Vata Dosha

  What is Vata

Vata dosha is the most elusive and ethereal among the doshas. It’s the energy of air and space.
Sound originates from space. Anything hollow produces more sound. Touch originates from the air. We perceive touch upon movement. For example, a hand must move on our skin to perceive the sensation of somebody touching us. Hence, Vata dosha, derived from air and space elements, is the inherent base or ‘moola’ of the senses of hearing and touch.

Qualities of Vata dosha:

These can be appreciated by observing air.


Air or wind is appreciated by movement. Without movement, wind does not exist. Hence, Vata dosha is mobile.


Air is irregular, just as wind gusts come and go at irregular intervals.


Movement leads to dryness, just as clothes hanging on a line dry up faster on a windy day.


Air carries no weight


The wind is inherently cold. It is cooling to stand under a moving fan. Sometimes the air is hot, especially in the summer. But heat is just a temporary quality that the air picks up. Hence, Vata is called ‘Yogavahi,’ meaning it can form a union or combine with any quality to create a new character.


Air is very subtle and can permeate very minute channels. Hence, Vata dosha is subtle or ‘sook shama’

Functions of Vata Dosha

It is ‘tantra-yantra’ dhara, which means it supports the machine that the body is and its functions.
On a gross level, it controls breathing functions, motor activities, and natural urges like urination, defecation, etc.
On a more subtle level, it controls cell division, nutrient transport, etc.
Vata is responsible for controlling the mind and sense organs. It brings about ‘utsaha’ or enthusiasm to initiate various activities.
Just as we blow air to fan a fire, Vata dosha fans our metabolic and gut fires inside the body. This action is known as ‘sameerana’. If this wind is too strong it will put out the fire, if it’s too weak the fire will not be worked up. So, an optimum amount of Vata energy will do the trick.
Movement of vocal cords produces sound. This movement is controlled by Vata dosha, and hence, it is responsible for sound production.

What is the scientific basis of Vata dosha?

Vata is the principle of movement, sensation, touch, etc. It is nothing but the electric signals moving inside our nervous system. While Kapha dosha governs the structure of nerves, Vata is the energy inside. The higher the intensity of these signals, the stronger the Vata dosha will manifest.

Seat of Vata Dosha in the body

– Vagabhatta Chapter 12
Just as wind permeates everywhere, Vata travels all over the body.
The colon and rectum are the Vata headquarters in the body. Interestingly, the colon is also the seat of the gut-brain, where most of the serotonin is produced.
The body is rich in fats and cholesterol. The colon and rectum are the sites where dryness is predominant in the body. Dryness represents Vata. This dryness makes us re-absorb water from waste, and we get a soft, solid stool. Basti, which is the primary treatment of Vata, acts directly on the Vata headquarters.
Other sites of Vata are the pores in the bones, sacral region, ears

Vata dosha in disease:

Vata is laghu (light) and Ruksha (dry). These two qualities are opposite to the qualities of life. They represent degeneration. Laghu or light represents low nutrient value or low earthiness. Hence, all degenerative and deficiency diseases are caused by vata. These include diseases like degenerative arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.
Vata also symbolizes chala quality or movement. Hence, movement disorders like Parkinsons also come under Vata dosha.

How to balance excess Vata

One needs to increase the qualities opposite to Vata to bring down excess Vata.
One must build up qualities like oiliness/softness, stability, warmth, heaviness, etc.
Here are some tips to build the qualities mentioned above:
• Increase the consumption of healthy fats in the diet. Modern science advocates drinking loads of water daily to build up moisture or prevent dryness. However, moisture or hydration delivered by water is very short-lasting. On the other hand, Ayurveda advocates the use of fats like ghee, butter, coconut oil, etc. The hydration or oiliness delivered by the above fats is very long-lasting. One doesn’t need then to load oneself up with liters of water.
• Resting more to build up stability. Exercise should be by Ayurvedic principles.
• Staying protected from cold, not visiting cold, windy places, and increasing the consumption of warm foods.
• Bringing about regularity in eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.
• Avoiding too frequent life changes. This could be changes related to diet, exercise, job, workplace, partners, life goals, etc.


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