The three doshas namely the vata, pitta and kapha are known to be the vital components of a human body.
Among them vata – the biological air holds a prime importance. Vata is the only element that has movement in the body and which controls the movement of pitta and kapha.
The root meaning of the term vata implies – “Tatra vaa gati gandhanayor iti vata” which means all the movements in the body are controlled by vata. Vata helps in the movement including cell division , circulatory functions, movement of metabolic wastes, transmission of liquids and gases, osmotic changes in between cells, perception of smell and other sensory functions.
Vata is composed of air (vayu) and ether(akasha) elements of the panchamahabhoota.
Importance of Vata over other doshas
Vata is the initiator and activator of all happenings. Acharya Sharangadahara substantiates this by saying that Pitta, Kapha, the Dhatus (tissues) and the Malas (excreta, metabolic wastes) or everything in the body is lame and cannot move by themselves unless motivated, provoked, carried, pushed or pulled by Vata. Just like the clouds move from one place to other being carried by the winds, the other elements of the body too move from one place to the other in the body only when carried by Vayu’. Thus all activities are contributed to Vata.
Pittam pangu, kapham pangu, pangavo mala dhaatavaha |
Vaayunaa yatra neeyante tatra gachchanti meghavat || (Ref – Sharangadhara Purva Khanda 5/43)
Qualities of Vata
The vata dosha has the following qualities:
- subtlety and
- motile nature.
Tatra rooksho laghu sheeta khara: sookshmashchalo anila:| (Ref- Ashtanga Hridayam)
Vata also has the quality of daaruna or instability.
All these qualities have to be kept during the vata dosha treatment.
Functions of vata dosha at physical and psychological levels
- The Vata Dosha, when it is normal, sustains the functioning of all the organs of the body.
- Vata initiates all the actions and speech.
- Vata controls and directs mind.
- Co ordinates, stimulates all the sense organs
- Controls all the objects of sense faculties.
- Maintains the compactness and unison of all the body organs.
- It is the root for touch, sound, ears and sensation of touch.
- It maintains body compactness.
- It is the root cause for happiness and enthusiasm
- Controls Agni
- Dries up the other dodhas namely kapha and pitta. Also causes dryness in the tissues and excretory products.
- Evacuates waste products out of the body
- Forms all the body channels – minute and large
- Responsible for growth of the fetus. Vata moulds and shapes embryo
- It is the cause for continuity of life
- Responsible for the inititation of all natural urges.
- Vata regulates activities of mind like initiation of thinking, analyzing, understanding etc.
The vata dosha treatment targets upon correcting the deranged functions of vata.
Types of vata
The basic concept of vata or vayu in the body is one. However it is given five different names based on its site of action and specific function. Wherever the vata resides in the body it does not let go of its basic qualities as mentioned above.
There are 5 types of vaayu in your body, which are responsible for various functions. They are:
1. Prana vayu – It is situated in the head and neck region and is responsible for the normal functioning of the sense organs. It is responsible for expectoration, sneezing, belching, inspiration and swallowing of food.
2. Udana vayu – It is situated in the chest and moves between nose, umbilicus and throat.It is responsible for the initiation of speech, efforts, enthusiasm, strength, colour, complex and memmory.
3. Vyana vayu – Vyana is located in the heart and moves all over the body in a great speed. It causes movements like flexion, extension, opening and closing of the eye lids and all locomotor activites.
4. Samana vayu – It is located near to the digestive fire in the stomach and moves there and causes digestion of food and divides it into two components as useful nutrient portion – ‘sara bhaga’ and Wate products –‘kitta bhaga’
5. Apana Vayu – Apana vayu is located in the lower part of the abdomen. Being there it circulates around the pelvis, bladder and genital region and is responsible for the ejacualtion, menstruation, defecation, urination and expulsion of fetus.
The vata dosha treatment depends upon the site of location and the specific deranged quality of vata. For example if the Apana is affected, then treatment is given for the same using herbs that can directly correct the apana vata.
Signs of deranged vata dosha
Vitiated Vata dosha causes blackish discolouration and dryness of skin, constipation, decreased strength, weight loss, disturbed sleep, dizziness, tremors and different kinds of pain like cutting pain, pricking pain, splitting pain and crushing pain.
Vata, when aggravated, afflicts the body with various types of diseases and effects the strength, skin complexion, happiness and the span of life. It perturbs the mind: affects all the sense organs and sense faculties; destroys, deforms the embryo or delays delivery of the fetus. Vata causes fear, anxiety, bewilderment, humility and delirium. It shortens life span. The following symptoms corresponding to each type of vata helps in vata dosha treatment.
- Prana Vata: Worries, overactive mind, sleep problems, difficulty breathing.
- Udana Vata: Dry coughs, sore throats, earaches, general fatigue.
- Samana Vata: Slow or rapid digestion, gas, intestinal cramps, poor assimilation, weak tissues.
- Vyana Vata: Dry or rough skin, nervousness, shakiness, poor blood flow, stress-related problems, aches and pains.
- Apana Vata: Intestinal cramps, menstrual problems, lower back pain, irregularity, diarrhea, constipation, gas.
Yogavahi- a special nature of vata
Yogavahi is a special quality of vayu. It is a special quality of vata to combine with other doshas without loosing its own properties. For example vata combines with Pitta dosha and carries the heat and other qualities of pitta like penetrating effects, lightness, typical odour and liquidity without loosing the original properties of vata.
when combined with kapha, it carries the coldness, unctousness, heavyness, smoothness , etc along with it but never foregoes its original qualitites.
Yogavaahaha param vaayuhu samyogaad ubhayaartha krut |
Daahakrut tejasaa yuktaha sheetakrut soma samshrayaha || (Ref – Charaka Chikitsa 3/28)
Yogavahi is that which carries the qualities of that thing or substance with which it is associated in the combination. Since Vata carries the qualities of Pitta and Kapha, it is called Yogavahi (said to possess Yogavahi property). Vata creates an impact of the dosha it carries to the target tissue or organ, but doesn’t manifest itself too much.
Vata dosha treatment in Ayurveda:
In general, the following treatments are advised to control increased Vata dosha:
- Internal administration of medicated ghee or oil.
- Externally, regular oil body and head massage
- Sudation or steam bath
- Mild purificatory procedures like vamana, virechana and basti
- Intake of foods dominant in sweet, sour and salt in taste. Read about more diet recommendations for vata dosha here.
- Wearing warm and heavy clothes, preventing from exposure to cold breeze and wind
- Avoid fasting and irregular food habits. Consume freshly cooked foods when it is still warm
Ayurvedic Medicine for Vata Dosha Imbalance
- Ayurveda suggests the use of the following formulations for vata dosha treatment:
- Dhanwantharam tablets
- Vayu gulika
- Gandharvahasthadi kashayam
- Hingvastaka churna
- Shuddh bala thailam – Application of oil is the best method to control vata dosha. Oil application should be done on the head, body, soles of the feet and inside the ears.
- Used in neurological conditions
- Used as a massage oil for body and head
- Used for massage by women in their pregnancy and puerperium (Post delivery period)
- Known to prevent and cure joint, muscular and neurological disorders of vata origin.
Mode of application:
Externally, used for Massage over the body and the scalp. Apply to affected parts of the body 1 to 2 times per day.Heat up or warm gently in your hands and apply liberally as a massageoil. Allow to absorb into your skin for at least half an hour. Wash off ifrequired after use.
These are advised for the proper movement of vata.
- Shaddharana churnam is an effective ayurvedic medicine for vata dosha for curing Vatavarana related conditions where the normal flow of vata is blocked by kapha, pitta or any other dhatus (tissues) or malas(waste products)
- Valerian root is one of the best plants for correcting imbalances of apana vata. It is very effective for clearing sama vata (ama produced by aggravated vata in the colon). It can be taken in very small doses, in higher dose it may aggravate acidity.
- Regular use of 1-2 grams of Triphala powder per day, before bedtime is safe for all body types and will help to target the colon and support healthy elimination of accumulated flatus.
Home Remedies for Vata Dosha Imbalance
You may try the following home remedies also-
- Include garlic, ginger and pepper sufficiently in cooking
- Dry roast some asafoetida, add this to buttermilk and drink once daily.
- 1-2 grams of Haritaki powder mixed with jaggery, can be consumed daily.
- A glass of warm water, daded with dry ginger powder should be taken daily once in the morning.
- Use a pinch of nutmeg powder mixed with honey.
- Consume papaya and pomegranate regularly.
- Drink warm water and avoid cold beverages
- A pinch of asafoetida (heeng) in a glass of warm water normalizes the direction of flow of vata.