in nature. Examples include: diuretics, coffee, dandelion leaves, alcohol, dry food items)
  • Foods that are light in nature. Examples include: foods that are very quick to digest, for example summer squash. These foods need to be combined with other foods that are more nourishing and building, i.e. pumpkin, sweet potatoes, beets etc).
  • Eating too little food, which can leaves Vata and the body undernourished
  • Not chewing food properly, gulping food, eating while talking, eating while standing or walking, eating while driving, talking excessively during meals
  • Skipping meals
  • Fasting (for Vata types, fasting needs to be kept to a minimum)
  • Eating meals at irregular times
  • Eating on a full stomach or before the previous meal is digested
  • Overeating
  • Eating just after strenuous exercise
  • Exercising (strenuous) too soon after eating
  • Over exercise
  • Physical or mental shock
  • Most form of modern transport, especially air travel
  • Insufficient sleep and/or going to bed late (i.e. after 10pm)
  • Obstructions to bodily channels, including constipation
  • Excessive sexual activity
  • Any excessive (or lack thereof) activity, where there is not enough balance (work/sleep/activity/exercise/relaxation/social/creativity). This also includes excessive screen time, use of electronic devices and excessive talking
  • Constant change in life without any stability
  • Not processing emotions / suppression of emotions
  • Suppression of natural urges such as urination, passing stools, passing wine, burping
  • Excessive cleansing therapies, such as fasting, purgation, colonics
  • Muscle depletion, i.e. through undernourishment
  • Excess fear, anxiety, worry, grief, or any strong emotions
  • Sudden changes in diet/food and/or lifestyle activities
  • Changes in seasons
  • Windy weather
  • Autumn and late winter
  • Early morning and late afternoons (Vata time of day) (Vata times of year)


What balances VATA dosha
The ‘qualities’ or characteristics of Vata are light, cold, dry, sharp, mobile, hard, rough, subtle and clear, with  bitter and astringent tastes. Therefore, the opposite of these qualities will help bring Vata dosha back into balance. 

  • Routine, grounding, warming, and calming activities.
  • Foods with that are soft, unctuous, smooth, gross, cloudy, warm, stable, with sweet, sour and salty tastes.
  • Medicinal herbs and Ayurvedic bodywork therapies that have the qualities as listed above.
  • Avoidance of the above listed diet/lifestyle factors that aggravate Vata, and work on elements/factors that rebalance Vata during Vata times of day and Vata season of year.


Qualities of a balanced VATA
When in Balance, Vata types are energetic, vivacious, joyful, friendly, open-minded, free in spirit, easily embrace change and learn easily. They are are clear and alert, sleep long and lightly, have a well balanced digestion, good circulation and an even body temperature.

If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.

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Disclaimer:
The above information is for information and educational purposes. As such we are not, diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before taking any form of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

 

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