We have been enjoying some brilliant spring sunshine in Germany which always seems like such a huge blessing after a long winter-hibernation. One of my favourite things about warmer weather is how much more time you can spend outdoors in nature without turning to ice ;) And birdsong - It is almost like the birds are celebrating the warmth with you :) I go out for walks almost every day and I love sitting on a bench or on a picnic blanket, soaking up the sun and people/dog watching, listening to the birds, just being -sometimes as long as an hour! For me it is meditation and I feel truly grateful to be able to enjoy these simple pleasures in life... again. Because a while back that had changed. A few years ago while picknicking with my sister at one of my favourite lakes I noticed how restless I felt. It felt foreign to me - there were barely any people in sight, we were surrounded by nature where I truly feel at home, I was with my sister who had finally moved to Germany and I was indulging in one of my favourite summer activities with her. But I didn't feel the peace, I couldn't just be and this was new to me. Two years down the line, while styudying Ayurveda, I realised I was having a major Vata-imbalance. One of the three primary life-forces or "doshas" in the body, Vata is made up of the elements air and ether. It's primary attributes are dry, rough, cold, mobile, irregular, light and subtle - just like the wind. It is responsible for all movement in the body including elimination, menstruation & child-birth and is the prime force of the nervous system. It governs our sensory and motor balance, orientation and coordination and the discharge of impulses. When Vata is in balance we are flexible, creative, joyful, social, fast learners and have balanced and regular bodily functions like digestion and circulation. When out of balance, Vata causes digestive disruptions like gas, bloating, constipation, irregular and painful menstruation, joint pain, anxiety, nervousness and....restlessness. So if you have been noticing any of the above symptoms along with the inability to slow down, this is a sign that your Vata is aggravated. Left unchecked for long, Vata can not only cause severe imbalances and diseases like arthritis, anxiety, insomnia and MS, it also eventually pushes the other doshas out of balance giving rise to a myriad of unpleasant symptoms.
The good news is Ayurveda offers some simple methods to bring the doshas back into balance. All healing in Ayurveda is based on two principles:
- Like increases/attracts like
- Opposites bring balance
This means that in the case of Vata which is dry, rough, cold, mobile, irregular, light and subtle we need to apply the exact opposite qualities to bring balance.
Based on this principle here are my top 3 recommendations to bring Vata back into balance and alleviate any feeling of restlessness you might be experiencing.
Daily routine: In order to balance the irregular quality of Vata it is essential to have regularity in your life especially when it comes to sleeping/waking and meal times. Go to bed at the same time every day (latest by 10pm) and wake up at the same time every morning, latest by sunrise. Also follow a regular eating schedule incorporating three main meals at about the same time every day. Eating irregularly not only aggravates Vata, it also weakens Agni - the digestive fire leading to poor digestion and the accumulation of Ama - metabolic toxins in the body, aggravating Vata even further
Warm cooked foods: To balance the cold, rough and dry qualities of Vata, eat warm cooked food for every meal with sufficient amounts of good quality fats like ghee, sesame oil, olive oil, etc. and be sure to incorporate whole grains and sweet vegetables like carrots, zucchini, sweet potato etc. in your meals. These primarily have the sweet taste which is made up of the earth and water elements providing enough grounding and stability to counteract Vata's lightness
Slow down: It might sound ironic that one of my solutions to hyperactivity/being unable to slow down is to slow down. But that is exactly what is needed to calm Vata's restless activity. One of the practices I have found most effective for this is meditating on an object like a tree, a flower, a candle flame, etc. or a loved one for at least 10 minutes. Switch on the timer on your phone and try to focus your attention on the object of your choice while taking slow calming breaths. Start with a couple of minutes if need be and gradually increase the time, repeat as often as needed. Practicing gentle and slow Yoga especially asanas like child's pose, reclining pigeon pose, Janu Sirsasana is another wonderful method to calm an anxious and restless mind, Be sure to hold the postures for at least 5-10 breaths.
These simple changes will have a powerful effect on taking things in the right direction. For more information on balancing the Doshas check out the online courses I offer here.