10 Ways To Handle A Debilitated Vata (Air element)
According to Ayurvedic sciences-a body of knowledge for natural healing- when the air and space element in the body present in the form of Vata is imbalanced, patients experience restlessness, fatigue, dry skin, cramps and similar other conditions, affecting the mobility aspect in the body. So what solutions does Ayurveda have for people who have a Vata Vyadhi or imbalanced Vata?
According to Ayurveda, the human body is made up of the Pancha Mahabhutas or the Five Great elements – Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Space. Doshas are the three combinations of these elements. Vata (Air and Space), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Earth) are the three bio-elements in the body. Each individual has a particular constitution and a balance of these three in the body. Any imbalance in them over a prolonged period of time can lead to uneasiness, weakness or disease.
Ayurveda Recommends A Few Dos And Don'ts To Balance The Vata
1)Foods favorable for aggravated Vata
For those with Vata imbalance, it is advisable to have food rich in Snehana . The Ayurvedic term ‘Snehana’ indicates food items with smooth or oleate content that is food with healthy fats. In order to reduce Vata, Ayurvda suggests an intake of foods like-milk, clarified butter, cardamom, sour foods and generous use of bay leaves in food.
2) Foods to be avoided
Items that one must stay away from during Vata imbalance are-Chanaka or Bengal gram, Shyama or Black gram, flat beans, barley, blackberries, gourds, honey and dried meat.
3) Activities to avoid
To follow a Vata balancing regimen, certain activities are counter indicative in Ayurveda, like
A) Do not stay awake till late at night since this aggravates the Vata further. According to Ayurveda, the hours between 2 AM and 6AM are dominated by Vata Dosha. Balanced Vata ensures smooth functioning of involuntary functions in the body during this time of the night like respiration, the flow of blood and elimination of waste.
B) Try and avoid activities that induce worry and anxiety. W,with Vata out of balance, you are already prone or inclined towards panic, anxiety and worrying. Activities like watching action or horror films, thinking or over planning about projects at work should be avoided.
C) Do not withhold nature’s calls when you feel the urges.
D) Avoid activities that cause a lot of exertion.
E) Do not fast when your Vata is not balanced because fasting causes Vata to aggravate further, leaving you feeling far more restless and fatigued.
F) Intercourse is counter indicative when the body is going through Vata Vyadhi.
G) Try and avoid traveling or walking long distances since an imbalanced Vata leads to symptoms like tiredness, restlessness, fatigue, insomnia among others.
4) Activities allowed and encouraged under Ayurveda to regulate Vata element-
A) Snehana is one of the main Shodhan or internal detoxification therapies prescribed in Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, Snehana means to oil or smoothen. This therapy softens, smoothens and prepares the body for the removal of the metabolic waste in the body.
B) Swedana or Sweat therapy is where the body is induced to sweat through herbal steam. Swedana is performed right before the detox therapy begins. Swedana improves blood circulation, removes toxins, lubricates the joints, improves the skin, lightens the stress in the body and makes the patient feel deeply relaxed.
C) Body massages with well-formulated Ayurvedic body oils will help calm the Vata in the body. One of the quieter and heavenly places for finest Ayurvedic Spa and massage treatments that few people know of is the Art of Living Retreat Center , nestled at the top of Blue Ridge mountains. The center has all the ingredients-spa retreats, Panchakarma retreats, Yoga and Ayurveda retreat among other wellness retreats, that go into making a relaxed and rejuvenating vacation with some quality soul-time.
D) Murdhi Taila or oil treatment on the head such that the herbal oil is rubbed all over the scalp and it is allowed to stay on the scalp for a given period of time.
E) Sneha Gandusha (gargling with oil)Since vitiated Vata can cause dryness and thinning of skin, Ayurveda recommends you introduce oil gargling or oil pulling into your daily regimen in the morning. According to one of the most authoritative texts on Ayurveda, Charak Samhita, Sneha Gandush should ideally be made of nutmeg, hellebore, areca nut, clove, Java pepper, and camphor extract.
F) Soft bedFor better sleep, it is advised to sleep on a soft bed for Vata Vyadhi patients.
G) Exposure to heatYou can get some heat from the sun on you to treat the imbalances in Vata.
H) Practice Alternative nostril breathing or Nadishodhan Pranayam
There is nothing like 5 minutes of Nadi Shodhan Pranayama or alternate nostrils breathing to prepare you for taming the Vata. Nadi translates to subtle energy channels and Shodhan is understood as clearing. This breathing exercise clears your subtle nerve channels, balances the movement of life force through them leaving you feeling calm and energized.
- Sit comfortably, spine erect and shoulders relaxed. Place your left hand on the left knee, palms open to the sky.
- Take the index finger and middle finger of your right hand and place it in between your eyebrows
- The ring finger and little finger will be on the left nostril, and the thumb on the right nostril.
- Press the right thumb down on the right nostril and gently breathe out gently from the left nostril.
- Next, breathe in from the left nostril and then press down the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger. Remove the right thumb and breathe out from the right.
- Again, breathe in from the right and breathe out from the left nostril. These steps make one round of alternate nostril breathing. Repeat the cycle for at least nine times. Keep your eyes closed all the time.
H) Jala Basti or abdominal cleansing with water
Jal Basti is one of the Yogic processes to purify the body also called Shat Kriya. It involves inner cleansing and detox of the abdomen region by sucking in water from the anus.
-Jala Basti improves blood circulation
-Improves the digestive system as it cleanses the stomach walls and intestines internally. Good for treating constipation and diarrhea.
-empowers the solar plexus, which some scientists call the ‘little brain’ in our body located near the naval region. Strengthening the solar plexus is said to improve intuitive abilities in an individual.
I) MeditationSince you may experience b emotions when the air element in the body is vitiated, we recommend, practicing guided meditations tailor-made for balancing the Dosha imbalances in the body is bly recommended, like this Transforming Emotions meditation.
J) Sudarshan Kriya YogaAnother really effective tool is a powerful rhythmic breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, taught in the Art of Living's Happiness Program. The technique has helped over 3.7 million people all over the world to feel calmer, relaxed, clear, less anxious and less worried only after a half an hour practice every day.
(Inputs from Dr. Nibin Nirmalan, a Senior Sri Sri Ayurveda expert from Sri Sri College of Ayurvedic Science and Research Center, Bangalore, India)
Disclaimer: The conditions and illnesses could also be due to a mix of Dosha imbalances. Please do not try to self-diagnose. This article is purely for informational purpose. We bly recommend you consult a Sri Sri Ayurveda physician for a thorough examination of Doshas. Picture credits
Clarified butter- www.ebay.com