How to Balance Vata During Vata Season
As we progress further into fall and rapidly approach winter, the weather in many regions is becoming cold and dry, and along with that comes increased Vata. Fall and early winter are considered Vata season, with the cold, dry, clear, and moving qualities that characterize Vata. If you have a Vata-dominant constitution, it is important to keep these qualities in balance. Doing so will ensure that you stay healthy, energetic, and creative.
However, if Vata becomes imbalanced in the body, you are prone to mental and physical disorders that are more common in Vata-dominant individuals. These include anxiety, depression, joint pain, dry skin, and constipation. In order to maintain physical and mental health, it is essential to keep Vata qualities balanced during Vata season.
Use these 10 strategies to maintain optimal health during Vata season:
1. Eat Plenty of Warming Foods
It is always important for those with a Vata-dominant constitution to follow a Vata-balancing diet. This is even more important during Vata season, when it is much easier to become imbalanced. Favor warming foods that can help to counteract the effects of cold and dry weather.
Cook with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Also be sure to include oily foods such as coconut and ghee. These foods will help the body to generate heat and stay warm through the fall and early winter months. Moist foods like avocado and banana will help to combat fall and winter dryness.
During Vata season, It is especially important to avoid foods that aggravate Vata, especially leafy vegetables and raw, dry, or cold foods.
2. Supplement with Vata-Balancing Herbs
Supplementation with herbal remedies can be a valuable addition to a balancing diet and lifestyle. These are a few of my favorite options for balancing Vata:
Healthy Vata – Promotes and maintains balanced Vata and removes excess Vata from the body.
Triphala – Beneficial for digestive health and eases constipation, which can be more problematic when Vata is out of balance and can increase Vata.
Haritaki – One of the best herbs for balancing Vata, nourishes the tissues, and supports healthy digestion
Yogaraj Guggulu – Supports healthy joints and muscles and assists in the elimination of toxins
3. Use Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
During Vata season, use essential oils to lessen Vata in the body and promote balance. Choose oils that are warming and remove toxins that have accumulated. Diffuse a selection of these essential oil blends in the home to help reduce Vata:
Clary Sage and Bergamot
- 1/4 oz Avocado Oil
- 10 drops Clary Sage Essential Oil
- 2 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
- 1 drop Frankincense Essential Oil
- 1/4 oz Sesame Oil
- 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 2 drops Myrtle Essential Oil
- 1 drop Carrot Seed Oil
- 1/4 oz Walnut Oil
- 10 drops Cardamom Essential Oil
- 2 drops Allspice Essential Oil
- 1 drop Cinnamon Essential Oil
4. Engage in Vata-Balancing Movement
Avoid vigorous exercise, which may be warming initially, but aggravates Vata and can worsen a Vata imbalance in the body. Instead, choose more relaxed activities such as swimming, tai chi, long walks, gentle bike rides, and yoga.
Refrain from exercising to exhaustion. It is best to exercise to approximately 50% of your capacity. Movement should strengthen your constitution rather than deplete your body of energy. Exercise only for the length of time that allows your body to gain energy without being depleting. This varies for everyone, but 30 minutes is often a good amount of time for moderate movement.
5. Embrace the Balancing Power of Yoga
Yoga is an ideal form of movement for Vata individuals. It calms and balances the body, encouraging warmth without aggravating Vata. It is important to start your yoga practice with the right mental attitude in order to practice in a way that reduces vata. Bring the mind into a calm state by slowing and deepening the breath before beginning any postures.
Warm up gradually and practice in a warm room to keep muscles supple and allow them to move easily. Be sure to stay aware of overexertion, and do not attempt any postures before the body is ready. Move slowly throughout your practice, using gentle movements and focusing on the breath. Repeat poses and hold them for short periods of time.
Seated poses are grounding and helpful for Vata. Gentle spinal twists are also an excellent option, as they remove excess Vata from the nervous system. The following poses are calming and balancing for Vata:
Seated poses – grounding and calming, help to create stillness in the lower abdomen
Backbends – must be done slowly and gently
Forward Bends – help to relieve Vata that builds up in the back in the form of stiffness and tension
Tree Pose – helps to develop strength, stability, and calmness and requires patience to master
End your practice with a long savasana
6. Get Enough High-Quality Sleep
Vata-dominant individuals are prone to insomnia when out of balance. Lack of sleep then worsens the imbalance, perpetuating the cycle. It is important to take steps to improve sleep length and quality in order to bring the mind and body into balance. This is especially the case during Vata season in order to avoid disease and disruption.
Supplementation can be valuable If you have trouble sleeping. I highly recommend the I Sleep Soundly supplement, which can be helpful in relaxing muscles and calming the mind.
Banyan Botanicals makes an oil especially designed to support sleep. Apply Sleep Easy Oil to the scalp, temples, and feet before bed. Gently massage these areas to encourage relaxation. The gentle scent will also help to promote sleep.
In addition to supplementation, you can use tools to prepare the mind and body for sleep. I really like Sarah Ballantyne’s sleep guide. Go to Bed is a comprehensive sleep program that provides the tools necessary to prepare the body and mind for high-quality sleep.
7. Meditate Daily
Meditation is important for everyone, but is especially essential for Vatas. The Vata mind is prone to chaotic thoughts and rumination. When practiced regularly, Vatas find meditation to be extremely valuable in calming the mind.
Any type of meditation is beneficial when done regularly. Sitting meditation is a wonderful option and can be performed as a guided or unguided practice. Mantra and mindfulness meditation are two very popular and powerful forms of sitting meditation. For a guided mindfulness practice, many people, myself included, use, love, and recommend the Headspace app. Movement meditation is also beneficial.
8. Get Regular Massages
Daily self-massage is more important for Vata than for Pitta or Kapha. The skin benefits from massage oils, and massage is warming and calming. It also decreases signs of aging, which is especially helpful, as Vatas are prone to premature aging due to thin and dry skin. Self-massage also helps to increase circulation, improve sleep, and increase longevity. Scalp massage, in particular, helps hair grow and helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles on the face.
In addition to self-massage, it is helpful to seek out professional massage as often as possible. Once per week is ideal, and be sure to get a professional massage at least once per month. Be sure to seek out a professional who will be open to using appropriate oils for your constitution. Some will allow you to bring your own oils if you choose to do so. Ideally, find a practitioner who is familiar with Ayurvedic principles and will tailor the massage and oils to your constitution.
9. Drink Warming Teas
Tea is warming to the body, and warming and Vata-balancing herbs enhance tea’s warming properties. Use one of the recipes below to reduce Vata during Vata season.
- 2 cups Water
- 1 inch fresh Ginger Root
Peel and slice fresh ginger. Bring water to a boil, then add sliced ginger to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add honey and lemon as desired.
Soak fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Boil the seeds in water the next day, then strain seeds and add honey as desired.
Warming Chai Tea
- 1 cup Water
- 2 cups Milk or Plant-Based Milk
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Peppermint
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1/4 teaspoon Ginger Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
- 2-4 Tablespoons Brown Rice Syrup, Sucanat, or Honey
Boil water and pour over peppermint in a tea strainer, then steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea strainer with peppermint, then add remaining ingredients (if using honey, leave out and add at the end). Heat on low for 30 minutes.
10. Use Proper Skin Care
Skin conditions common to Vata, such as dry skin and redness, can become even more problematic during Vata season of fall and winter. It is therefore even more important to care properly for Vata skin. Because Vata skin is so prone to dryness, it is important to oil the skin regularly.
Self massage, as described above, is an excellent way to oil the skin of the entire body. It is especially important to oil and massage the face. Use sesame or Ashwagandha Bala oil and massage around the eyes, mouth, between the eyebrows, and along the jawline to rejuvenate the face and protect delicate skin from damage and pollution.
What do you do to balance Vata during Vata season? Please share any questions or ideas in the comments!