Our Modern World: The Top 5 Things that Imbalance Vata

by Kristen Timchak, Ayurvedic herbalist and practitioner

In Ayurveda we work a lot with the three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas are based on different combinations of elements and how they show up in our bodies and in the greater world.


In our modern world, Vata dosha is the most easily thrown out of balance. Vata is a combination of the air (wind) and ether (or space) elements. Any movement in the body or mind is governed by Vata. The qualities associated with Vata are: cold, light, dry, subtle, mobile, rough, and clear. These are qualities that could also be associated with wind. Anything we do that increases these qualities also has the potential of increasing Vata dosha.

Some of the first signs that Vata is out of balance is gas, bloating and constipation as well as feelings of anxiety, ungroundedness and fear. As our world gets faster paced and more technologically advanced there are more and more opportunities for Vata to be thrown out of balance.

Back in the days before industrialization, people ate from the land, traveled by foot or on horse and were living in sync with the cycles of nature. Vata imbalances were not such a problem.

In our world today, we move fast, we use stimulants and eat processed foods, we rush through our days ignoring the natural cycles, and we are constantly bombarded by information and images through our televisions, computers and phones.

Here are five things we do in our modern world that throw Vata out of balance:

1. Overuse of technology – Computers, TVs and smartphones have become a part of our daily lives. These things are useful to us, but have subtle, mobile qualities that can affect our minds and nervous systems when used in excess. It is so easy to spend too much time surfing the internet, watching movies, checking Facebook and Instagram and keeping up with texts and emails.


2. Stimulants – Stimulants like coffee, chocolate, and caffeinated teas also have light, mobile, subtle and often drying qualities. These substances directly affect our nervous systems. In moderation with certain constitutions these substances can be helpful, but in excess can be depleting and aggravating to Vata. Because of the fast paced nature of our world, we often feel that we need these substances to keep up with life's demands.

3. Too much dry or raw food - There are many benefits to raw food, but when Vata is out of balance or it is cold outside, raw food like salad can exacerbate Vata. This can also happen with light, dry food like popcorn and crackers. Popcorn especially aggravates Vata because it is dry, light, rough, and full of air. (That's why I eat my popcorn with lots of coconut oil and ghee to balance out some of the dry light qualities.)


4. Travel – Before cars people travelled by foot or on horse. These forms of travel are relatively slow and steady. In our modern age we travel much more quickly and more frequently. We can easily travel in one day what our ancestors traveled in their entire lives. Airplane travel is one of the most Vata deranging things we can do (it is mobile, dry, light, subtle, cold). We are literally traveling like the wind through the ether element.

5. Rushing, being too busy – In our modern world people are working longer hours and taking less down time. Being exhausted and overworked is a status symbol of being successful and important in our society. Downtime and self care can be looked at as lazy and unproductive. It is so easy to overbook ourselves and schedule all our time and rush from one thing to the next. All of this moving, rushing and stimulation can derange Vata and tax our nervous system.

Can you relate to some of these situations? In this day and time, we all can. The first part of this series — Tips for Calming Nerves — gives some general information about Vata balancing. In part 3 of this series, I’ll share some specific ideas for balancing Vata on the 5 areas mentioned above. They always make me feel more grounded and focused, and I hope the same for you.

Kristen Timchak

Kristen Timchak is an Ayurvedic practitioner and herbalist; she works in the HAALo Herb Shoppe on Mondays. She offers Ayurvedic body treatments to ground the delicate nervous system that gets so taxed in our modern society. Contact Kristen directly to schedule appointments.

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