Balancing Vata’s Qualities


Vata substances have many qualities or attributes. These are given below in capital letters along the left margin. One can offset, balance, palliate, reduce the disturbed principle by avoiding certain diet, lifestyle, and other experiences and by DOING some things of the opposite attribute or energy. Read and follow the list below for how to balance vata.


AVOID the CAPITALIZED by DOING the following to help balance Vata


DRY—avoid or reduce raw foods, dry climates, alcohol, eat oily foods—cook with oil, add ghee to breads not toasted, add oil to salads, etc; daily oil massage makes the skin softer and helps strengthen yet soften it—sesame is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antineoplastic (colon cancer and melanoma); oil in other orifices is also a good idea for similar reasons; most soaps/determents are drying / harsh to skin—use soaps (not detergents) such as castile soap; essential fatty acids are important for the maintenance of the cell membrane’s liquidity, flexibility


LIGHT—avoid windy areas/weather, high altitudes; light foods should be reduced (they lack oiliness or protein-like components);  substitute heavy bedding / clothing for light bedding / clothing—heavy things help ground vata;  alcohol is light and should be avoided; the color green is good for reducing vata (green is nourishing and probably heavy in this context), while black is to be avoided; day sleep may be an important behavioral modification for those struggling with light body weight; at times sleep in the night will be light for this group of people, in which case herbal strategies might include nutmeg, valerian, skullcap, etc.


COLD—avoid situations which promote, provoke, increase or otherwise bring your attention to depression, attachment, worry, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, insecurity, helplessness; avoid cold food, drink & weather / air conditioning, cold dairy, sweets, yogurt (and especially in evening), aged cheeses, cucumbers; to promote and increase digestive function  affected by this attribute eat pungent foods and spices such as chilies, black pepper, ginger, cayenne, cumin, ajvain, hing (asafetida), mustard seeds, drink copper water (water stored overnight in pure copper container); favor hot / moist saunas, hot, moist living climates; meditate daily to stimulate mental fire, use mustard oil in cooking or externally for its heating property (when oil is not contraindicated); wear warm clothing, scarves, hats, to prevent chilling in cool, windy weather, etc.; despite the above advice to walk  barefoot for grounding avoid walking on cold surfaces


ROUGH—avoid eating raw foods, which are rough in their nature;  rough surfaces irritate vata sensibilities; many cleansers are rough to skin so avoid them by using gloves, etc.;  the feature is implied in uneven sleeping surfaces—avoid them; avoid experiencing sentiments that are harsh, cruel, crass, rough


SUBTLE—those sensory, mental, emotional experiences which are strong and create impressions on the person should be avoided;  alcohol is subtle and should be minimized/avoided;  stimulants generally should be avoided


MOBILE / ERRATIC—avoid excessive physical or mental activity; avoid physical activity that is stop-and-go in its quality;  avoid vigorous physical activity during the vata time 2-6 PM; daily routine should be regular to help control this vata quality; grounding activities help slow down vata—walking on the earth in bare feet or working in the soil (gardening) with bare hands; gazing at the mountains helps ground vata movement; creating bonds with groups and things helps build roots—e.g. owning pets and joining affinity or support groups; swaying, swinging, agitated movements of limbs is a sign of deficient/defective rest, which suggests that one should stop the nervous motion and expand and improve the quantity/quality of rest


CLEAR—clear quality accompanies light and rough things or foods, especially air, alcohol and such; one should reduce exposure to these; take more oily/heavy food (cloudy foods are opposite to clear—these include milk products);  viewing colored materials—colored light, colors in nature, etc. in the green, red, orange, and yellow spectra helps balance this feature of vata (while other colors are strictly speaking opposite to clear these are not balancing to vata);  alcohol is clear and should be avoided


BITTER—bitter taste in the mouth is indication of high vata; avoid or reduce  bitter tasting foods such as mustard, collard greens, etc.;  bitterness in emotions produces separation / isolation--situations which provoke it should be avoided; isolation in life also leads to increased bitterness and suggest a balance of social interaction for a healthy/happy life


ASTRINGENT—avoid or reduce astringent foods as they are drying—these include mainly beans, but also apples, pears, pomegranates, etc.; wind is drying unless especially humid and should be reduced;


RAJAS—this feature of the mind, common to vata, promotes the active / dynamic aspects of life, addictive behavior, self-centered behavior—these features should be avoided as much as possible


The Big Picture

1.      Remove the causes of the imbalance by direct behavioral avoidance; give particular attention to the attributes of the imbalance as detailed above

2.      Remove excess vata by elimination therapies—pancha karma

·        Do therapeutic enemas as indicated

·        Do nasal administrations as indicated

·        Do heating, oleating, nourishing therapies as indicated

3.      Balance vata

·        Avoid its attributes in food, emotions, thinking, lifestyle

·        control metabolism and the nervous system with dietary, lifestyle, and activity changes to promote groundedness, heaviness, and oiliness

4.      Balance / strengthen digestion

·        Increase fire component in food, lifestyle

·        Increase sour and salty foods in diet especially when cold is problematic to the imbalance

5.      Eliminate tissue toxicity—

·        Herbal and dietary strategies that help eliminate heavy metals, petro-chemicals etc.

·        Avoid suppression of urges

6.      Rejuvenation of tissues with herbals and behavioral programs as indicated



© Copyright 2001 Michael S. Dick All Rights Reserved