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AVOID the CAPITALIZED by DOING the following to help balance Vata
Avoid or reduce raw foods, dry climates, alcohol, eat oily foods—cook with oil, add ghee to breads not toasted, add oil to salads, etc; daily oil massage makes the skin softer and helps strengthen yet soften it—sesame is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antineoplastic (colon cancer and melanoma); oil in other orifices is also a good idea for similar reasons; most soaps/determents are drying / harsh to skin—use soaps (not detergents) such as castile soap; essential fatty acids are important for the maintenance of the cell membrane’s liquidity, flexibility
Avoid windy areas/weather, high altitudes; light foods should be reduced (they lack oiliness or protein-like components); substitute heavy bedding / clothing for light bedding / clothing—heavy things help ground vata; alcohol is light and should be avoided; the color green is good for reducing vata (green is nourishing and probably heavy in this context), while black is to be avoided; day sleep may be an important behavioral modification for those struggling with light body weight; at times sleep in the night will be light for this group of people, in which case herbal strategies might include nutmeg, valerian, skullcap, etc.
Avoid situations which promote, provoke, increase or otherwise bring your attention to depression, attachment, worry, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, insecurity, helplessness; avoid cold food, drink & weather / air conditioning, cold dairy, sweets, yogurt (and especially in evening), aged cheeses, cucumbers; to promote and increase digestive function affected by this attribute eat pungent foods and spices such as chillies, black pepper, ginger, cayenne, cumin, ajvain, hing (asafetida), mustard seeds, drink copper water (water stored overnight in pure copper container); favor hot / moist saunas, hot, moist living climates; meditate daily to stimulate mental fire, use mustard oil in cooking or externally for its heating property (when oil is not contraindicated); wear warm clothing, scarves, hats, to prevent chilling in cool, windy weather, etc.; despite the above advice to walk barefoot for grounding avoid walking on cold surfaces
Avoid eating raw foods, which are rough in their nature; rough surfaces irritate vata sensibilities; many cleansers are rough to skin so avoid them by using gloves, etc.; the feature is implied in uneven sleeping surfaces—avoid them; avoid experiencing sentiments that are harsh, cruel, crass, rough
Those sensory, mental, emotional experiences which are strong and create impressions on the person should be avoided; alcohol is subtle and should be minimized/avoided; stimulants generally should be avoided
MOBILE / ERRATIC
Avoid excessive physical or mental activity; avoid physical activity that is stop-and-go in its quality; avoid vigorous physical activity during the vata time 2-6 PM; daily routine should be regular to help control this vata quality; grounding activities help slow down vata—walking on the earth in bare feet or working in the soil (gardening) with bare hands; gazing at the mountains helps ground vata movement; creating bonds with groups and things helps build roots—e.g. owning pets and joining affinity or support groups; swaying, swinging, agitated movements of limbs is a sign of deficient/defective rest, which suggests that one should stop the nervous motion and expand and improve the quantity/quality of rest
Clear quality accompanies light and rough things or foods, especially air, alcohol and such; one should reduce exposure to these; take more oily/heavy food (cloudy foods are opposite to clear—these include milk products); viewing colored materials—colored light, colors in nature, etc. in the green, red, orange, and yellow spectra helps balance this feature of vata (while other colors are strictly speaking opposite to clear these are not balancing to vata); alcohol is clear and should be avoided
Bitter taste in the mouth is indication of high vata; avoid or reduce bitter tasting foods such as mustard, collard greens, etc.; bitterness in emotions produces separation / isolation–situations which provoke it should be avoided; isolation in life also leads to increased bitterness and suggest a balance of social interaction for a healthy/happy life
Avoid or reduce astringent foods as they are drying—these include mainly beans, but also apples, pears, pomegranates, etc.; wind is drying unless especially humid and should be reduced;
This feature of the mind, common to vata, promotes the active / dynamic aspects of life, addictive behavior, self-centered behavior—these features should be avoided as much as possible
**The Big Picture for Vata**
1. Remove the causes of the imbalance by direct behavioral avoidance: give particular attention to the attributes of the imbalance as detailed above. This attention requires daily meditation for awareness.
2. Remove excess vata by elimination therapies — pancha karma (Ayurvedic cleansing-rejuvenation):
3. Balance vata (space and air): Decrease dry, light, cold, rough, hard, subtle, hyperactive, astringent, bitter, dry spicy, and thin qualities.
• Avoid vata’s attributes in food, forms, feelings and emotions, thinking, activities, lifestyle, relationships, and consciousness – this takes daily meditation in order to develop mindfulness, awareness or samadhi.
• Control metabolism and nervous system with dietary, lifestyle, and activity changes to promote moisture, oiliness, heaviness, warmth, softness, substantiality, groundedness, and calmness (relax, don’t worry, be happy)
4. Balance / strengthen digestion: Decrease hyperactivity, dryness and cold (vishama agni – irregular metabolism) and increase moist heat in metabolism.
• Increase sour and salty foods in diet especially when dry, cold, light and hyper qualities are in excess.
• Increase fire component in food, lifestyle via gentle warm cooking spice (not hot dry cayenne)
5. Eliminate mental and body tissue toxicity: Herbal and dietary strategies that help eliminate heavy metals, petrochemicals etc. Also avoid suppression of needs/urges – but balance them with proper 1. Eat less Food, 2. Sleep more, 3. Balanced exercise and less sex: Vata soothing foods at 8 AM, 12 Noon, 6 PM; sleep on left side at 9-10 PM – wake up between 6 and 7 AM; no more than one orgasm each month in order prevent weakening of liver and kidneys in order to build ojas and give energy.
To detoxify and bring warmth, chant 21x Great Compassion Sun Mani Mantra 8 (32): “Shr fwo la ye. Nan. Sa wa he”.
Chant “Namo Shurangama Tu She Fa” to bring deep restful dream-free sleep.
To improve memory, chant the Jeweled Sutra Hasta Mantra 37 (53-56): “Syi two ye. Swo pe he. Mwo he syi two ye. Swo pe he. Nan. Sa wa he” or simply recite “Bwo na ni, Fa la ni” (for wisdom).
To dispel fear and anxiety, and “for all situations where there is fear and unrest, use the Bestowing Fearlessness Sarva Abhaya Hasta Mantra” 7 (72): “Nwo la jin chr pan chye la ye. Nan.”
6. Rejuvenation of tissues with herbals and behavioral programs as indicated: Ashwagandha //Withania somnifera//, Jatamamsi //Nardostachys jatamamsi//. Enjoy the sound of rain, Indian and Western Classical, soft, slow, low pitched, sustained sounds, hence no techno, punk or heavy metal or rajasic (fast hyperactive or loud) music that would disturb vata.
Daily self-massage with Mahanarayan Oil (BanyanBotanicals.com). Wear mostly green, yellow, orange, and red clothing. Surround yourself with these colors. Go daily to sunny green nature to silently walk. Chew candied ginger root or whole fennel seeds hourly. 2x daily meditation for minimum 30 minutes along with pranayama with Super Nasya Oil.
**The Sub-dosha of Vayu**
**Prana Vayu**: Every cell in the human body has awareness. The flow of awareness is intelligence, which is called prana. Prana is synonymous with life. It is the vital life force. It is located in the brain and represents the functional unit of sensory and motor organs, mind, intellect, and consciousness. Though the main site of prana is in the brain, it moves down in the respiratory tract and governs respiration and cardiac activities with the help of vyana-vayu. It gives life to all cells, tissues, and organs by supplying food, water, and oxygen. It supports the function of the heart. Inspiration, swallowing, sneezing, and expectoration are governed by prana-vayu. It is responsible for the rhythmic contractions of the heart and pumping of blood. Prana flows with the blood and enters into individual cells, tissues, and organs to maintain their life functions.
**Udana Vayu**: Udana is located in the diaphragm, chest, lungs, pharynx, throat, and nose. It governs speech and the speech center in the brain along with the memory center. It maintains color, complexion, strength, and the effort of rising up by getting rid of gaseous waste products during exhalation. It stimulates optimum zeal, effort, and past memory.
**Vyana Vayu**: The entire body is the seat of action of vyana-vayu. It is present in the heart and moves throughout the body. It is responsible for the functional activities of the spinal and higher centers-both sensory and motor activities, reflex arcs, motor centers and autonomic centers controlling circulation, sweat, glandular secretions, and capillary permeability. The nerve impulse is transmitted with high speed by vyana, including the quick reflex actions. All voluntary and involuntary body movements are controlled by vyana-vayu. It controls the rate of the heart, sebaceous secretion, and perfusion of tissue fluids through the autonomous nervous system.
**Samana Vayu**: The entire gastro-intestinal tract, especially the stomach and ileocecal valve are the seat of action of samana-vayu. It is associated with the function of the autonomous nervous system which controls the peristaltic movement of the stomach, pyloric valve, small intestines, and the ileocecal valve. It is responsible for the secretion of digestive juice and helps the stomach and intestines to receive the food for digestion. It helps in the mechanism of splitting of the food bolus into smaller parts so that the pachaka-pitta and digestive enzymes can act on the food particles to do molecular digestion. It further helps in the differentiation of food stuff into essential and non-essential products. It aids the absorption and assimilation of food and further carries it to the cecum.
**Apana Vayu**: Apana is present in the pelvis, bladder, uterus, penis, thighs, testes, lower abdominal muscles, pelvic colon, and anal sphincter. It is represented by the lumbosacral autonomous system. It governs ejaculation of semen, expulsion of menstrual discharge, delivery of the fetus, defecation, micturation and standing up. Source: Lad, Vasant., Ayurvedic Handouts, Albuquerque, NM: Ayurvedic Institute,1998