Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of healing meaning “Science of Life” (maybe that’s why I was drawn to a degree in Life Sciences!). Similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, ayurveda uses the elements as a means of understanding certain properties of nature.
Ayurveda’s 5 elements differ from those of The 5 Element Theory of TCM. They are: ether (space), air, water, fire and earth. Distinct combinations of these elements form to create 3 Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These Doshas characterize various properties of nature and, in humans, combine to form a unique constitution. Achieving a perfect health balance has much to do with pacifying the dominant Dosha that characterizes your individual self and enhancing less dominant Doshas.
Vata Dosha is made up of the elements air and ether. A person who is predominantly Vata will have some of the following characteristics:
– Thin build, difficulty putting on weight
– Shorter or taller than average
– dryer hair that may break easily and is typically curly
– Tendency towards nervousness or anxiety
– Digestive problems (excess gas, bloating)
– Tendency to move or fidget
– Naturally creative and spontaneous
– Has a hard time staying on task
Vata is airy and like the wind. Therefore, people who are dominant in this dosha tend to have drier skin and hair, feel ungrounded and anxious at times, often get distracted and have a harder time staying on one task. When balanced, Vata types are very creative, sensitive individuals who are full of ideas and inspirational energy. They thrive as artists and working in creative think tanks, in a setting where they can generate a million ideas at once.
Balancing Vata dosha involves setting a routine. Vata should wake up, have meals and go to bed at the same time everyday. Sleeping in (if possible) to the later hours of the morning is beneficial. Vatas are balanced by eating lots of warm, cooked and oily foods (soups, stews and curries), which help combat their tendency towards dryness and flighty digestion. This constitution also benefits from slow, constant, repetitive exercise such as restorative or yin yoga and long, gentle walks. Lying in “corpse pose” with pillows across the thighs will help weigh a Vata aggravated person down. That, combined with meditation, can help balance a nervous Vata mind and help ground Vata’s airyness.