In the popular textbook Charaka Samhita, Acharya Charaka has explained in detail about the qualities of Vata dosha, it’s normal functions, causes and features of Vata dosha imbalance and restoring Vata dosha imbalance.  (Ref -Vata Kalakaliya Adhyaya, Sutrasthana 12th Chapter.)

In this article let us discuss in detail about Vata dosha and the Yoga postures for pacifying the aggravated Vata.

SIX PHYSICAL QUALITIES OF VATA
Dry Rooksha
Light Laghu
Coldness Sheeta
Instability Daruna
Roughness and Coarseness Khara
Non-sliminess Vishada

 

Causes of aggravation of Vata and alleviating factors

  • Diet & Activities having the same qualities as mentioned above can increase Vata

For example, consuming food which is dry and stale and which is cold can aggravate Vata.

  • The alleviating factors of Vata include unctuousness or oiliness, heaviness, heat, smoothness, softness and compactness.

For example. Having a cup of warm water can alleviate Vata.

Do you know the functions of normal Vata on the body?

  • When normal, Vata sustains the functioning of all organs of the body
  • Initiates the action of speech
  • Controls & directs the mind
  • Co-ordinates & stimulates all sense organs
  • Controls all the objects of sense faculties
  • Maintains the compactness of bodily organs
  • Root cause for happiness and enthusiasm
  • Controls digestive fire
  • Dries up Pitta & Kapha
  • Evacuates waste products out of the body
  • Forms all body channels

In contrast, when this Vata gets aggravated or vitiated can result in various types of diseases, skin problems and early ageing, affects the mind and happiness, and can shorten the span of life.

 

Can Yoga control and pacify the aggravated Vata?

When determining the kind of yoga practice that is right for you, the most important factor is your vikruti, or imbalance. If your Vata is aggravated the right postures and techniques can easily control and pacify the aggravated Vata.

People of Vata constitution or imbalance are most supported by a yoga practice that is gentle & calming, quieting & slow paced, and yet warming.

The main residence of Vata are lower abdomen, pelvis, and large intestine. The yoga postures which concentrates on these areas and provides strength to the lower body typically pacifies Vata.

First let us look at some postures that generally pacifies Vata.

                                   Yoga Postures  Method of doing
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. The arms may be raised over the head as you reach to the sky, or you may wish to bend the elbows, clasping the opposing arms just above the elbow and letting your forearms rest on or just above the crown of your head. Keeping your back straight, slowly bend forward from the hips as you exhale. Bend as far forward as you comfortably can. Your hands may remain crossed, touch the floor in front of your feet, or, if you are very flexible, be clasped just behind your heels.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) Lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Lift the head, shoulders, and chest off the mat and bend both knees. Reach back and take hold of the ankles. Let your legs draw your chest farther into the air so that your body weight rests on the pelvic region.
Balasana (Child’s Pose) Sit upright with your knees flexed and placed underneath your buttocks. Keeping your arms to your side, bend forward from the hips until your head is resting on the floor in front of you.
Vrksasana (Tree pose) Stand erect. Keep the feet together.

Fold the right leg and placed it at the top of left thighs with the toes of right leg should pointed downwards.

The right leg should perpendicular to the left leg.

Extend your arms above your head.

Inhale and try to make Namaskar mudra with your palms.

Balance the pose if you can because balancing is utmost important in Tree pose.

Try to make your spine straight and feel the stretching from toes to fingers.

With deep exhale bring your arms and leg down.

Repeat the same with left leg. It completes one round.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) With a block between your legs. Stand with your feet parallel and slightly apart. Place the long edges of a block between your upper thighs. Try to move the block backward by internally rotating your thighs. Notice how this action helps you ground the four corners of your feet more solidly into the floor. Hold for one minute.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) From a cross-legged seated position, bring your right leg over the left and place the sole of the right foot on the floor outside the left thigh. As you twist to the right, try to keep your spine vertical, leaning neither forward nor back. Avoid any temptation to use your arm to crank yourself more deeply into the pose. Instead twist more deeply only as your body and breath allow. Hold for one minute, then switch sides.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) Sit on the floor with your buttocks supported on a folded blanket and your legs straight in front of you. Press actively through your heels. Lift the top of the sternum and, keeping the front torso long, lean forward over your legs from the hip joints, not the waist. Lengthen the tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. Stay from one to three minutes.

 

Things to remember while doing Yoga to pacify Vata

  • Chose calming and grounding yoga poses like those listed above.
  • Fast-paced Vinyasas or flow sequences can aggravate Vata.
  • Perform the poses in a slow and deliberate manner.
  • Do a deep relaxation daily. Deep Savasana (corpse pose) for at least 15 to 20 minutes in a day is ideal for a Vata person.
  • Include all forward bends in daily yoga routines since it can alleviate Vata and can prevent constipation suffered by Vata predominant persons.
  • The season of cool dryness increases Vata, as does the windy season. In the vata season, a calming practice supports greater health.
  • For warming up, Vata person can start the practice with Surya Namaskara
  • Standing poses helps you to stabilize and ground, and balancing poses help focus the mind and connect to the earth element.

“Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence. When the mind has settled, we are established in our essential nature, which is unbounded consciousness.” -Patanjali

Photo by Eneko Uruñuela on Unsplash

Article by Arya Krishna