The Yoga Ayurveda Connection Part 4
Balance Vata with Asana
The transition to fall is in full swing…it’s tangible. The leaves are changing around us, the days are becoming shorter and we feel a cool change in the air. During the fall and into the winter season, Vata dosha reigns (October - February).
Vata is comprised of the elements air and space… air + space = movement! That’s right, Vata is the essential dosha which governs movement within our physiology (bodily functions), as well as movement of the other two doshas. Why does Vata dosha go on the move in the colder months? Because Vata is associated with change, circulation and movement in the body. When the seasons become colder, our bodies naturally start to feel the difference in circulation and metabolism. As temperatures decrease, so does circulation, and the need for more energy input (food) increases to maintain our normal metabolic rate. Vata on the rise can make us feel tired, “spaced out,” forgetful, lacking focus, or worried. Do you experience difficulty falling asleep because of a racing mind? That’s too much movement! Occasionally constipated? That’s not enough movement! These are examples of Vata swinging out of balance. Additionally, Vata-predominant people are quick to learn but also quick to forget. They may have poor circulation, contributing to cold hands and feet, or thin builds that do not gain weight easily (but they can eat a lot!). Their bones may be smaller and more delicate in nature, and their skin dry due to circulation issues.
When in balance, Vata carries many admirable qualities, including a clear, alert, creative mind, and the ability to learn easily and fall asleep easily at bedtime. Regulated movement comes from Vata: balanced digestion and elimination, good circulation, even body temperature, and a sense of enthusiasm!
Whether we are predominantly Vata or not, we can pay attention to what is happening around us and take the steps necessary to balance movement and stay grounded during the fall and winter months.
Asana for Vata-Balancing
Following the ayurvedic principle of “like increases like,” if we can just “keep calm” the spaciness of Vata can be regulated. To counteract the erratic nature and swings of movement, establish a routine: a supported, grounded, stable routine. Favor yoga asanas and yoga styles that encourage slow, methodical movement. Forget the fast-paced, overly-stimulating asana practices, such as repetitive Sun Salutations, or any postures that place excessive strain on the body! Practiced correctly, yoga asanas are the ideal non-strenuous exercise for Vata to alleviate the accumulation of downward air in the colon (the seat of Vata) and massage the joints and muscles, releasing nervous tension as well. Our bodies and minds will find peace by favoring a gentle asana practice which balances both sides of the body. Just slow it down.
Grounding forward folds calm the ever-moving nature of Vata. They compress and massage the organs of the abdomen, aiding the systems of digestion and elimination. Slow, methodical poses that encourage the downward flow of energy, Apana, are Vata tamers. Embrace the postures of restorative yoga, which calm, ground, and support the body with props as well as provide a vehicle for restoring a wandering, overly-active mind. Inverted, feet-above-the-heart, restorative yoga poses have an added benefit in that they regulate circulation.
And let’s not forget about seated meditation… the ultimate yoga asana!
Meditation helps calm our mind and bring our body back into balance, creating the sense of feeling grounded. Practicing the effortless mental technique, Transcendental Meditation®, twenty minutes twice a day offers a direct means to transcend and experience the underlying field of silence, and this experience restores balance to both mind and body. Visit www.tm.org for more information about this meditation practice.
Go slow and be your highest and best teacher as you listen to your body and practice, or modify, your yoga asanas.
Grounding Forward Folds:
Restorative Style Postures:
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.