Yoga is for everyone!
It is starting to feel like Fall again, and I am reminded in no uncertain terms what it is to be a Vata dosha. I was much happier during the Spring and Summer, but now that the weather has turned to cold, windy, and dry, I am feeling the effect on my constitution, which is made of the same stuff. Let's take a look at the eternal dance of Nature and Dosha.
Vata dosha is light, dry, and cold. In individuals who have this dosha as dominant (remember, we have all three doshas expressed in us, but to varying degrees), it gives one a distinctive appearance. Vata gives them the thin, light bone structure (Vatas are usually too tall or too short), as well as erratic, spacey and easily distracted mind. Their bones are often misshapen in some way - scoliosis, crooked teeth, flat feet: something will be going on with their solid structure, because energetically they are governed by the most subtle and mobile energy, which manifests physically this way. It is as if there is not enough solidity in them. I am a good example of a Vata!
When in a state of balance, people with Vata as their dominant dosha are a delight to be around - they are creative, fun, outgoing, capable of flashes of brilliance. Vatas are kept in that state of balance through a regular routine, a structured lifestyle, a bowl of nourishing soup, and humid, warm weather. But, when Fall comes, Vatas often feel the effects of not only the weather, but of too much work, irregular schedule, and irregular meals. The result? They become anxious, neurotic insomniacs. They shock their friends with their emaciated frames. The brilliant projects are either not finished, or some vital aspect is overlooked, forgotten, or misplaced. Too much talking, not enough substance!
And not just Vatas, everyone who feels the dryness in their crackly joints and dry skin, the stress of deadlines, the crash of energy in mid-afternoon, are experiencing this dosha being out of balance - bursts of frenetic energy interspersed with listlessness and fatigue.
Our Western culture has a lot of Vata-dominant types. I will write another post on Kaphas and Pittas, but suffice it to say for now that the dosha combinations I encounter most frequently in my Yoga classes are Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Vata, or Vata-Kapha, in that order. We are often attracted to things that imbalance us further, because "like" increases "like." Vatas love to move! They adore travel, change of scene, new hobbies, friends, new foods, ideas, things. But too much of that - and Vatas pay the price, especially when Nature around us is incarnation of Vata itself.
I rely on Ayurveda to steer me through this challenging time of the year. I fire up my sauna. I make a big pot of soup. I wear socks and apply warm oil to my skin. Sometimes I am unable to do much about the erratic schedule, but I at least try to go to bed on time. I try to save up some money to take a vacation to a warm place during the winter, when I am particularly vulnerable. I do Yoga with an emphasis on stress relief and relaxation.
Speaking of Yoga. Practices that are grounding, moderately paced, not too streneous but enough to build up some mild heat would be most helpful to easily-fatigued Vatas. Counting the breath or adding a mantra are great to focus the spacey Vata mind. Pranayamas that soothe anxieties are also very beneficial, such as Seetali or Nadi Shodhana, for which I have tutorials on my Youtube channel. Spending time on the ground (the floor) and moving Vata energy from its seat of accumulation in the colon with Apanasana, as well as keeping the legs and feet warm and their joints well-lubricated should get us all through the Vata season. Let's take a look at what I've lined up as my favorite Vata-pacifying Yoga in the video below. Join me!