Vata Dosha

‘All creatures believe that everything is done for the sake of happiness.  A wise person has the world as their teacher.’                      Vaghabata’s Heart of Medicine 6th CE

How was your month of noticing the elements, their qualities and how you experience them?  What did it reveal to you about yourself and about life?

Quick recap on the PANCMAHABHUTA – the Five Great Elements

  • Ether means space and allows for communication between one part of the body and another.
  • Air is movement, direction and change stirring all creation into life.
  • Fire means light and heat, and governs all transformation in the body.
  • Water is liquidity or flowing motion, the water of life that gives cohesiveness and holds everything together.
  • Earth means matter, solidity or stability; it gives the body form and substance.

This month we explore the Vata Dosha in more detail.


Vata is a combination of ether and air and is the principle of movement.  Vata is our life force (Prana), the energizing force for the entire body which controls all movement:  the blinking of the eyes, the heart beat, breathing in and out, the carrying of messages throughout the nervous system, all movements involved with digestion and elimination, the circulation of blood and lymph.  Vata is also responsible for the movement of ideas in the mind, creativity, spiritual aspiration and comprehension.  Its main site in the body is the colon.  It is also found in the bladder, thighs, ears and bones.  Vata, being the principle of movement can go out of balance on its own.  Without Vata, the other doshas are inert.

Like the wind, Vata people are changeable with irregularities featuring strongly in their physical and emotional make-up.  They can be very tall or very short, with a narrow frame and slight build.  They may have crooked teeth or irregular eyes, or their nose may not be straight. Their weight can change quickly and when stressed they can loose weight easily.  They tend to have prominent bones and joints that often crack.  Their appetite is variable, sometimes they are ravenous, other times they have no appetite at all.  They tend to feel the cold with poor circulation, and any symptoms they have tend to be worse in the cold weather.  They love warmth and sunshine!  Because they are so active and use up so much energy Vata types tend to become dried out, and get dry skin and hair.  With their erratic digestion they can suffer from wind, bloating and discomfort and tend to be prone to bowel problems like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.  Vata types are active and restless and find it hard to relax.

Their sleep tends to be light and easily disturbed and they easily suffer from insomnia.  They can easily get over-stimulated and drive themselves beyond their energy resources.  Vigorous exercise like running and aerobics will aggravate their symptoms even though they may temporarily feel better from it.  Gentle exercise like yoga or Tai chi is much more suitable and they need to learn to relax.  They are prone to poor memory, lack of concentration, fear and anxiety and can suffer from nervous problems like disorientation, tremors, panic attacks and depression.

When in balance Vata people are bright, enthusiastic, creative, full of new ideas and initiative, idealistic and visionary.  They think fast and love travel, change and being with other people.

The most important spiritual challenge for Vata people is to learn how to balance their energy and lifestyle.  Stability allows Vatas to manifest their vision.


  • A thin frame
  • Tend to be underweight or lose weight when under stress
  • Rough, dry skin which can crack easily
  • Eats irregularly and quickly
  • Erratic appetite
  • Erratic memory, takes things in quickly and forgets easily
  • Prone to anxiety, fear
  • Light sleeper, prone to insomnia
  • Active, restless, thinks and does things quickly
  • Difficult to sustain energy, concentration, activity
  • Changeable mood, intense feelings
  • Feels the cold, dislikes the wind.  Symptoms are worse in cold weather
  • Dreams of running, jumping, flying, often fearful


The Ayurvedic principle of ‘like increases like’ helps us nourish our individual rhythms and achieve balance in our lives.

According to this principle, we are nourished by the qualities that are not innate to our individual dosha.  We should avoid the intake of things that are like our own qualities and increase the intake of things that are unlike our qualities.

Vata dosha is a combination of ether and air elements and is therefore nourished by fire, water and earth.

Vata’s quick and irregular rhythms are balanced by qualities of consistency, moistness, heaviness and smoothness.

Vata is aggravated by astringent, bitter and pungent tastes (as they all increase dryness), at the end of a meal, early morning (2 – 6am) and early evening (2 – 6pm), by fear and insecurity, in early autumn and spring, at the latter stage of life, by excessive movement, by dry and cold climates, by going to bed after 11pm.  Because like attracts like there is a natural tendency to be attracted to these!

  • Maintain a steady daily routine around eating and sleeping habits
  • Choose activities that create ease and allow yourself enough time to complete them
  • Slow down and take ample rest
  • Learn relaxation techniques and calm yoga practices
  • Eat wholesome, fresh, warm, moist and grounding foods that are sweet, salty and sour in flavour
  • Drink soft and warm teas – fennel, ginger, liquorice
  • Protect yourself from cold, damp and wet environments
  • Embrace warmth, love and security to help build self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Warm oil massages with sesame oil

In the previous article we looked at an overview of Ayurveda and the 5 Elements. In the next article we will explore the Pitta Dosha which is a combination of the fire and water elements.

Please continue to deepen your awareness of the elements and how they manifest in your body and mind!