Pacifying Vata: Food for Thought
Its late January in NM and many of us are noticing how cold its been lately. I have literally not left my house short of wearing three layers. Not to mention, my skin, mouth and nose have been extremely dry when I wake up, and takes lots of nourishing restoration to recover like lots of shea butter, tea all day, and nasya oil.
Dialing in to Ayurveda, I have been trying to pacify the Vata qualities I’ve been noticing. And as one of my yoga teachers always says, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm. If there is a Vata imbalance in the microcosm, there must be a noticeable provocation of Vata in the macrocosm.
Lets begin with understanding a little about Ayurveda or “science of life”. Within the Indian Ayurvedic system there are three doshas or constitutions that make up the body, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Different combinations, which are as delicately unique as a thumbprint, make up each person. The dosha we’ll focus on for the sake of midwinter rejuvenation is Vata. Vata is associated with the elements air and ether (space). It is characterized as having the qualities of dryness, coldness, lightness, roughness, subtleness, mobility, and clarity. A person with Vata as their primary dosha, would typically encompass some or most of these characteristics. Not only does Ayurveda focus on the human body, but the bigger picture as well. Vata can be associated with a season, like winter for instance.
As I've been experiencing the cold, dryness, and lightness that correlates with winter, and focus on how I can pacify them. In Ayurveda, I've learned “like creates more like, and opposite heals.” To pacify these qualities, we would want to implement their opposites. For dryness, lets use dry skin for example, massaging sesame oil onto our skin to nourish and pacify Vata. For coldness, we could introduce warming asanas into our daily winter practice such as standing asanas, and hip openers. For lightness, we could intend rooting and grounding into our daily meditation.
All this being said, I’d like to focus on what we put into our bodies that can pacify Vata, food. Vata can be neutralized with oily foods, heating foods, nourishing foods, aphrodisiacs, sweets, salty foods, sour foods, oils, and meats.
A list of specific foods to pacify Vata and also foods to avoid (while pacifying Vata) can be learned more in depth in this link to Banyan Botanicals.
Here is one recipe for Chai tea, a list of Aphrodesiac herbs to work with, and a recipe for every meal of the day.
I use Masala Chai,organic, loose leaf tea from New Mexico Tea Co. It is extremely delicious and has black peppercorns which initiates more of a warming effect to neutralize Vata as well as the traditional ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom that’s in the tea.
4 cups water
4 teaspoons Masala Chai tea mix
Your milk of choice (I use coconut, almond or hemp milk)
Honey or Agave
Boil the 4 cups of water and add the Masala Chai tea mix in a tea ball or straight up and strain later. Let it steep for about six minutes. Fill each cup about ¾ full and fill the rest with your milk of choice. Add about a teaspoon of honey or agave. Stir and enjoy.
Blueberry, Almond, Coconut Oatmeal
1.5 cups your milk of choice
1.5 cups of oats
½ teaspoon salt (pink Himalayan, sea salt, kosher)
½ cup blueberries (I use frozen since they’re not in season)
½ cup almonds
Heat milk to a simmer. Add oats and salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes stirring occasionally until thickened. Add water or more milk in case oatmeal is drying out. Turn off heat and add blueberries, almonds, coconuts, and honey and let sit for a few minutes.
I included for the next two meals, two recipes from Svastha Ayurveda, out of Boulder Colorado, that are phenomenal.
Last but not least, I wanted to include a list of a variety of Aphrodisiac herbs to try out from many different cultures around the world. These can help pacify Vata, and most bring more blood circulation to your entire body, warming you. You can make teas or tinctures out of these herbs. See how they effect your body, and remember its all in divine play.
Damiana, Ashwaganda, Shatarari, Rhodiola Rosea, Saffron, Nutmeg, Clove, Maca
Mucuna, Cinnamon, Saw Palmetto, Skullcap, Passion Flower, Horny Goat Weed
Hopefully, these tasty meals, and tea can help you pacify any Vata qualities that may be disrupting you this winter season. After all, food is our medicine, and we can start addressing issues from the inside out. Stay warm and nourished, yoga family.