Ayurvedic principles categorise people into three basic personality types, vata, pitta and kapha. Physicians base their entire disease-management plan based on these types. In this series of stories explaining the three types, we are starting with vata, the air element.
Ever met a person who is physically slim with light bone structure, creative, communicative, enthusiastic, and quick to respond? One would also notice that the person is physically and mentally active, artistic and flexible. These people are night owls, forgetful, experience frequent digestive disturbances and have erratic mood swings. Well, ayurvedic practitioners define them as persons with a vata personality.
Ayurvedic physicians say that our bodies have a combination of bodily energies (vata, pitta, and kapha) that make us unique. Although all these three energies are present in us, one will always be dominant and that defines our trait.
Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe a management plan based on an individual’s body type, such as vata, pitta, kapha or a combination of two.
More about vata
Vata (the air energy) combines two elements, air and space. It involves all movement processes within the body, from the blinking of eyelids to the function of your muscles. Additionally, it is responsible for blood circulation, respiration, and nervous system functions.
People with a dominant vata energy tend to be slim and graceful. Vata body types have a delicate bone structure and do not weigh a lot. Losing and gaining weight too is an easy task for them as the air element in their body supports quick weight loss or gain. They have dry and rough skin, along with dry hair and brittle nails. They also have a deep and soft voice and are generally talkative in nature.
Though they mingle well with everyone, vata people like to be cocooned in their own world. This trait brings out their creativity and imagination. They often exhibit a curious nature, which makes them excel in their fields.
Here are some other traits of a vata person
- Acts quickly and has a quick mind
- Good short-term memory
- Impulsive and adaptive learner
- Often a loner
- Forgives quickly
- Anxious and avoids conflicts
- Shows a frequently changing pattern of doing things
Digestion and metabolism
“The vata person has a fluctuating appetite; sometimes they will be hungry and at other times they are not. They do not drink water too often as they do not feel thirsty easily. Digestion and metabolism are found to be unstable in them,” says Dr Sruthi Bhat, an Ayurveda doctor at Param Wellness, New Jersey.
Foods to eat and avoid
People with vata should eat small, regular meals and avoid mixing too many foods. Meals should be predominantly warm, and vegetables should be cooked. Warm water and herbal drinks are recommended for vata people, while carbonated beverages should be avoided.
Foods to eat
Foods to eat in moderation
|Eggs, fish, seafood, chicken, white meat||Red meat|
Asparagus, beets, carrot, cilantro, garlic, green peas, olives, cooked onions, sweet potato, pumpkin, zucchini, cooked cabbage and radish, leafy greens
Raw vegetables, popcorn, potato, bitter gourd, fresh corn, tomato, broccoli, eggplant, celery, raw onion, sprouts
|Fruits||Cooked apple, avocado, cherry, fresh dates, figs, grapefruit, orange, papaya, pineapple, plum, kiwi, lemon, lime, mango, melon||Dry fruits, green apples, persimmons, pomegranates, watermelons|
|Grains||Cooked oats, red rice, wheat, brown rice, quinoa||Barley, corn, millet, pasta, muesli, puffed cereals, granola, wheat bran|
|Milk products||Cow milk, butter, buttermilk, cheese, yoghurt, goat milk||
Frozen ice cream and frozen yoghurt
|oils and fats||Ghee, olive oil, sesame oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil, castor oil, coconut oil, almond oil||
Corn oil, flaxseed oil
When vata is not in balance
Vata persons are easily disturbed by cold weather and foods that their personality should avoid (as mentioned in the table above). Staying up late, binge eating, and grief can throw vata dosha off balance. When off balance, vata people can be clumsy, awkward or restless, and their skin becomes extremely dry. Here are a few other symptoms that are observed.
- Flaky skin
- Poor blood circulation, with cold hands and feet
- Muscle cramps and tremors
- Interrupted sleep and hunger
- Dry lips and nails
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Anxiety, fear, forgetful, obsessive
- Sensitive immune system
How to balance vata naturally
“Generally, vata-dominant persons are too free-spirited to follow day-to-day activities. So, they should chart a timetable and follow a regular daily routine to maintain their lifestyle,” says Dr Aishwarya Ramchandran, former consulting physician, Shathayu Ayurveda, Bengaluru. They can also manage stress through meditation, tai chi, yoga nidra and other calming activities. Maintaining a warm body temperature by avoiding cold weather or working in air-conditioned rooms can also help balance the prakriti, she added.
Staying in warm and humid locations can be good for vata people. Consuming warm, slightly oily foods and drinks, following regular meals and mealtimes, and going to bed early can help to keep vata in balance. They should avoid strenuous physical workouts and fasting.
When it comes to diet and lifestyle, a vata person should always focus on moderation. They need to eat raw veggies, onion, potato, cereals, and dry fruits in moderation to maintain balance of their vata dosha. Gentle and relaxing oil massages, steams, humidifiers, and moisturisers are highly recommended for vata people.