Vata is one of the three doshas of Ayurveda, segmenting the physical and mental processes of the body into three elements: wind, fire and water
Vata is one of three limbs (doshas) within the practice of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a system of medicine that is thought by some to be the most ancient of all medical practices still in use today. By looking at the unique physical, emotional and mental make-up of a person, Ayurveda divides people into three distinct categories.
At birth every new being is composed of a unique combination of the elements of air, fire, and water, and according to the balance of these elements in the body it is thought that certain strengths and weaknesses in the realm of health will show themselves. It is vital thus for those who practice Ayurveda to first explore and discover which element carries the most weight in their constitution.
Vata represents the element of air within the body. This can be more easily understood as the concept of movement. Fluids, gases, thoughts, emotions and even electricity are in constant motion throughout the body carrying important elements and messages that help the body operate functionally and soundly. Someone who displays a predominantly Vata constitution therefore displays certain traits that are related to this principle of movement.
The Vata Constitution
Vata types tend to be anxious and nervous. They tend to have copious amounts of energy, but also tire easily. As they are as changeable as the air, they are often easily manipulated, but they also tend to be quick, adaptable and creative. Vata types are those who are consistently making lists; their minds are often filled with mental chatter. Though they are quick to catch onto new concepts while learning, they are often quick to forget the information as well. They are light sleepers, who can lean towards insomniacs. Their thoughts and beliefs are changeable; so too are there moods, which can turn on a dime.
The Vata body tends to be either too tall or too short. They often have low body weight with a fluctuating appetite, and have trouble keeping weight on. Their skin is prone to dryness, and tends to be cold with pronounced veins. Hair too, tends to be dry and coarse. Because of their colder constitution there is often an aversion to cool, dry climates, and they are most comfortable in warmer humid climates. They also sweat less than those who are predominantly Pitta or Kapha.
If you are constantly on the go, seeming at times to have boundless energy, but really fatigue quite easily, you could be a Vata. If you constantly seem to have cold hands and feet and struggle to have a good night’s sleep, you may be Vata. If you are slim and tall with knobby joints and pronounced veins and muscles, you may be a Vata. If you are often anxious and nervous with a mind that never seems to silence itself, you could be Vata.
There are many books with self-quizzes for those who are interested in assessing their physical and mental body to see which dosha they most resemble. As Ayurveda has gained popularity in the western world, it has become more regular to see Ayurvedic information, clinics and products on the market.
This article was originally published at Suite101.com on September 16, 2007 as Vata, Ayurveda’s Wind Dosha
Trevor Ellestad is a writer, an herbalist, and an ex-yoga teacher who spends his days creating plant-based magic at Vega. Trevor keeps a tidy home with his partner and their as of yet un-named spider monkey of a kitty cat in Vancouver, BC. At night, Trevor likes to surround himself with plants and obsess over the seemingly simple lives of cats and robots.