Vata is the dosha, or biological humor or constitution, composed of Air & Ether. With this elemental composition Vata has the qualities of light, cold, dry, rough, mobile (also erratic!), subtle and clear.
How to Balance Vata Dosha
According to the teachings of Ayurveda, “Like increases Like”, and “Opposites balance”. To balance vata dosha we use the practices of yoga to cultivate the following qualities:
My teachers, Larissa Hall Carlson and Dr. Scott Blossom, did not teach us that certain practices balance a dosha and others do not. They teach that how we do the practices determines which qualities are increased, and which qualities are decreased. I love this approach because it means that all doshic types can do most, if not all the practices – when appropriate and guided by a qualified teacher.
To balance Vata dosha using posture practice (asana), we would keep the following ideas in mind:
- Regular practice – routine is very important to bring stability to the body-mind. It is of particular importance to balance the erratic quality of mobility that defines vata dosha.
- Emphasize a practice that promotes warming, circulation and downward movement of energy (apana vayu).
- Lots of poses that connect to the earth increase a sense of grounding and stability, this could include reclined, belly down, tabletop, standing postures, and seated postures. Ample forward folds, and hip openers.
- Avoid overworking or straining, which can lead to depletion, anxiety and overwhelm. Our bodies can be more delicate during the vata season, which begins in the fall and continues into the winter.
- Longer warmer heavier savasana – I love using weighted belly bags over the low belly during the fall and winter to help me ground.
To balance Vata dosha using breath work (pranayama), we would keep the following ideas in mind:
- Focus on moving the prana (breath) into the seat of vata, which is the low belly and pelvis.
- Emphasize the inhalation to promote a sense of fullness and nourishment. Maybe even adding a slight pause after the inhalation.
- Slow and even ujjayi (ocean sounding) is helpful to warm the body, circulate the prana and fluids, and calm the mind and emotions.
- Nadi-shodhanam (alternate nostril) is my “go to” breathing exercise during vata season. It is calming and soothing and balances the hemisphere of the brain, which helps calm the mind.
To balance Vata dosha using meditation (dhyana), we would keep the following ideas in mind:
- Take 10 to 30 minutes to meditate – if possible after asana practice.
- If imagery is part of your meditation practice, bring in grounding, warming, and nurturing
- Yoga Nidra, a form a guided meditation, can be very beneficial.
- Candle gazing, known as trataka, is great to build concentration and helps to steady the mind.
- Mantra repetition, known as mantra japa, is useful to pacify an active mind.
Dr. Scott Blossom describes the vata post-practice afterglow as follows:
“Vatas should come away from practice feeling stable, warmed, and calm with tension released from the lower abdomen. Their minds should be peaceful, grounded, and emotionally stable with space and energy for meditation.”
Enjoy using these tips to balance Vata dosha!