Ask A Practitioner: How Can I Balance Vata?

Join every week for a Q&A session with one of Basmati’s practitioners, Melissa Hill (FDN-P)! We know that there is a lot of confusing information out there, which can make applying health advice overwhelming.  Sometimes, it’s best to ask a practitioner directly, so each week we’ll cover a common health question!

Do you have a health question you’d like to ask? Write to us at editors [at] basmati [dot] com () and your question could be chosen and featured in a future column!

Q. My Vata is high. What can I do to bring it into balance?

A. If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of particular doshas being too high, aggravated, or out of balance, you can begin to bring them back into balance by applying the opposite qualities. This can come in the form of food choices, herbs, lifestyle adjustments, or therapeutic treatments. If a particular dosha is disturbed for too long, it will affect the health of the dhatus (tissue layers of the body). Take steps toward proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle to bring doshas back into balance before disease sets into the body.

Because each particular dosha is the product of the elements in nature, it is helpful to recognize which elements are showing up in you and how they are manifesting and expressing in you personally.

Vata is made up of the air and ether elements. It has the qualities of being light, subtle, dry, mobile, rough, and cold. These qualities can affect the functioning of our mind and body. The fall season is called vata season because it has these qualities as well, so vata tends to be easily disturbed or increased during the fall season, especially in those with the vata predisposition, or prakriti. Consuming food and drink with these qualities can also increase the vata dosha of someone. Once you understand the nature of your imbalance, it is easier to bring yourself back to balance by using the opposite qualities, whether in the form of food, drink, herbs, lifestyle modifications, or therapeutic treatments.

Balancing Vata

To balance high vata out, you want to calm the winds and stabilize your system. This can be approached by eating more grounding, vata-reducing foods. In choosing the appropriate diet, it is necessary to take into account the season of the year, the taste, and whether the foods are hot or cold, heavy or light, oily or dry, liquid or solid. 

Things like roasted root vegetables, warm soups, grains like rice and oats, and dairy (if you tolerate it) will help balance out disturbed vata. Additionally, avoiding vata-increasing foods such as cold drinks, raw foods, and dry foods. Especially during fall, it is also more appropriate to shift to eating more warming foods and spices this time of year, whose qualities of being warm, moist, and oily will naturally help to balance and ground unstable vata as well. Also, adding an oil component like ghee or sesame oil to your meals can help balance vata. Drinking warm teas, like licorice, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon can calm vata as well.

Keeping yourself physically warm is also important. Make sure your environment is kept comfortably warm and you have suitable clothing for the cold air. Too much exposure to cold dry air will aggravate vata.

Bringing consistency to your daily routine and meal times and bed time can also help balance vata. Circadian medicine. Eat your meals at the same time each day and create as much of a daily routine as you can. Traveling, especially by plane, will aggravate vata and push it out of balance. 

Oil massage, abhyanga, is another great antidote to high vata. Perform daily when you are feeling out of balance.

Meditation and taking time out to rest can be effective strategies to help to calm vata.

If you are already doing these things, and your vata imbalance hasn’t resolved, you can look deeper into reasons behind your vata getting disturbed in the first place. For any dosha to get aggravated, there had to first be an accumulation of toxins in your system that had built up then dispersed into what you are now experiencing as your symptoms. Working to reduce the overall toxic load on your body can be beneficial. There are many ways to facilitate detox of your body, such as with specific foods, herbs, modalities, and panchakarma with the help of a practitioner.

It is equally important to detox your mind. Mentally and emotionally releasing stored or repressed emotions related to the doshic expression at the root of your imbalance can help. Vata is associated with fear and anxiety. So, taking time to acknowledge and release those stored emotions, allowing them to dissipate, is vital for healing.