VATA is the subtle energy of MOVEMENT

As such it regulates movement of the body, the mind (thoughts), transport of nutrients, fluids, nerve impulses and wastes.
* Elements Air and Ether.
* Qualities Light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, clear, subtle.
* Season Fall to Mid-Winter.
* Seat of vata in the body Colon, pelvic organs, thighs, sacrum, nervous system.
* Time of day 2am-6am, 2pm-6pm.
* Time of life 55 years old +
* Physical profile Lean, loses weight easily, sometimes very tall or very short, long face, brown hair and eyes.
* Psychological profile Creative, flexible, enthusiastic, joyful. Vatas tend to be artistic, with a fertile and vivid imagination though they may find it hard to implement all their ideas for lack of follow through. They learn quickly. Their memory is average.
* Spiritual profile Tends to get scattered in many different paths, benefits from karma yoga (yoga of action) which constructively utilizes their natural inclination toward moving, walking, going places.
* Exercise Moderate amount, moderate intensity. Too much exercise can easily deplete a vata constitution.The goal with exercise is to smooth out the flow of prana and replenish the nervous system. To that end gentle yoga, yin martial arts, NIA, tai chi, dancing, mindful weight lifting, all work well.
* Colors Orange, red, gold, saffron.
* Aromas Lavender, spikenard (jatamansi), frankincense, vetiver, patchouli, clary sage. * Tastes Sweet, sour and salty.
* Diet Favor foods that are warm, dense, rich, soft.
* Aggravated by Too much talking, traveling, computer use, exposure to cold, dry and windy environments, not enough rest, eating dry, bitter and cold foods, lack of routine.
* When out of balance Vata types feel overwhelmed and ungrounded, they multitask, expand too much energy in too many directions, go too long without stopping and end up crashing. Which they need in order to recover!
* Common vata disorders Insomnia, excessive worry, restlessness, anxiety, feeling spacey, constipation, gas, dry skin.
* Recommended massages and body treatments Oil massage with sesame oil, marma therapy, oil basti (enema), shirodhara, steam, reflexology, Swedish massage, craniosacral therapy, Reiki.

Balancing Vata with Ayurveda and Yoga

Keep in mind that HOW you practice is as important if not more than WHAT you do during your practice. The same exact postures can be balancing to all mind-body constitutions if done with the correct inward attitude. Remember also that Ayurveda is all about honoring how we feel in each moment. When you come to practice, identify which energy is either in excess or depleted within your body/mind. Please go to the Ayurveda section of www.swasthyaayurved.com where I describe each constitution in more detail. You may be a vata type but if you woke up feeling sluggish, you might benefit from incorporating some kapha balancing practices in your routine. To understand your Ayurvedic constitution in depth it is best to receive personal guidance from an experienced Ayurvedic yoga teacher for a little while. You'll learn how to recognize your own imbalances and adjust your practice accordingly.

The following recommendations are well-suited for…

1. A vata constitution
2. A vata imbalance
3. Individuals in their vata time of life (55+)
4. The vata season (fall, early winter)
5. Anyone feeling exhausted, scattered and suffering from nervous system imbalances.
* Intention Nourish, nurture, ground, warm, regulate, slow down, be with "what is".
* Vata needs a lot of self-care. It is the dosha that most easily goes out of balance because its nature is to move. This quality of mobility shows up in vata's tendency to practice erratically as they go around trying many different styles of yoga. Sticking to one style, one teacher, one yoga studio for a period of time helps them develop roots and feel more stable.
* Styles used Very slow flow, long restorative holds, moderately active holds. Vatas do well with alignment –based yoga as it helps focus their busy minds inward in a precise way. Styles that are stimulating and physically intense with little relaxation deplete the vata constitution big time. Practicing in a warm environment nicely counters vata's tendency to feel chilly and is comforting. Also beneficial are: Yin styles of yoga, lots of relaxation, supported poses that invite stillness and recuperation.
* Postures Standing poses to ground, forward bends to calm, restorative poses and supported inversions to replenish, poses that stimulate peristalsis.
* Breathing techniques The goal is to increase the amount of life force in the body and even out its circulation. Slow deep breathing, abdominal breathing, alternate nostril breathing.
* Relaxation Lots! Do what it takes to be ultra-comfy, elevate your legs, use an eye pillow, cover up with a blanket.
* Meditation To calm vata's restless mind, relieve fear and anxiety. Meditation teaches vata types how to channel all their mental energy in a positive way. Because vatas already possess a lot of "air" quality in them they do not benefit from trying to space their minds out further. Instead working with affirmations, mantras and visualization has a more grounding effect. They should allow their thoughts to come and go freely, rather than battle with them, and view them as yet another expression of the Infinite Ocean of Consciousness out of which everything arises.
* Chakras Anahata (Heart chakra) connects to the Air element and vata. But because vata's nature is already very "airy" vata types benefit from energizing the Muladhara (Root chakra) which relates to the Earth element. The heavy and stable qualities of that element balance vata's light and mobile qualities. Standing postures and any postures that energize the leg muscles awaken the Root chakra, making vatas literally feel more rooted in their bodies and minds.

The vata -pacifying lifestyle

Yoga On and Off the Mat. Yoga Always. When we organize every aspect of our life in a way that supports our nature and its unique requirements we feel better and it's easier to come to the mat to practice. When we practice regularly we become more calm, intuitive and aware, and naturally gravitates towards things, foods, people which support our highest good. This in turn makes it easier to continue to show up on the mat, go deeper and reap more benefits. And on and on the cycle goes.

A few "musts" to keep the vata energy flowing calmly and smoothly:

* Go to bed by 10:30pm. Nothing imbalances vata more than not enough good sleep.
* Meditate. Even 5 mn a day will make a huge difference in how you feel! Meditation is mental cleansing, and God knows the vata mind, with its myriad of thoughts swirling around at all times, needs lots of it.
* Love your routines. They will love you back. Being REGULAR at anything is the greatest challenge for vata types, yet it is also what benefits them the most.
* Have a bedtime routine, morning routine, meditation routine, exercise routine…
* Practice even breathing. As you even out your breath you directly work on evening out the flow of energy through your nervous system and subtle body. This helps vatas feel more at peace with who they are, where they are.
* Perform an oil massage on yourself as often as you can, especially during the Fall and Winter seasons. Use sesame oil or a special vata-pacifying oil.
* Rest during the day. Take a nap!
* Adjust your diet according to the seasons.