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Stop Over Medicating! Easy Steps to Balance the Vata Mind. ~ Jacquelyn Richard

Jaqueline Richard_scene

She’s quick witted, she’s fun, she moves fast, she talks fast, and she gets things done, fast!

Behind closed doors she’s anxious, she’s lonely, she’s sad, she doesn’t feel loved and she’s often depressed.

She’s the Vata Woman. Balancing the Vata mind through a simple Ayurvedic diet, meditation and yoga is not as complicated as you might think. For those who have never heard the word Vata before, it comes from the Ayurvedic concept of “Dosha” or body / mind type. Vata is one of the three doshas (body / mind types) of Vata, Pitta, Kapha.

How do your recognize the Vata in you?

We’ve all got a bit of this Vata in us.

You can recognize the Vata when the mind moves quick, when the thoughts are not your own and when you cannot sit still. When it is difficult to fall asleep at night because the thoughts are simply taking over and they move so fast. You may feel down, you may feel up, you may feel all over the map. There will be days full of love and day’s full of sadness.

This is the Vata mind and it’s running out of control.

All too often rather than take a natural approach to wellness we choose medication to tame this Vata mind. There is a way to balance the Vata mind without the need of prescription drugs. We do this through precise recommendations and a prescription of simple Ayurvedic practices.

The Vata Balancing Diet

1. Drink plenty of water early in the morning.

Digestion is key to health, so get the digestive system moving not with coffee, but with fresh warm water or fresh ginger tea first thing in the morning.

2. Eat a diet of only fresh whole grains, sweet juicy fruits and warm cooked vegetables.

A diet full of what the yogis call prana, and Chinese medicine calls Chi or what we call energy should be the staple food in your diet. How do I know if my food is packed with prana? Think about eating foods that still have that life giving potential. Fresh veggies are alive. Canned or frozen veggies have an absence of life, there is something missing. Spices are healing in nature for Vata.  Use spices in their whole form. If you plant them, they will grow.

Look for life in your diet. 

Avoid raw & under cooked foods. To balance the Vata in you be sure to avoid raw foods, cold foods and dry foods. Avoid raw salads and raw veggies. Avoid cold drinks and cold foods like frozen berries or ice. Avoid dry fruits and nuts. These foods are more difficult to digest, and in a Vata system will hinder nutrient absorption. Juice your veggies, soak your nuts overnight, and lightly cook your food. Make your food easier to digest, so your tummy doesn’t have to do all the work.

Avoid processed foods, refined carbs and sugar, microwaved foods and leftovers. These foods will not promote a calm (sattvic) state of mind. Eat less meat and more veggies.

Eat Lunch as the biggest meal of the day. Breakfast and dinner should be light, warm and cooked foods. If we must eat meat, seafood, or raw (hard to digest) foods do it at lunch time, when the digestive system is at its strongest.

Avoid mixing dairy products with seafood or fruits. Better yet, always consume dairy on its own. Have a glass of warm milk with honey before bed rather than a food snack. When cleansing the body do so with a diet of warm cooked soups, veggies and herbs. Do not fast on water or juice alone.

Five simple steps to balancing the Vata mind:

1. Wake up early, ideally before 6 am and give thanks. Before sunrise, according to Ayurveda, is the Vata time of day, and the perfect time for Vata to wake to create balance.

2.  Give yourself a daily massage with warm sesame oil or other natural oil. Start at the feet and work your way up to the head, your hair too. After your massage, then take your shower or bath. Say bye-bye to all those toxic lotions and creams.  If you do this practice, you will have no longer need pricy lotions or conditioners, I promise!

3. Pranayama (breathing exercises)—developing a practice of breath awareness is excellent for calming Vata, increasing prana and banishing depression. Try simple rhythmic belly breathing, yogic breathing or alternate nostril breathing. Do it daily.

4. Yoga Asana (dynamic poses)—Perhaps you enjoy sun salutations. Practice them slowly with awareness on your breath, a slow grounded practice is excellent. Cobra pose, Camel pose, or any other heart opening posture with your focus on your heart. Think love, think compassion for yourself and others. Pick one or two postures that you enjoy. Do those with a calm steady mind. In the case of a Vata practice, more is not better. Slow and steady is the key.

5. Meditation—Balance the Vata mind with meditation.  Guided meditations and Yoga Nidra are great to balance the Vata mind.  Because the Vata Mind is so active, it can be difficult to sit still, so try a moving meditation, walking meditation, Give your mind something to focus on.  Make it a practice to begin and end your day in quiet meditation.

Ayurveda can be a valuable tool in our yoga practice, and in our life. It may sound simple, and it is. These small steps have the potential to bring about big changes in body, in mind, and in soul.

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Apprentice Editor: Sarvasmarana Ma Nithya / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Jacquelyn Richard

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Jacquelyn Richard

Jacquelyn Richard is the Co-founder and Panchakarma Program Director at Yoga Veda, an International School of Yoga and Ayurveda located on the island of Koh Phangan in South Thailand.  She is a certified Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner through NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association) and teaches Ayurveda, nutrition and Yoga Therapy at the San Diego College of Ayurveda.  She received the title of Yoga Sironami from her teachers Lal Maharajh and Shivakami (Lorrie conglose) of the Vastu School of Yoga, who were schooled under Bharata, a direct disciple of Swami Vishnu Devananda and Swami Sivanada. Jacquelyn is passionate about sharing the many benefits that can be found by blending yoga and healing practices of Ayurveda.  Together with her partner they can be found throughout the year teaching Yoga and Ayurveda to students in South East Asia, Mexico, Cayman Islands, and in the US. Connect with her on Facebook or visit her school website.