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.