Perhaps you are familiar with the term Vata, as it is used to describe an individual’s constitution. But it is more than that. It is an energy that combines the qualities of the elements "space" and "air". You could liken it to "wind", and because of that it is very mobile, light, dry, and cold. Vata governs the end of the year, and is at the end of a person’s life. It is the dryness after the fruit has ripened. It is the tiredness in the body after a long day of work. It is the deficiency that appears with aging. Vata is most present in the Fall, when the summer heat has dried the earth, and the weather becomes changeable and colder.
Identifying signs of excess Vata can help us nurture the body back into balance. Vata resides in the colon creating dryness and constipation. It reveals itself in the form of dry hair, brittle nails, and arthritis. It often aggravates the ears, causing ringing and sometimes disturbs the equilibrium. It floods the mind with anxiety, fear and racing thoughts.
Don’t be fooled though, Vata is a beautiful and necessary aspect of all living things and without it there wouldn’t be life. Vata fuels creativity, flexibility and energy. Individuals with Vata constitutions are often artists, great thinkers and imaginative types.
In my experience, the quickest remedy besides a simple nourishing diet, is to slow down. Vata thrives with routine to keep its energies stable and more predictable. Vata can be like a gust of wind that can sweep you off your feet. In times when you find that wind moving through you, become aware that it is simply an excess of Vata. Just as simply as you remove a glass from beneath the faucet so it doesn't overflow, you may remove the qualities of your life that add more Vata. To pacify excess vata, begin with digestion. The nutritional deficiencies of Vata can be remedied by choosing a comforting, nurturing and easy to digest diet. During the Fall in particular favor quality proteins, sustaining carbohydrates and healthful fats and oils. The sweet taste is most beneficial for alleviating excess vata. By sweet, that doesn’t mean sugar, it means the sweet tastes of nature. Sweet foods such as rice, oatmeal, warm spiced milk, ghee, eggs, broth, and pumpkin are examples of good nourishing foods for vata during fall. Slow down by bringing awareness to the pace of your speech, the speed of your walking, the activity of your mind. Meditate on the notion of slow. In moments when you find it challenging to slow down, practice grounding yoga. Imagine your feet as roots to the earth and plant them where they are, be still and silent. With dedication to nourishing your body, creating mindfulness and practice, all will find its balance.
Megan Fleming for Marin Ayurveda