Vata Interesting

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • Ayurvedic medicine is something I am not super familiar with, although I have been learning more about it and am extremely interested in learning more.


    It was a part of my recent 200-hour yoga teacher training - an intro to what Ayurveda is, and some of its foundational principles. We took a quiz to help us determine what "type" we were of these three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Turns out, I am a mix of mostly Vata and Pitta, with Vata predominating.


    "I can see that," my yoga teacher said. Huh? What does that mean? Upon learning more, I would say I have to agree with him. Vata tends to be high energy, creative, quick, on the move; but when out of balance, can feel agitated, restless, and ungrounded. Pitta tends to be the fieriest and fiercest of the three - the type that powerfully moves agenda. Kapha, the calm, steady, methodical nature, isn't so much a part of me. Can't say I'm all that surprised by that.

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    What did surprise me is something a very spiritually grounded yogi friend said to me this past week. I had mentioned I have been feeling particularly unsettled, despite the fact that nothing is really out of whack for me in my own life. In fact, I'd say things are going pretty well.


    She remarked that this didn't surprise her, as we are moving into a very Vata-predominant period which can throw a "Vata being" out of whack.


    Before you dismiss this entirely as new-age mumbo-jumbo, consider this: What if there is some legitimacy to this notion of certain "types" feeling more balanced (or unbalanced) during certain seasons, times of day, and/or when making certain lifestyle choices… even if it's a placebo effect? What if you could assess your state of mind (and state of being) and make tweaks to your "care and feeding" to help ease your journey in life, rather than continuing with habits that are anything but life-enhancing?


    And that's exactly where my thinking turned: How can I learn how to use Ayurveda to ease my journey and become more of the Me I want to be? So I did some research on some signs of Vata imbalance. These include:


    -Previously energizing and productive levels of activity will now start to feel out of control (Check)

    -Your mind may race (Check)

    -You may feel anxious or have trouble sleeping (Check, check)

    -You may start skipping meals; digestion becoming irregular (Hold up: I never skip a meal)


    And followed up with some research on things I could try to help restore balance, finding that the theme in Vata-balancing is restoration of warmth, stability, and consistency. Such as:


    -Slowing down, making time and space for yourself

    -Meditating (more often)

    -Not skipping meals

    -Mindfully choosing more "grounding" foods - e.g. cooked root vegetables, thicker vegetable soups and stews as opposed to cold salads/cold fruits and other more "airy" or "cooling" foods

    -Going to (a warm, snuggly) bed earlier and on a regular schedule

    -Making an effort to stay warm

    -Taking a nightly hot bath

    -Cultivating a warm atmosphere using essential oils with warm scents of vanilla, cinnamon, and lavender

  • -Practicing daily self massage (or -- better yet! -- recruit a loved one to lay on hands)

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    -Steering away from intense, endurance exercise in favor of daily, light exercise such as slow strokes in a warm pool, or slow flow, warmed-room yoga classes


    Is this scientific or evidence based, or is it woo-woo bunk effective only via one's power of thinking that it works? I can't tell you definitively either way. What I can tell you is that in my own journey where I continue to seek life-enhancing rather than life-distancing actions, habits, and behaviors, these little tweaks make a big difference for me. So I share with you - and hope that when you need something more than conventional wisdom in wellness, this may help you in finding balance and well-being, no matter what swirls around you.



    Dr. Cindy Haines is a family doctor, medical journalist, and "70.3 yogi." For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.



Published On: November 17, 2013