Staying Grounded, Balancing Vata this Autumn

October 21st, 2013

The season of fall is governed by the Ayurvedic dosha vata.  Vata is the easiest dosha to get thrown out of balance. Vata rules the ethers and is represented by the wind.  You know when you are in a yoga class and you can hear people’s joints’ “popping”? That is excess vata. When out of balance, a person may become irritated, anxious, fearful, depressed, suffer from insomnia, and experience digestion issues, including constipation.

I was recently caught up in the winds of a vata-induced tailspin that took me very far away from my center and threw me out of balance. I have already been “gifted” with the challenges of some very deep-rooted issues with trust, feeling supported, and maintaining a steady connection to faith and joy.  When vata is out of balance in me, it exacerbates these conditions/learning opportunities, and exposes itself as irrationality, anxiety, fear, and anger.  Anger is usually characterized as a pitta “condition”, I am dominantly a “pitta person” and any imbalance I have seems to affect my pitta nature one way or the other.

Being the self -studying yogi that I am, I recognized that something I was doing, eating, the type of pranayama and asana I was practicing, something was not working.  I wish I could say that it was an instant recognition, but it was a good seven days before I had my “Aha” moment.

In my case it boiled down to not meditating.  Meditating became very hard with all of the mental stuff I had going on.  No amount of pranayama seemed to ground me, and help me to connect.  It just got “too hard”.  Yep, it got hard, I stopped for seven days, and my life suffered.  Life really sucks when it seems impossible to find joy and be grateful. To be honest, I know better, I guess this was a lesson worth repeating for me.

We can use our practice along with Ayurveda to create a sense of balance in our lives’ and to be better equipped when the seasons change, the literal seasons of the year, and the figurative seasons of change.

 

For your yoga practice:

©     Slow it down, if you are doing vinyasa, move slowly connecting to an equal ratio breath, or better yet, skip the vinyasa between poses.

©     Practice one pose at a time, not linking poses together.  Warrior A on the right side, Warrior A on the left side, etc.

©     Practice standing poses, Warriors, Triangle, Side Angle Pose, and hold them

©     Practice forward folds, standing and seated, and hold them

©     Yogi squat, or any variation of garland is incredibly grounding

©     Shoulderstand and headstand are both wonderful poses to soothe vata.

©     Bring a devotional quality to your practice.  Bhavana is the attitude of the practice when the practice is rooted in love and gratitude.

 

For your pranaymama practice:

©     Brahmari, or bumble bee breath is incredibly internalizing, and is the tool that got me back to a place where I could sit.

©     1:2 ratio breath, doubling the exhale, or holding a pause after exhalation.

 

For you meditation practice:

©     The mantra So Hum.  So Hum is the sound of the breath, translating to I Am. It is energetically grounding, guiding us out of the mind and into a place of connection.  So Hum is practiced by internally saying the mantra connected to the breath, So on the inhale, Hum on the exhale.

©     The bija sound Lam.  This is the sound associated with the root chakra, muladhara.  When using this tool simply repeat the word Lam over and over internally.  It will help to connect you to the root, therefore grounding excess vata.

 

Other practices for balancing vata:

©     Abhyanga, or self massage with sesame oil

©     Eating root vegetables

©     Eating warm liquids like soups, but also staying away from dry foods, like popcorn.

©     Tryphalla is an adaptogenic, it will balance any dosha that needs it.  It is especially good for vata because it helps to tonify and heal the digestive system, which can get put out of whack when there is a vata imbalance.  It can be found in powder form or pill form and be taken intermittently or everyday for up to six months as a pancha karma.  I take mine in powder form, 1 tsp. placed in the mouth.  Your saliva will break it down, it tastes like dirty dirt, but the after taste is somewhat sweet.  It’s a love to hate kind of thing.

 

Vata represents the wind, the ethers, and movement.  To pacify we want to ground and to connect to the strong earth energy that supports us. Tricky fickle vata likes us to believe that our challenges are bigger than us, and oftentimes manifests as creating issues and making up stories. It’s mental trickery. With the aid of yoga and Ayurveda we can become our own caretakers, prescribing ourselves with the tools and techniques to maintain optimal health and to live life fully, and more joyfully.

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