Autumn has arrived and winter will be here soon.
This time of year you should be cautious to not provoke Vata Dosha! Of all three Doshas, Vata is the driving force behind literally every dynamic process taking place in our bodies. But it is also the most vulnerable Dosha of them all, and creates the most problems when out of balance.
An irregular and sedentary lifestyle and dry, cold and windy weather, typical for the autumn and winter months, are some of the main seasonal causes of Vata imbalance.
The first aim of Ayurveda is the maintainance of health. To prevent ilness it suggests lifestyle modifications and the use of herbal combinations. I have compiled here 10 tips to maintain your optimum Vata physiology!
Wake up an hour before sunrise! According to the daily dosha rythms, three hours before sunrise is the Vata-dominant time. If you wake up within this time frame, your bowel movements will be set in motion – eliminating in the morning is very important to ignite your digestive fire and detoxification process. If you are experiencing constipation, wake up before sunrise. It will alleviate constipation, bloating, and other gut-related gas troubles.
Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. People with Pitta, Vata or Pitta-Vata constitutions should eat warm, nourishing foods for breakfast in the colder months. Steel-cut oatmeal, kunyi, and cooked vegetables are good examples to calm Vata, eliminate cravings and promote a strong digestive fire.
Taking your prescribed Ayurvedic medicine with warm water at breakfast is ideal to calm Vata Dosha. Dasamulaharitaki Leham is excellent to prevent and heal imbalances. It nourishes the muscles but prevents weight gain. A typical dosage is 2 tablespoons of Dasamulaharitaki Leham every morning before breakfast for 21 days. Repeat this cycle every three months. Drinking warm water in the morning helps you to eliminate and rehydrate.
Protect yourself properly from wind and cold with warm, layered clothing. This is a small change and may seem obvious, but it can make all the difference! Everything you experience in your daily life is either taking you out of balance or balancing you - looking at it from that perspective, always taking care of yourself with comfortable, bundled clothing takes on a new importance!
Practice abhyanga. Abhyanga, a nourishing oil massage, is a very easy and powerful method to balance Vata Dosha. Regular abhyanga massages ensure moist, soft, glowing skin. The oils typically used draw toxins and impurities out of the skin as it improves skin texture and sensitivity. If coupled with Ayurvedic massage techniques it strengthens muscles, relaxes your mind and relieves aches and pains. Someone can do this massage on you or you can do it yourself. There are many Vata-pacifying oils, like Maha Narayana Oil, Balaswagandhadi Oil and Dhanwantaram Oil, which can be used on a daily basis.
Indulge yourself in a jacuzzi, sauna or warm bath. These modalities are similar to various swedan procedures used to balance Vata. They provide relief from psychological and physical stress. However, if you tend to have excess Pitta, limit your time in a jacuzzi or sauna to fifteen minutes.
In the cold months it is especially important to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. We get amazing health benefits from sleep - but only if it is at night time. Sleepless nights have a drying effect on your body which aggravates Vata. Be in bed by 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. at the latest!
Eat health fats to increase Kapha Dosha and calm Vata. To do both of these at the same time, take medicated ghee and certain herbal supplements and cook with ghee. Indukanta Ghritam boosts immunity and strengthens digestion. Saraswata Ghritam helps you to not get stressed out or anxious. I usually suggest 1 teaspoon of ghee with warm water at bed time.
Warm, cooked, balanced meals are important to calm Vata. Over eating and eating too little, and eating too many drying foods like salad, crackers and extractive vegetables like leafy greens and beans imbalance Vata. Eat slowly and deliberately, chewing each bite thoroughly, so you know when you are no longer hungry. Be sure to have a balanced meal with 40% extractive vegetables and 60% augmenting!
Moderate exercise will improve your metabolism and ensure a healthy flow of Vata. Vata is vibrant and dynamic. Fast movements like aerobics or cardio, if done for over an hour, have the tendency to increase Vata. If you are prone to excess Vata, speak with a certified Ayurvedic practitioner to have them help you pick out exercises that are better suited for your constitution. A slow, calm Yoga practice and pilates are often good choices for Vata types and in the winter months.
In a nutshell: a balanced diet, a good night’s sleep, moderate exercise and following your natural urges will keep you healthy, happy, strong and balanced this season!
Vaidya Prajakta Apte
The purpose of this article is to provide information about Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health problems please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with our affiliated practitioners. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.
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