Regardless of your dominant dosha (or doshas), anyone can experience a vata imbalance. If you’ve been feeling unrooted lately and your mind is moving in overdrive, an excess of vata could be to blame.
by Iris Goldsztajn
In Ayurveda, understanding yourself and your unique needs starts with the three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Each dosha corresponds to a different set of properties and your dominant dosha (or doshas) corresponds to your mind-body type at rest — that is if you were never affected by outside factors.
Whatever your dominant dosha(s), you can experience an imbalance in any of the three, which is why it’s important to be aware of each dosha’s properties.
In the same way that you can experience a pitta imbalance whatever your dosha, anyone can also experience a vata imbalance. Here’s how to spot one and what you can do about it.
Signs You May Have a Vata Imbalance
You Feel Too Cold
Some of the main qualities of vata are cold, light, dry and irregular, so if you often feel colder than the other people in the room, an excess of vata may be to blame. You might have poor circulation and experience muscle tightness or discomfort. Your throat might feel itchy or hoarse. Finally, cold hands and feet are also a major sign that your vata is out of whack.
You Feel Restless
Vata is associated with creativity and passion, but it can also cause the mind to go into overdrive in excess. You might have a vata imbalance if you’re feeling extra stressed or anxious these days. Fidgeting, talking fast and moving fast are all manifestations of a vata imbalance as well. This restless activity can lead you to sleep lightly and wake up throughout the night.
Your Skin and Hair Are Drier Than Usual
Vata leads to dryness on the inside and the outside of the body. Your skin and hair can often bear the brunt of this. You might notice that your skin looks and feels dehydrated, perhaps even flaking. Your hair could lose its shine and look dull.
You’re Not Digesting Properly
If you’re not feeling very hungry and you’ve started skipping meals, you guessed it: You might have a vata imbalance. Because vata is irregular, it could also be that you do feel hungry but at random times throughout the day. Maybe you find yourself snacking more as a result. You might lose weight without meaning to, and you might also experience constipation.
What Causes a Vata Imbalance?
Our environment has a massive influence on how we feel, so vata imbalances often occur during “vata season” in Ayurveda — that is, late fall and early winter. The qualities of that time of year align with the qualities of vata: The temperature falls; the air is dry and rough; the wind picks up.
That said, vata imbalances can happen at any time of year. Stress is one of the most important causes of excess vata, so if your schedule is chock-full of engagements, you may not need to look any further. Lastly, anything overstimulating can also cause vata to spike — too much screen time, sleeping too late, downing caffeinated drinks, cardio workouts and cold or dry foods like salad or crackers.
How To Balance Vata
Once you start learning about Ayurveda, you’ll soon begin to understand how it works naturally. To balance vata, a dosha that is governed by cold, dry, light and irregular qualities, all you need to do is balance it with opposite qualities — exposing yourself to environments, activities and foods that are warm, oily, grounding and stable. Stick to a daily routine as much as you can, sleeping before 10 pm and waking up before 6 am if you’re able to, and keeping to regular mealtimes.
Privilege healthy, comforting foods such as soups, stews and hot drinks, and take tinctures like The Root of It All’s STOP for restful sleep. Avoid any strenuous exercise, instead choosing light yoga and stretching. Make time for meditation and other mindful rituals, and try easing any muscle tension with our REWIND Muscle Rub. Keep your body warm with layers and blankets. If you can, whittle down your to-do list so it feels manageable or delegate certain tasks to colleagues or family members. Try listening to soothing music or reading a feel-good book (no thrillers, please!).
Spotting a vata imbalance is easy once you know what to look for — with just a few balancing rituals up your sleeve, you’ll be able to stay warm and grounded at all times. Learn more about ayurvedic wellness on our blog!
Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based writer and editor with six years of experience creating content for various outlets. Her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Stylist and Cosmopolitan, and she won first place in Writing Magazine’s Grand Prize for a short story in 2020.