It sometimes feels like there’s a silent epidemic going on. In our fast paced world of instant gratification, fast food, and over stimulation it’s no wonder that so many people suffer from Vata imbalances. It’s hard to avoid when we’re bombarded by the constant hum of traffic, bright lights day and night, tv, movies and video games, social media, and a plethora of social gatherings. How do we find balance amidst the chaos? Understanding Vata is the first step.
Vata is the energy of movement and is made up of space and air. It lives in the hollow spaces in the body such as the joints, ears, eyes, nose, and intestines. It is light, mobile, subtle, clear, hard, dry, and rough. Vata is at its peak between 2-6 (am/pm) which means that during these hours you are most likely to experience Vata symptoms. Ever notice that when you wake up in the middle of the night it’s usually around 2am? That’s Vata making trouble. We all have some amount of Vata dosha in us, but some of us have more than others. That means that if you have a predominantly Vata constitution you’re more likely to notice imbalances pop up during the winter months when Vata is most active.
Here are some clues that you might be a Vata person and/or have an imbalance: Vata people are typically thin and lanky with blue eyes, pale skin, and curly hair. They are often good at multi-tasking, creative, and introverted with active imaginations and a tendency towards quick movements and quick speech. When out of balance, Vata manifests physically as dryness, thin hair, brittle nails and bones, ringing in the ears, constipation, gas, bloating, insomnia, dizziness, tremors, joint pain, cold hands and feet, and the tendency towards dramatic weight loss or weight gain (especially around the hips) or both. A Vata imbalance manifests mentally and emotionally as anxiety, distractedness, nervousness, and insecurity. Any of this sound familiar? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve got a fair amount of Vata in your constitution. So here’s what you can do to tame Vata:
Vata Pacifying Lifestyle
-Create a solid daily routine, making time for self care and relaxation.
-Nightly warm bath before bed.
-Moderate exercise in the morning or evening. Yoga, walking, and swimming are good choices. Running has a tendency to further aggravate Vata.
-Get your hands in the dirt.
-Incorporate meditation and alternate nostril breathing.
–Lavender, clove, sage, vetiver and rose are good essential oils to calm and ground Vata.
Vata Pacifying Diet
-Eat regular meals (don’t skip meals and avoid fasting but be mindful of overeating as Vata digestion is often weak and irregular and therefore can’t handle too much food at once).
-Favor sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Note: this does not mean that you should eat refined sugars or processed foods, rather, that you should favor foods that are naturally sweet, sour and salty (think squash, yogurt and seaweed respectively).
-Favor warming spices and herbs such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and black pepper.
-Favor warming foods such as soups, stews, and roasted root vegetables (you can find a full list of dosha specific dietary guidelines here)
-Incorporate plenty of healthy fats into your diet including ghee, olive oil, tahini, nuts and dairy to balance out the dry, light, and rough qualities of Vata.
-Avoid spicy, bitter, and astringent foods.
-Avoid raw foods, frozen foods, and cold foods, most beans, carbonated beverages and cold drinks, chips, popcorn and other dry foods.
-Stay hydrated by sipping warm tea regularly.
-Consider enjoying a cup of warm nut milk with spices or a Tahini Rose Rooibos Latte before bed to help you get grounded and wind down. (Fun fact: Rooibos contains flavanoids that increase the mineral content of your bones? Perfect for that Vata imbalance!)
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Tahini Rose Rooibos Latte
3 tablespoons loose leaf rooibos tea
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 date, pitted
1 teaspoon tahini
3/4 teaspoon rose water concentrate
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place the tea in glass jar or glass measuring cup, cover with 1 cup boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea through a fine mesh seive into the container of a high speed blender. Alternatively, use a french press to make the tea. Meanwhile warm the almond milk in a small pot over low heat. Add the hot almond milk, date, tahini, rose water, and cinnamon to the blender with the tea and blend on high until smooth and creamy.