According to Ayurveda healing, there are three life energies: the “vata,” “pitta,” and “kapha” doshas. Vata dosha reportedly consists of air and space and has links to change, mobility, and movement.

Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest healing systems. It originated in India and encourages a holistic healing approach using a combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.

According to Ayurveda, the world comprises five elements: space, water, earth, fire, and air. These elements combine to form three life energies — vata, pitta, and kapha — which define each person’s constitution. Each person is a unique combination of the three doshas, but they usually have one or two dominant doshas.

Balance among all three doshas creates equilibrium and good health. Ayurvedic medicine recommends certain dietary and lifestyle habits for vata-dominant people that aim to balance their three doshas.

Read more to learn about the characteristics, diet, and lifestyle habits of the vata dosha.

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Vata combines air and space, also called ether. It has links to change, mobility, and movement.

According to Ayurveda medicine, it relates to the nervous system and controls breathing, blinking, and circulation. Proponents of the medicine system also say vata is also irregular, rough, flowing, spacious, cold, light, and dry.

People who believe in this healing say those who are vata-dominant are energetic, creative, and flexible. They may also have insufficient or moderate weight, dry skin, and fine hair.

The pitta dosha is a bodily energy that reportedly comprises mostly fire with some water. People believe it helps regulate digestion and may have links to immunity, metabolism, and body temperature.

Pitta may also have associations with activity, transformation, and change. It is said to be hot, oily, light, intense, and sharp.

The kapha dosha is a bodily energy that reportedly contains water and earth. It provides stability to the body, moisturizes skin, and heals wounds. It also has links to cohesion, structure, and lubrication.

Kapha is reportedly wet, heavy, solid, slow, sticky, cool, dense, and oily.

According to Ayurveda, it is important for a person to balance the doshas. This will maximize the positive benefits of each dosha and mitigate negative effects.

Vata people often have a small or thin frame and dry skin and hair. They are sensitive to cold weather and may have cold extremities, circulation issues, and joint pain.

Their personalities can be entertaining, dynamic, and enthusiastic. They are also said to be creative, perceptive, and sensitive people.

Physically and mentally active, they often multi-task and talk quickly.

Vata people may be easily overwhelmed and be prone to changeable moods. When vata people become aggravated, their emotions may manifest as fear, anxiety, and nervousness.

In Ayurvedic medicine, healthy digestion is the foundation of good health. It recommends eating foods that balance the dominant dosha.

Vata individuals should eat foods that increase kapha qualities, such as heaviness, stillness, and smoothness. This is said to balance the coldness and lightness of vata.

Some vata individuals have shifting, sensitive digestive patterns and variable appetites. They tend to skip meals or forget to eat, which can lead to unintentional weight loss. They may also experience gas, bloating, and constipation.

According to Ayurveda, they should choose warm, moist, and heavy foods that are easily digestible. They should avoid cold and raw foods as well as stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine.

Sweet, salty, and sour foods balance vata people, while pungent, bitter, and astringent foods may be aggravating to them.

A vata dosha diet may include:

  • Beverages: Buttermilk, warm teas, nut milk, and warm or room temperature water
  • Meat and eggs: Beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs
  • Grains: Rice, oats, quinoa, and wheat
  • Fruits: Berries, peaches, mangoes, melons, bananas, avocados, coconuts, and cooked apples
  • Vegetables: Carrots, beets, squash, lentils, mung beans, sweet potatoes, and green, leafy vegetables
  • Spices: Ginger, basil, bay, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, parsley, and turmeric
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, chestnuts, cashews, pistachios, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Oils: Ghee, avocado oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, and extra virgin olive oil

According to Ayurveda, several lifestyle habits can balance a vata person.

Since vata relates to movement and stimulation, many of these practices are calming, soothing, and relaxing. For example, they can also take a relaxing bath or diffuse essential oils.

Activities to relieve stress and bring attention inward include meditation, yoga nidra, and restorative yoga poses. People can also try calming breathing exercises that include Nadi Shodhana, Ujjayi, and Bhramari.

While Ayurveda is a long-standing tradition, there is a lack of large, in-depth studies supporting its benefits. However, some smaller studies back certain Ayurvedic concepts and practices.

According to a 2015 study, a person’s dosha can affect sleep quantity and quality. People with a vata constitution took more time to fall asleep and felt less rested in the morning. They also had more disrupted sleep, which can reduce sleep quality due to fewer periods of deep or slow-wave sleep.

A 2019 review suggests Ayurveda may be beneficial in treating type 2 diabetes. It found that herbs, such as bitter melon, fenugreek, and holy basil, may boost immunity and lower blood sugar levels.

People can take herbs in supplements form or use them for hot oil and powder massages.

Ayurvedic medicine says that balancing the doshas — forms of life energy — is integral to maintaining mental, spiritual, and physical health.

Highly energetic, vata individuals often have dynamic, lively personalities but may feel easily overwhelmed. To balance a vata constitution, people can eat nourishing foods and focus on slowing down and relaxing.