Vata dosha is the mind-body constitution that is made up of the two elements air and space. People who have a dominant vata dosha tend to be on the move, energetic, and always seeking new experiences. Like air and space, vatas are difficult to pin down. They always come up with new ideas, and have an optimistic viewpoint of life in general. They are talkative, impulsive, and excitable. They can also be touchy, moody, and restless.
Physically, vata dosha types tend to be slim with angular features and dry skin. Vatas are often cold when others are not. Their appetite is irregular and digestion is sensitive. They crave sour, salty, and acidic foods. Emotionally, they easily experience anxiety, fear, and uncertainty.
When vata is in excess, a person may experience insomnia, restlessness, or have an inability to listen. Constipation, diarrhea, or gas and bloating may exist as well as excessively dry skin. Nervousness, anxiety, and scattered thoughts are common when vata is out of balance.
There are a number of practices that can help to balance vata. A yoga practice that is grounding, with plenty of standing poses, is helpful. The warming effects of vinyasa yoga are beneficial for vata imbalance. The calming effect of ujjayi breathing is also beneficial for vata types. Sticking with one particular practice or teacher can also be helpful for vata imbalances as this can provide a sense of stability and ground.
An excellent mantra for vata types is the Ganesha mantra: Om gam ganapataye namaha (Om Ganesha, the remover of obstacles). Repeating this mantra during meditation is a healing practice for vata imbalance.
When it comes to diet, balancing vata dosha involves eating foods that are pungent, sour, salty, and sweet while reducing bitter and astringent foods. Reducing vegetables that are more difficult to digest, such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, is recommended. Increasing consumption of ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, sea salt, mustard, and black pepper will be helpful. Eliminating coffee and alcohol is best for vata imbalance.
Whether your dosha is vata dominant or vata-pitta dominant, many of the practices that help to balance vata will be helpful to you at some point as we all move toward vata as we age. Take time to notice your own tendencies and do what you can to balance your doshas when you notice an imbalance. You may find that you understand yourself more because of this practice.