Vata Dosha

Overview of Vata

Vata body-mind types will usually be of light build or were ‘skinny’ when you were younger.  If you have put on considerable weight, it is possible that a Kapha role is a factor in your body due to lack of exercise or over-eating.  See more on Vata-Kapha later.

You are quite ‘mobile’ and you move around a lot, especially when talking or standing.  Your mobile characteristics will show up with you talking a lot as you are uncomfortable with silences and your mind is racing for something to say or to express your thoughts, ideas or issues.  You also spend a lot of time checking your mobile phone as you are of a ‘flighty’ nature (a want a need for love and connection and not missing out).

Extreme vata types always seem to have a crisis going on and this can be exhausting not just for you but for those around you.  This is where you might see people step back and drift away, especially if they have their own current challenges to deal with.  Pitta types get annoyed with vatas as they cannot understand how you just cant ‘get on with it and sort it out’.  Kapha types will get annoyed with vata as they get irritated by their incessant movement, hyperactivity and unwillingness to slow down!  
Vata attributes will normally consist of dark hair, smaller build and height and a dark coated tongue; reflecting the blockages in the colon. 

Your difficulty to sit still often manifests in being restless in other areas of your life.  You are tired but keep going (often to please others) and eventually collapse or get ill with mental or physical fatigue.  

Your skin will often be dry and you may have dry hands and frizzy hair.  This dryness manifests internally with constipation. Creativity is dominant with you but your sometimes have so many ideas and flit from one to the other.  Actually, vata types tend to be unpredicable and will change careers, move house and love travel.  They are not the type to want to sit on the beach all day during their holiday but may over-plan activities to do if they get over-excited.

Vata people are generally always late and once or twice they will be very early to try to make up for being late!  Their lateness will often be attributed to the fact that they plan too much before they leave the house or work, can be disorganised and poor-time keepers and then get stressed and anxious.

Vata types love shopping. This ties in with their need for stimulation.  Anything of bling or colour or unusual creative appeal will attract them.  They can go shopping for nothing in particular but spend hours browsing and spending.  They will often buy things they don’t need but it pleased them at the time OR they will have a great idea on how to upcycle something, then buy it and it stays sitting in a corner for that moment when you ‘get time to tackle it’.

80% of Vata predominant types will have the blood type A.  Vata-Kapha mix may be blood type AB- Do you give blood?  What is your blood type?




Goals and Focus

Vata mostly strives for CHANGE, STIMULATION AND VARIETY as their motivation, governed by the light and mobile attributes. Vata’s welcome change and will change jobs easily, seek stimulation from people or things (like shopping) and love a variety in life, work and travel. 

Vata energetics and movement govern 70% of disease in ayurveda. Vata dominant people are generally anxious by nature and people who ‘take forever to get things done’.  Their qualities are usually that they are cold, especially the extremes of hands and feed.  Vata people are usually light build unless they have put on excess weight.  When it comes to work, Vata types have a varied work ethic.  They may work long hours but tend to get distracted easily and unlike their focussed Pitta counterparts, they flit from one thing to another.   They will be the type that have lots of books on the go at once or the messy desk or kitchen as they jump around to the next ‘project’.

Vata people have lots of goals and they keep changing as vata gets simulated by new things. But an imblanced vata type will have diffuculty focusing and will have a short attention span on a task.  This often gets mis-diagnosed as ADHD!  The out of balance vata will also have diffculty remembering things or will only remember for a short period of time.  This is often attributed to the blockages in the colon or intestine and the poor microbiome in the gut can lead to poor memory.  Poor memory can also be because vata is doing so much at once that the brain gets overwhelmed and does not know where to focus it’s energies.

As the elements of Vata contain space and air, Vata types are always moving and can find it hard to sit still. (you might describe someone you know as a ‘bit spacy or scatty’). They can be clumsy and break things with their rushing to get things done and lack of mindfulness. 

Vata types are likely to be suited to jobs that require creativity, gentle movement and flow such as making or designing things, acting or teaching, dancing, writing, art, photography and travel.  They may struggle in high-pressured environments such as stagnant office work or being held down to a computer all day.  They get restless and want to take flight to the next thing that stimulates.

A vata type will be easily distracted (particularly by social media) when going to do something and this can often annoy their pitta or kapha partners. They take an interest in reading and learning but will often have loads of books, courses, projects that they start but do not complete.   A vata house or desk can be untidy as they lose concentration and want to move to the next task.  They are not very organised and have lots of lists of things to do.  Most of the time not everything gets done so Vata will show up as anxiety, overwhelm and too much to do (and the cycle starts all over again).

When out of balance, vata people will pee people off with their scatty approach, hyperactivity and unrealibility due to their constant pattern changes.  They tend to be overly talkative, speak fast and listen less.  However, when in balance, Vata  will also observe and listen more and try to remain calm.  They will explore with a hunger to learn and create some beautiful pieces of work or writing or have fun socialising. 

Eating, Appetite, Bowels and Weight

Vata dominant people have varied appetites.  They tend to be inconsistent with their routines and eating habits.  Due to their nervous dispositions, they are slower to digest food and not always ready for their next meal.  This throws their eating patterns and sugar levels out and causes food cravings. Vata loves sweet foods as this helps them to feel happy (temporarily).  Vata will tend to have mostly constipation, gas and bloating.  This can result in toxic overload and poor nutrient assimilation.

Vata bowels tend to be dry, hard or rabbit droppings.  They are irregular with mostly constipation or rabbit-type droppings. Vata types may not pass stools daily and extreme vata can go up to 2 or 3 days without movement sometimes.  A herb called Trikatu will help with this as well as consuming cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric and some ginger and cinnamon. Vata imbalances arise from this toxic overload, which can be draining of energy for vata. This then results in a sluggish lymphatic system and fatigue.  IBS is a common issue with vata affecting the colon.  A herbal protocol like triphala and supportive foods such a yoghurt or soaked flaxseeds can help to lubricate the ease the vata colon.  Stewed apples, aloe vera and enemas may help with this. Coconut water is also great for hydrating vata.

Weight gain is not usually a big issue for vata.  Vata often looses too much weight when they are out of balance (thyroid issues etc). Vata types generally do not gain lots of weight. They are naturally thin (Ectomorph in Western body-type definition) If they do, it is mostly around their stomach and middle area.  If they work out and use weights, they might gain muscle but not much fat, as they burn fat easily.  Vata can also gain weight by poor diet and eating too much bread, flour, yeast and dairy.  Your Ayurveda practitioner can access this to balance your individual prakruti. 

If Vata is underweight, a plan to build them up will be given by your ayurveda consultant.  This is called Brimhana in Sanskrit and Ayurveda.  

Meal plans and the principles behind it will be explained by your Ayurveda practitioner as part of your Vata meal plan and prescription lifestyle. 

Mental Health and Stress

We all handle stress differently.  Vata dominant people are more anxious than stressed and not very good with keeping routine for fear. They will do things last-minute or just overdo things in a restricted time.  They tend to over-stimulate and try to juggle too much, which can often stem from fear of being bored or not feeling good enough.  They can be hyperactive and agitated which leads to being indecisive.  When Vata gets stressed, it promotes unreliability due to feeling stressed and being tired. 

Vata types are mostly anxious rather than stressed but to them it feels the same. The anxiety can often contribute to the bowel issues mentioned before.  A blocked colon and poor elimination can link to brain fog so you may find that vata types have a short memory span.   Vata would benefit from slowing down, keeping warm and maintaining hydration and regular meal times (they sometimes ‘forget’ to drink water).

Vata would also benefit from exercise but not the over-stimulating type.  A gentle and grounding workout or yoga and yoga asanas is perfect for vata types.  Exercise which is good for vata is walking in nature, gentle jogging or cycling and swimming (if the water is not too cold).  If you have fatigue or ME your practitioner will know the best exercise or movement for you to get the lymphatic system moving again. Gentle stretching or sun salutations are great for this.  Vata can burn out, like Pitta, but for different reasons.  Vata would also reduce by having some routine and self-care rituals, especially in the morning and evenings.  I can help you with this with non-judgmental coaching and NLP techniques.

Vata types can be poor networkers, especially if they experience any form of social anxiety (this plagued me for years of my teenage and adult life!).  They can often feel over-stimulated by people, noise and events.  This is due to excess vata in the nervous system.  Vata types would benefit from ensuring they turn up to an event with a topic of interest to suit their creative brains. This will give them the confidence to be themselves. They also need to take time out to meditate or walk for as little as 20 minutes a day outside 

When it comes to delays at the station or airport, the anxious vata type will be so worried that everything is going wrong and it will have an awful ‘knock-on’ effect and everything else will go wrong because of it.  Vata anxiety often tends to be a worry about something in the future and this is where panic attacks come in.

Vata nerves and anxiety can sometimes come across as being negative.  A positive outlook and non self-judgemental approach would benefit vata as would dealing with past trauma.  Vata is sensitive to critisism and can benefit from being touched – so plenty of hugs given and received.   Vata types often breath in a shallow, short breath or even hold their breath when they are anxious.  This is the Prana-the life energy that controls respiration, oxygenation and circulation.


  1. Vata can become cold and anxious quickly

  2. Vata loves heat and the sun

  3. They dislike winter and are aggravated by the cold, dry conditions externally

  4. They are sensitive to cold wind and need to wrap up well in Autumn and Winter. They will need the heating on and a winter duvet, which can sometimes clash with their pitta partners

  5. Vata types can be sensitive.  This also includes a ‘sensitivity’ to words said to them.  You will often hear someone telling a vata person to “not be so sensitive”.

  6. Imbalanced Vata types use language such as “I can’t” “I must” “I should” or “I know I should”, “I’m not sure” “Maybe/Probably” “I think I might”

Mental Factors that cause Vata to become aggravated are fear, worry, anger, intoxication, grief and anxiety.

Vata energetics tend to be more towards the head, neck and throat, circulatory and nervous system, stomach, colon and pelvis.  Imbalances, therefore can show up as:

  • Always moving: fast walker, fast talker, does many things at once, restless eye movement, does not stay in one place
  • Tired but cannot slow down the mind when the body stops – ruminations are a key with a vata mind
  • Restless sleep and poor quality sleep with many dreams
  • Subtle worrying, fear, insecurity, muscle twitching – some vata types will jump at the sound of the doorbell or phone ringing.
  • More brittle nails or dryer skin or hair
  • Cold hands and feet and poor circulation – hates the cold
  • Chapped lips – you will see vata types often applying lip balm!
  • Inconsistent digestion – this is then labelled IBS
  • Constipation, bloating and gas – this is the air element playing a role; less than one bowel movement a day
  • Dryness in the throat, hiccups, burping
  • Irregular lifestyle including such things as irregular sleep, eating times, bowels (already mentioned) but also irreguar periods, menstrual problems associating with cramping
  • Pain in part of the body and stiff muscles
  • Dry bones or cracking of the joints
  • Chronic Fatigue and ME (this is common with Pitta too but more from burnout)
  • Depression (each doshas will be given a different prototol for managing this)

If the rajastic state manifests further, Vata can then show up as being:

  • Indecisive
  • Unreliable
  • Hyperactive
  • Aggitated
  • Anxious and Stressed
  • Nervous and on-edge
  • Overly talkative or withdrawn due to suicidal thoughts
  • Self harming, biting nails or pulling hair out


Pathologies related to excess Vata

As well as the signs and symptoms outlined previously, some other pathologies which show up when vata is out of balance are:

  • Irregular and painful periods 
  • Miscarriages
  • Pain or cramps in the body and cracking or popping joints
  • Leg or calf pain, tingling and numbness
  • Backache, Lumbosacral pain, Sciatica
  • Constipation, bloating, stomach cramps, general IBS
  • Lack of appetite and nervous digestion
  • Palpitations, breathlessness, panic attacks
  • Tinnitus in the ears or nerve deafness
  • Anxiety and lack of enthusiasm
  • Nervousness and ADHD
  • Dizziness or blackouts
  • Emphysema/Asthma
  • Dry croaky voice/sore throat, receding gums
  • Muttering, stuttering
  • Poor memory/brain fog
  • Weak bladder and incontinence
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Chron’s Disease

plus many of the things you go to your doctor for and they think “its all in your mind”.  Vata is key to balance as it increases the other doshas.  The next time you experience any of these symptoms, ask yourself if excess vata could be the cause.

Causes of Vata Imbalances

  • Stress and worries as previously mentioned
  • Trauma .  This is a sensitive and confidential area for Vatas but it is very important to deal with it in order to start to calm Vata. As Vata governs the nervous system,  trauma leaves the fight-flight-freeze response in childhood and in the symptoms in adulthood such as hypervigilance, anxiety and insomnia.
  • Lack of Identity and Values-this could bring some critics but overlapping with NLP and my own personal experience, an anxious vata type of person can often lack identity about who they are and what they like.  This hides what dosha they REALLY are. Getting to know yourself is the most liberating (and painful) thing a vata type can do.  This will help them see their true value and contribution to the world.
  • Poor eating habits, so eating at the wrong times or skipping meals
  • Light and cold meals. Vata needs grounding, heavier meals (in smaller portions) and less cold foods and juices (or add some ginger and room temperatue water to your juice or smoothie).
  • Sleep issues increase vata so having an evening routine to wind down is key
  • Excess of any sort.  Vata usually does things in “excess”.  They forget to take a break, breath and slow down. This includes exercise, work, chores and sexual activities.
  • Travel-Vata is very affected by travel and public transport.  This includes driving long distances, train journes or planes.  Vata needs to ensure they balance and ground before and after a long trip and watch their foods to avoid constipation and gas during this time. 
  • Winter and Cold – the cold, dry qualities increase vata and joint pain usually increases this time of year
  • Suppressing urges such as going to the toilet, letting out some wind, thirst or going to sleep.  Even suppressing urges such as speaking your mind, your view on things if different can cause issue in the throat chakra.
  • Over eating astringent or pungent foods.  This includes green bananas, or cranberries and whole apples, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, avocado, lettuce, peas, cauliflower, beans and lentils that are hard to digest, raw vegetables, onions, garlic.  Vata will do well to have cooked vegetables over raw.

Vata in Balance

It is very easy to look at the dosha in terms of being out of balance (your vikruti).  However, when you are in balance, you are aligning with your true identity, characteristics and genetic constitution (your prakruti in sanskrit). 

Vata types are great people to be around when they are not constantly anxious or in a crisis. 

  • Their lightness can show in light-hearted nature and good energy AND that is where they balance the serious pitta types
  • They inspire people by the creative mind and innovative ideas
  • Vata stimulation for change and exploration will make them book adventurous breaks and ensure their pitta or kapha partners get a change of scenery
  • They will portray a vitality and happy approach to things and thus make friends with like-minded people
  • They are funny and quick to learn and then remember what they learned
  • They will exercise and tone muscles but still remain slim because they burn fat easily
  • There will be a degree of flexibility and enthusiasm with a positive and loving approach
  • Vata types in balance are also caring and learn to love and accept the joy of hugs, touch and massage therapies
  • They craft, paint, photograph, dance, invent, use colour and imagination to transform things that others cannot even visualise..
Find your Vata and find your contentment in life

Best Ways to Pacify Vata

I use the following techniques with my clients for the best results to pacify excess vata in the body, mind and spirit.  These can be slowly introduced, based on your lifestyle and commitments.

  1. A vata pacifying diet – this is a short-term balancing diet to get you back on track and will be explained and shared on your initial consultation with your ayurveda health consultant.  You will be asked to avoid dry, cold, light and rough foods, some greens and increase soup and rice based foods which are grounding for vata.  You will need to increase certain spices and avoid others until signs of improvement.   You will then move to seasonal eating with a list of foods in season given to you by me.
  2. Self massage (abhyanga) using a lot of hot oil with moderate to gentle pressure and slow movements. Calming the nervous system for vata is important.
  3. Nabhi Abhyanga (massage and treatment of the abdomen).  This helps with constipation, obesity, IBS, fatigue and high toxins (ama) in the body.  You can do this yourself or book in with a trained Ayurveda Practitioner.
  4. Medicated oils to double the benefits of massage.  Oils for vata are Brahmi oil, especially for dry hair and dandruff and insomnia.  Mahanarayan oil can help with vata headaches, physical and emotional symptoms and arthritis.
  5. Warming Herbs/Spices for Vata digestive imbalances such as fresh ginger (not dried), turmeric and cumin.  Also hing (or asafoetida) is a great for gas, bloating and flatulence and is also and anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic.
  6. Limiting consumption of alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and recreational drugs and sipping warm water throughout the day.
  7. Ensuring adequate sleep but aiming to wind down between 6.00pm and 10.00pm.  The herb I use for my clients for sleep is Ashwaghanda.  This is great for inducing sleep, reducing stress and cortisol levels, fertility,  reducing blood sugar and increasing energy.  
  8. Do not eat late at night, especially after around 7/8pm.  Vata will be slow to digest an evening meal. Soup or lassi or a small portion of vegetable stew would be best for vata at night and eating the main meal of the day between 12.30pm and 2.00pm.
  9. Walking outdoors – vata can be calmed very well by spending time in nature and away from high stimulating environments and ‘to-do’ lists.

A note on herbs: Do not use herbs unless specifically prescribed for you and never buy ayurveda herbs on auction sites as you do not know the full source or contents.  There may be reasons you cannot take herbs so please be advised only by your Ayurveda Practitioner after doing a full consultation.

How I can help

My specialist area of work is helping people to reduce their anxiety, fatigue and depression.  This may include Ayurveda advise.

  • I can help those with a vata body-mind type by rebalancing the nervous system and digestive process
  • I can give you more energy and reduce your fatigue by helping your micronutrients to improve mental clarity and energy levels
  • Increase mood swings and vata depressive tendencies
  • Help you with a gentle detox for Vata, which avoids cold foods but gives you tasty, grounding and nourishing foods instead
  • Give you ways to reduce your hypertension
  • If you are underweight, as some Vata types are, then I can help build you up to a healthy body weight
  • Advise you on the balance of fibres and carbohydrates that suit your genetic constitution
  • Assist your vata craving for sweet and sugary food
  • Release childhood trauma or your relationship issues with a parent or sibling
  • I will help you identify and reduce your procrastination and help you structure a more balanced daily routine
  • I can also provide a therapuetic massage that balances vata and the vagus nerve
  • Help you look at mindfulness from a simple and easy level to incorporate on a daily basis
  • I can give you a lifestyle medicine prescription and proven herbs to help you sleep better

A note on hot flushes if you are Vata

Many vata types can relate to most of what is said about Vata but then ask me “But what about the hot flushes”?

The answer to this is simple.  If the hot flushes are related to strong pitta in their nature, they may be Pitta-Vata types.  If the flushes are related to a certain phase of life before or during menopause, then it is usally the wind of vata and the fire of pitta that is causing the disturbance.  So rushing around doing a million things will aggrevate vata which can then cause those pittas types to overheat and have hot flushes. 

This is where an experienced Ayurveda Consultant comes in to help understand what is dominant, look at your lifestyle and eating and then guide you accordingly to reduce the hot flashes and get you through the menopause without the need for HRT.

Example of Celebrities who may be vata types

Cameron Diaz
Cheryl Cole
Courtney Cox
Gwyneth Paltrow
Jim Carey
Kate Middleton
Keira Knightley
Nicole Kidman
Penelope Cruz
Sarah Jessica Parker
Uma Thurman
Victoria Beckham

Can you relate to a lot of what I have described ? Perhaps there are a few variables but sounds like you ?  

Would you like to discuss any ongoing health concern that others have not been able to help you with?

Would you like to address your issues without going on a fad diet ?  Ayurveda provides a fantastic combination of delicious foods

Do you want to open the door to creating more balance and harmony in your life?

Do you want a better relationship with yourself and your food? 

If you want to discuss your Vata imbalances or have a massage tailored to suit and reduce your dosha, then book an appointment with me for your 1st consultation and start to change your life for the better.

Telephone: 07903 215524 – Looe OR

01726 338080– Middleway Complementary Therapies, Par

Christine Southwell
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