Staying Healthy During Vata Season

As we progress through the cool days of fall and winter, many people find themselves bothered by Vata disorders such as anxiety, tension, insomnia, constipation and aching joints. Vata dosha becomes aggravated during cold, dry, windy weather because the nature of Vata itself is dry, cold, light and active. To keep Vata in check, try these recommendations:

  1. Drink plenty of hot water.
  2. Sipping hot water frequently throughout the day will help you accomplish two things: 1) pacify Vata and 2) dissolve ama, the sticky waste-product of improper digestion that can build up in tissues and joints and clog the channels of your body.
  3. Favor hot drinks and meals. Opt for warm, heavy foods. Cold drinks and cold, light foods increase Vata. Be sure to avoid ice-cold beverages and foods. Accept that ice cream season is over.
  4. Try to get more rest than usual. Because Vata is active and restless by nature, one the best ways to balance Vata is to get extra sleep. With the sun rising later and setting earlier in the day, there are fewer hours of daylight. This is a signal from Nature to spend more time resting. Remember, according to Ayurveda we gain a better quality of rest if we fall asleep before 10:00 p.m. and rise before 6:00 a.m. If you need more than eight hours of sleep, try going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in. Sleeping late in the morning can lead to blockages of the shrotas (the channels of the body through which the natural intelligence of the body flows). This can aggravate both Vata and Kapha and can throw off the biological rhythms of your body.
  5. Maintain a regular routine. During Vata season is it important to mainain regular routines of rest and activity. Modern science is now in agreement with this ancient principle of Ayurveda. Research has shown that our bodies are designed to respond to an internal clock that typically follows a 24-hour repeating pattern (circadian rhythm), which tells us when we are ready to sleep and get up. If this internal clock is altered — due to inadequate sleep, poor quality sleep or not sleeping at the right time — it compromises the body’s optimal functioning. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day; try not to vary weekday and weekend sleep/ wake routines too much; avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime, and avoid bright lights from TV or laptop/ mobile phone screens which stimulate the brain to remain active.
  6. Maintain regular meal times. Avoid fasting during Vata season.Vata requires regular nourishment. While Ayurveda encourages smaller meals in the evening, be sure to have something warm and nourishing like soup, light grains (such as quinoa) and/or steamed vegetables.
  7. Exercise daily. Exercise increases circulation, improves your appetite and raises your body temperature. If it is too cold to go outside, go to the gym, use indoor equipment or exercise DVDs—or just dance around your house. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You should adjust the amount and intensity of exercise to fit your individual needs. If your level of exercise is such that you cannot breath comfortably through your nose, you are taxing your physiology and actually increasing Vata.
  8. Cover your head and ears when outside. Ears are one of the main seats of Vata. Protecting your ears and head from the wind and cold will make being outside in winter a more healthful experience
  9. Enjoy daily abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage). Abhyanga is especially soothing for Vata dosha because your skin is a primary seat of Vata.
  10. Increase foods that pacify Vata. This means foods with sweet, sour and salty tastes. Decrease food that are spicy, astringent and bitter, as those tastes increase Vata.
  11. Enjoy Panchakarma (Ayurvedic massage and purification therapies). Fall/winter is a good time to schedule a week of treatment at The Raj. While the cold wind blows outside, you can stay warm and cozy, enjoying soothing, warm herbalized oil and relaxing massages. In addition, undergoing Panchakarma before the holiday seasons can put in you the right frame of mind to enjoy the holidays without binge eating or straying from a healthful diet and routine.