In Sanskrit, Vata comes from the root word VAH which means “vehicle”, “to carry” or “move things”. Vata is therefore responsible for all movements in the body. One could say Vata is responsible for Life, life force or Prana (close to the concept of “Chi” in Chinese medicine). Indeed, when there is no movement, there is no life. Mobility is responsible for joy, happiness, creativity, speech, sneezing and all elimination processes in the body (excretion, periods, birth and so on).
The qualities of Vata are: dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear.
This means activities or food presenting the same qualities will aggravate the VATA dosha (for example crackers which are dry or cold raw vegs are not advisable to the Vata constitution).
Vata is associated with brown-ish or grey colours.
The Vata tastes are astringent, bitter and pungent: eating food presenting these qualities will lead to an aggravated vata dosha while Sour, Sweet and Salty tastes will alleviated it.
Vata is responsible for everything sound: hearing and speech, the vocal cords, the ears. But also responsible for everything “touch” related such as the skin, giving and receiving, the hands.
The Vata body type has the advantages and inconveniences of its nature. It takes on the properties of Vata which are light, swift, clear, subtle, quick but also dry and rough. These will find their way in all aspects of your physical life: for example, this is a Vata attribute to have dry skin and cracking joints but it's also a Vata attribute to be quick thinkers and and honest lovers..
Physically, you are probably slim or petite, long, very tall or very short and you don't really know what it is to gain weight. If Anything, you have a hard time putting it on when you try to as fat isn't really your thing. Later on, in life, you might stock a bit of fat around the belt and lower abdomen believing this is totally unacceptable and dramatic. That often forces you to take extreme measures such as fasting or going on a juice diet. Extremes are the apanage of the Vata constitution.
Your bodily features aren't necessarily symmetrical (Vata constitutions suffer most from scoliosis, as an example): the nose and teeth might be angular, slightly crooked. Your hair might often be frizzy, simply unruly or fine. Your nails tend to break easily or split due to the excess dryness. You are most prone to constipation, dryness of the skin and cold hands and feet.
In terms of appetite you eat sparsely, sometime 4 to 5 a day but in little quantities or on-the-go. You often have snacks, pick and eat small amounts of food while cooking and eat little during main meals as a result. You are attracted to high content water raw fruits and vegs like cucumbers, melons or watermelons and your appetite and thirst are irregular. You could become a Vegan, go on a fasting week followed by a chocolate pancakes binge. You often crave sugars and salty foods and like the sour (acidic) taste. These three alleviate the Vata body type and are recommended tastes in balancing the Vata dosha.
You prefer high intensity exercise or thrilling experiences. You like the wind (but too much of it drives you crazy), fresh air, the outdoors, action, swift exercises, playing tennis, horse riding, cycling. Everything that gets you to move is your cup of tea.
You surely have had recurring constipation episodes, and might have experienced asthma, allergies or eczema. Vata Women usually report irregular, short and light periods. The Vata constitution has limited stamina (but is the best at running short distances), cracking joints and lower immunity due to a more subtle and fragile constitution.
The Vata Mental & Emotional type
Thoughts are quick and come and go. Vata can show seemingly erratic behaviour: “Yes, well no, but wait, no, yes, ok”... Easily excited and enthusiastic, Vata personalities are quick to act without too much thinking. Usually disorganised, they get excited by an idea but might not finish the task at hand. Following through is difficult for Vata. Air-headed, Vata types always seem very busy but not necessarily bringing the results home.
They are the poets, the kings of Imagination and day-dreamers. They are the creative souls, the inventors, the artists, the quick witted, the abstract thinkers.
Vata is truly emotional and sensitive. There is a hidden kid carrying his heart on his sleeve in the Vata type adult. Loving and honest people, they could stay in a relationship for fear of being lonely otherwise. They often experience fear of darkness, height or enclosed spaces. They have a tendency to change all the time which shows through their love for traveling, cycling, horse-riding, or by moving furniture around, changing residence. All that to avoid being bored. Vata seeks constant action and has a hard time staying idle. Vata is naturally incline to extremes rather than choosing the middle way.
Quick witted, Vata constitutions can make good money but spend on trifle without care.
The dark side of VATA:
When imbalanced, Vata shows fear and anxiety, worry & agitation. Very emotional, Vata constitutions manifest their imbalance through the nervous system (among others). Overindulgence and balance is the challenge for Vata people. because they overdo everything: food binges, extreme sports, from total detox and fasting to binging on Nutella pancakes.
Tips for the Vata Type
Overall: The trick for Vata constitution is to counter the dryness and cold. That means that you should avoid or limit the consumption of these properties, for example: crackers, salty dry food, dried fruits and even cold and dry weather.
Introducing oileation to your daily routine will work wonders: massage the full body at least 3 to 4 times a week. Spend times on your joints (hands, feet, knees elbows, scalp and so forth). Use a basic sesame organic oil or a "Vata Oil" in the winter and coco oil in Summer.
Diet: Introduce ghee (clarified butter) as your cooking oil or coconut oil (in summer).
Eat cooked foods rather than raw vegs. Prefer warm foods to cold ones and unctuous creamy rather than dry foods. Include sugars in their natural form: cooked beans, pulses, and honey. Promote unctuous, creamy and soothing foods (rice milk with honey and cinnamon). Limit yourself to 3 meals a day and avoid snacking. This will be easy if you eat more cooked grains and pulses.
Avoid extremes & add structure to your day: fasting then going on a binge, or having a sauna then a cold shower... aren't recommended. Most importantly, Vata due to its air nature can easily be scattered and distracted. Introduce basic routines such as regular waking up/sleeping and meals times. Limiting yourself to 3 (sitting) meals will help your digestive tract rest between meals, eliminate toxins thus digesting and assimilating food in a healthy way. Decide to focus on one task at the time to feel complete and promote focus. Consistency, schedules, emotional stability, meditation and loads of love are good solutions to keep the Vata constitution in balance.
`Your environment: Avoid windy, cold and dry weather. If travelling a lot, make sure to find sedentary quiet moments in a warm and cocoon-like environment to ground and find stability. Make sure you care for what you listen to, the sounds coming to you or out of you, as you are sensitive to dissonant and inharmonious sounds and music. Be attentive to your nervous system and use meditation or a gentle form of yoga to settle it. Make sure to work on flexibility, stretching and keep working your often-cracking joints with gentleness and care (the diet above will help with that).
FIND THE MIDDLE WAY
What Vata needs is to find balance and avoid extremes: a cosy warm home to return to or a wholesome sentimental environment (children will for example help Vata with being structured and grow roots), basic structures such as meal times and oileation will dramatically change the game for the best. Keeping Vata down to earth helps them develop their creativity and genius ideas into real achievements.
Eating cooked food rather than raw, Meditation, grounding practices, lower frequencies sounds, finding the middle way and staying away from excesses is the Vata challenge but also its solution.