To understand vata dosha is to know it’s personality. The specific traits that describe its character, how it feels and functions. Whether it’s in relation to emotion, action, thought, smell, texture, sound, taste, or sight. Understanding vata dosha’s specific characteristics will begin to reveal how vata dosha manifests within you or the environment. Deepening your awareness through ten keywords called the gunas or qualities. These words will also support you in pinpointing to specific vata traits that need extra attention. To maintain or return to a healthy balance by leveraging their opposing force. Complimentary with today’s commonly used health terms, the gunas, or qualities, cultivate inner wisdom, serving as an informative guide when making daily life choices.
Developed by the Rishis, the Sages, over 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda was created to make healthier living accessible. The gunas are just one component within this vast world of preventative based healthcare. They may sound simple, but considering Ayurveda’s lifespan, time informs us they are effective. There is no limit to their application. The gunas applied to the season, times of day, the bodily tissues, and everything we take in via our five senses. Including our thoughts and emotions. Since the qualities form the doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha), the gunas, like the doshas, exist in all life. At the same time, similarly to how the quantity of each dosha differs each season or individually, the quantity of each guna will also differ. The varying quantities will then play a role in how vata dosha manifests.
For example, seasonally speaking, experiencing vata season, or fall season, on the east coast is different than the west coast. On the eastern side of the United States, fall tends to be colder, with temperatures dropping rapidly after the end of summer. In comparison, on the west coast, fall tends to be drier, and less cold. Through Ayurveda’s lens, the quantity of the gunas, cold and dry, speak to the differences in how fall is experienced. Its the quantity of cold that informs the temperature, which then helps us to choose between a light jacket or woolen coat.
Once we are aware of the characteristics, we can leverage the qualities opposing force to bring balance. The opposing force is where the solution lies when these specific traits form a dosha, or an imbalance because they have become excessive. This counterbalancing approach is a key concept in Ayurveda—like attracts like, and opposites balance. This simple sounding, foundational mantra is intended to support living a life with balance. Similarly, to the type of jacket we opt for on a cold, fall day, the gunas also can be used in dietary choices, how to respond in any given situation or when choosing between hard rock or classical music. To help vata dosha stay in balance within you.
At first glance, the qualities may seem simple. However, applying them in various situations can be challenging. Don’t let this discourage you as this is how the gunas cultivate awareness. Inviting us to think broadly, find corresponding synonyms that tie back to the guna. Over time, as they become integrated into our lives, our self-awareness deepens and the gunas take a new form. Revealing insights through everyday simple words. These ten keywords and the concept of opposites can have a profound effect on day to day living, bringing a sense of agency by having a vocabulary that cultivates information that innately lives within us.
To make it easier for you, we’ve created a list of the ten opposing qualities, with synonyms to prevent a vata dosha (imbalance) from forming. These keywords are formed by the elements of earth and water. So they balance the dry and spacey qualities of vata dosha and can be applied to what eat, hear, listen to, see, touch, communicate, think or feel. Throughout the fall or aka vata season, or if you are a vata predominant person.
EIGHT KEYWORDS TO KEEP VATA BALANCED | THE QUALITIES + SYNONYMS
HOT | WARM, WARMING, WARMER,
Think warm meals and beverages for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy warming spices, and warming foods like nuts, bone broths, and citrus. Speak warm, loving thoughts to soften the heart and reduce fear.
HEAVY | GROUNDING, STABILIZING, NOURISHING, CENTERED,
Prevent this airy dosha from flying away by choosing heavier foods like creamy soups, stews, bone broth, grains, and warming milk tonics. Create a routine to foster stability, set expectations and help keep energy centered.
WET | MOIST, OILY, LIQUID,
Keep the body-mind well lubricated. Moisturizing the skin with a warming sesame oil, which will absorb and nourish the tissues. Try nasya for dry sinuses, headaches or neck stiffness. Hydration combined with nourished tissues can help support mobility, and help calms the nervous system.
SOFT | GENTLE, CUDDLY, KIND,
Be gentle with yourself. Taking time during the day to assess your energy levels. Is your teacup full, spilling over, or is the cup empty? Without any positive or negative judgment, observe how you feel. With your findings speak gently with yourself, offer a positive affirmation before planning the remaining part of the day. Time is abundant, the more time we believe we have, the more time will exist.
SMOOTH | CONSISTENT, ROUTINE, STEADY
Creating consistency. Whether it’s knowing your plans for the day, meals for the week, events for the month or daily rituals, a practice or routine will provide a steady framework. Whether it’s a self-care practice just for you and/or prepping meals for the week, knowing what is coming your way can reduce last-minute rush, one less thing to think about. A task list, a schedule, calming music can support fostering a steady energy through the season.
CLOUDY | THICK, CREAMY, EARTHY, DENSE
Curate menus, meals around ingredients that if blended are dense and naturally creamy. Like root vegetables, grains, wheat, oats, good fats, and nuts or seeds. When mashed, pureed, or boiled have a natural softness and weight. The natural heaviness and soft quality will be nourishing while being gentle. Lean towards plant-based options like parsnips, carrots, beets, and yams. They are fiber and nutrient-rich, and when cooked nourishing and soft.
SLOW | STROLL, SIMMER, LISTEN,
Take time and listen to the leaves rustle in the fall breeze, the sound of dry leaves being crushed with each step, the beat of a flowing creek, or listen to the breath between each spoken sentence. Rather than a run, go on a hike, reducing the intensity behind the energy expelled.
DULL | SLEEP, STAGNANT, REST,
Restoration, replenishment begins with fall into the winter season. With fewer light hours, Mother Nature visually informs us to hibernate earlier, whether curling up with a good book, knitting on the couch listening to slow tunes, or relaxing in a tub of water give your mind-body the opportunity to refuel and build immunity to take you into spring and summer. Scents like nutmeg and vetiver can further support this quality