The doshas, or three vital energies, help us understand how internal and external factors influence your health and well-being. Each of us has all three doshas, just in different amounts. While any dosha can become imbalanced in us at any time, the dosha you have most of is the one that is most likely to go out of balance. When you understand your tendencies related to imbalance, you can avoid doing those things and focus instead on what makes you feel your best.
When you are feeling imbalanced overall, vata is often the reason. With the light and subtle qualities of ethers and air elements that make up vata, it is the easiest of the doshas to go out of balance. And because of the mobility of the air element, imbalanced vata will disturb the other doshas toward imbalance.
How to calm vata dosha
The second concept to guide your healing is understanding that food is the best medicine. Food gives you prana, which is what gives you the energy to live. Shift your focus away from supplements, herbs or medications and focus first on eating the best kinds of high-quality foods to calm and ground vata. And when vata is calm, you’ll find that you are more creative in the kitchen and can enjoy the cooking process.
A vata-balancing diet
A diet to calm vata includes:
- Warm, cooked food: Vata’s cool qualities are balanced with warm foods. Make your Ayurvedic meals a simple combination of augmenting and extractive foods, gently cooked to awaken prana.
- Nourishing foods, like whole grains and augmenting vegetables: When vata is aggravated, reach for foods that are moist, dense and soft. Try porridge or stewed apples for breakfast, and cook up butternut squash or sweet potatoes as part of lunch or dinner.
- Sips of warm water throughout the day: Stay hydrated to avoid excess vata from drying you out, but stay away from iced drinks. Ice constricts your digestive organs in the same way a cold shower constricts your skin. Instead, take a thermos of warm water out with you and enjoy small sips throughout the day. But be aware of drinking too much water, which will aggravate vata and stress the kidneys, organs governed by vata.
- Kitchadi weekly: Kitchadi, a simple mixture of mung beans, white basmati rice, ghee and spices, gives your body the nutrition it needs in a way that is very easy to digest. Try it once a week to take the rough edges off vata and reset agni.
- Ghee: Most oils are wonderful for calming vata, but ghee (or liquid gold, as we like to call it) has the most vata-balancing qualities and supports agni. It lubricates your skin and organs and brings the nutrients from food deeper into your tissues. Use it as your main cooking oil, or try a medicinal ghee, known as a ghrta. Our ashwagandha ghrta is nice to reduce the effects of stress and support vitality.
- Spices: Digestive disruption is common when vata is high. Spices like cumin, fennel, mustard seed and asafoetida help your digestive organs do their work and prevent gas. They also happen to make your food delicious. Use them in moderation to support agni and calm vata.
Even if you are regularly eating this vata-calming diet, remember that everything you do has an effect on the doshas. So how you eat is as important as what you eat. Eat at regular times each day. Sit down for your meals, put away your phone other distractions and chew your food until it is liquid. Your agni will improve and you will keep vata calm and happy.