By Shannon Chada –
Just as a yoga practice is unique to each individual, so is the art of being in-tune with our doshas. We are all different in mind and body; and our yoga practice should be a unique devotion to our over-all wellness. Using supportive asanas (postures), pranayama (breath-work), nutritional choices, herbs, spices and essential oils specific to your dosha is an important aspect of your yoga practice.
This month our attention is on the Vata Dosha, which governs the movement of all things. We experience Vata with a creative “on the go” enthusiastic attitude. Vata is cold, dry, light, subtle, flowing, mobile, sharp, hard, rough and clear. Ruled by the elements the air and ether, Vata can be the life of the party– flexible, light-hearted and ready to take initiative. When it’s in flux, it may tend towards anxiety, nervousness, overwhelm, and worry; or the ego may out act out as privileged and self-righteous.
Vata is primarily located in the colon, thighs, hips, ears, bones and organs of touch. It gives life to all things. It is responsible for breathing, movement, flexibility and biological processes. It governs the nervous system and sensory functions.
Examples of emotional and physical Vata Overflow are: anxiety, addiction, moodiness, fatigue, insomnia, aches and pain in the body, osteoarthritis, dehydration, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, light or painful menses, sensitivity to cold, and constipation.
Excessive Vata can be counterbalanced with nutritious and tissue-building foods that are warm, moist, heavy, soft and oily, as well as foods with a sweet, sour and salty taste. A person with a Vata constitution should favor foods like hot cereal with ghee, hearty soups, vegetables, whole cooked grains and chapatis. Spicy foods are generally fine for Vata.
Vata would want to steer away from aggravating foods, such as: crackers, frozen desserts, and large amounts of raw vegetables and salads. Also refined foods, such as white flour and sugar, have light and dry qualities that would be best avoided by people with Vata constitutions. Pungent, bitter, astringent foods, as well as light, dry, cold foods, stimulants including smoking, alcohol, junk food, sugar, tea (especially long leaf teas and green tea) and brown rice will all aggravate Vata.
To help balance Vata Dosha in your Yoga Practice:
- Use grounded and slow moving asanas, exploring fluidity with gentle movement like spinal twists, rotation in the joints, operating flexion and extension actions. Stay warm, do not over extend or deplete energy. Instead staying connected to the earth, and focus on lengthening inhalation and exhalation. Try mountain pose, tree pose, forward bends, legs up the wall, along with Supine Twists to support digestion and elevation to adrenal and urinary systems.
- If Vata is out of balance choose asanas that focus on the lower abdominal region (from the navel down) such as pacimottanasa (seated forward bend), pavanamuktasana (wind-release pose) and marjaryasana (cat-cow pose).
- When selecting essential oils to support Vata, choose sweet warming oils that enhance serenity, soothe emotions and the mind– geranium, ylang-ylang, sweet orange, frankincense, chamomile, cinnamon, eucalyptus, ginger, jasmine, patchouli, rosewood, sandalwood, vetiver and rose.
If you are looking to take your yoga wellness journey deeper and are interested in working with an Ayurvedic Professional, I highly recommend Karla Cain of Satvic Sage, www.sattvicsage.com.
Shannon Chada is a Spiritual Holistic Practitioner of Full Circle Harmony Ministry. She has 15+ years experience as an Essential Oil Educator, Reiki Master Teacher, and Certified Yoga Instructor, www.FullCircleHarmony.org.