What is Vata?
As we move from fall to winter, we find ourselves getting deeper into the season of vata. Being comprised of the two subtlest elements: ether (space) and air, vata is considered the king dosha (biological energy) and is the only dosha with the element air. Air governs movement and is frequently the prime mover behind most imbalances. Just like space vata is everywhere.
Where is Vata in the Body?
In our bodies vata is concentrated in the bones and the lower part of the body in the colon, hips, thighs and legs. Vata loves movement and change but too much can be depleting. Sometimes people with elevated vata run from stability when they need it the most. Vata governs all gross and subtle movements of the body and is likened to the Nervous System. It also rules the movement of the mind; hence someone with excessive vata may have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and making decisions.
There is a saying in Ayurveda that like increases like and opposites balance. Some qualities of vata are: light, dry, cold, and mobile. Naturally, it can easily get aggravated in fall and winter which are generally cold, windy, and dry seasons. When vata is high in the atmosphere people can be prone to seasonal colds, restlessness, anxiety, gas, and constipation.
Restoring Balance to Aggravated Vata
Balance can be restored by consuming warming and grounding foods and through nurturing lifestyle practices. During this time Ayurveda advises us to favour warm, moist, oily, and heavy foods; sweet, sour, and salty tastes. It is recommended to reduce cold, raw, dry, and light foods, as well as too much bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. Spending time in good company, resting, eating in stress free situations, as well as gentle yoga are great practices to help pacify vata in the fall and winter. Favour warm cooked seasonal foods such as roots, tubers, squashes, sweet fruits, nuts, meat, cheese, sweet grains like rice, quinoa, and wheat, with sesame oil, olive oil, and ghee.
Favour these spices:
Warming herbs and spices to help ward off colds and keep your digestion strong are: black pepper, pink Himalayan salt, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, ginger, mustard, allspice, cardamom, coriander, asafoetida (hing), dry basil, sage, rosemary, ajwain, poppy, sesame, bay leaf, caraway, marjoram, saffron, paprika, oregano, star anise, and chili and cayenne if well tolerated.