The other day I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone, and while doing that, started to wonder where my phone was. It was like this action of mindlessly looking at my phone was so common it actually felt like it was part of my body. My phone had become some weird cyborg-like extension of my hand. And in the moment that I realized my phone was in my hand, I immediately dropped it. A moment of realization that although I try to be mindful and present, I'm actually just a crazy person who longs for her phone even while she is using it.
And it is more than that. I actually felt anxiety about where my phone was. I wasn't just wondering about it, but was concerned about it. Concerned. "Where is my phone?" is something I say on a daily basis. Even if I don't need it, if it is not I around me I need to know where it is.
Guys, seriously, that's insane. I'm an insane person.
So what does this have to do with Vata dosha you might be wondering? Well, first, let's take a step back.
In the beautifully simple tradition of Ayurveda there are three doshas, or constitutions, by which we determine the basic nature of individuals. From the earth and water elements comes Kapha dosha, represented by Brahma, the creator. It is "that which holds things together," governing lubrication, growth and stability. People of Kapha nature are nurturing, loyal, strong and calm. From the fire element comes Pitta dosha, represented by Vishnu, the sustainer. It is "that which digests or transforms," governing digestion and metabolism in the body. People of Pitta nature are passionate, bold, focused, and competitive. Then there is our dear Vata dosha. Made up of air and ether, it is represented by Shiva, the destroyer. It is "that which moves things" and, therefore, governs movement in the body. People of Vata nature are vibrant, artistic and fun! Sounds great right?
It is great! All of the doshas are great, and all of their varying combinations are great. But, we must be wary of when the doshas go out of balance. Vata is pronounced in Fall and early Winter and so Vata dosha can go out of balance really easily this time of year. As well, we live in a very Vata vitiating society, so that in combination with Fall can mean Vata gets a little crazy. Hopefully not as crazy as the relationship between me and my phone...
So, what does out of balance Vata look like? When Vata is out of balance we will feel dry and have a hard time settling down or staying grounded. Constipation, restless mind, hyperactivity, dry skin, cracked lips, cracked heels, mental confusion, palpitations, back pain, muscle tightness, anxiety, and overwhelm are just some of the many ailments associated with excess Vata dosha. And to make matters worse, a lot of the things that are really common in our culture, like constant stimulation, travel, irregular schedules, computer screens, phone screens, coffee, loud sounds, and excess sugar just make matters worse. There are a lot of distractions in our every day environment making it really easy for Vata to go out of balance, but hey, its nothing a little stability, warmth and moisture can't fix!
This is why I often refer to Ayurveda as being beautifully simple. The air and ether that make up Vata are unstable, cold and dry, so to help find balance we simply need to bring in the opposite qualities. There a lots of simple ways to do this, too.
This time of year it is important for digestion to eat fully cooked vegetables, warm food, and to make sure you are spicing your food right. Fully cooked veggies help with digestion, while raw foods will generally increase any airiness already present. Warm food keeps Vata from becoming too cool and warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, cumin, and nutmeg are great this time of year (obviously, just look at pumpkin pie!).
It's also important to stay grounded and slow down. Sometimes I am shocked at how quickly people move between activities. Not only are we often doing a million things, but we are also rushing to get from activity to activity. I remember learning once, likely in drivers ed, that speeding only saves a person 2 minutes. So we are getting all amped up for nothing, really. It is ok to slow down once in awhile, even if you have a lot to do. I think a lot of the time that frantic energy we bring to our projects actually slows us down, whereas if we take the time to slow down and process, we can approach our activities with more calm and focus. As small as this sounds, even when I have a lot of projects going on at once, I always make sure that I move slowly between them. If I need to take a bathroom break, I walk slowly to the bathroom. When I take the mail out, the same thing. This little moments help to ground me so that I can come back to my projects with more stability and clarity.
And lastly, for this blog post at least, it is crucial to find regularity throughout the day and to not over stimulate the senses. Ayurveda provides us with a daily routine for optimal health, or dinacharya, which is the most important concept for somebody presenting a Vata imbalance. That Vata air wants to move and creating a regular routine ensures that the movement is controlled and fluid, not frantic. And this is where my little story about my phone obsession comes in! This time of year especially, there is enough visual and aural stimulation present. Yes, a lot of us need to use our computers and phones for work, but if there are times of day where we could be engaging in something else, then we should really try to do that - especially if it is close to bed time. The hour before bed should be relaxed and calm, not spent watching tv, or finishing up e-mails, or checking facebook, or obsessing over the location of your phone. Sleep is a time to rejuvenate and we don't sleep as soundly if we are agitated before we go to bed.
After my realization about my addiction to my phone, I've been making a big effort to ease up on my screen time. I have a new self-imposed rule that I'm not allowed to have my phone at meals, nor am I allowed to have screen time before bed. Letting Vata get out of balance can be really unpleasant. Nobody wants to feel overly anxious, or nervous, or dry, scattered. So, enjoy the seasonal food and spices, stay warm, keep calm, and step away from your screens. Your body and mind will appreciate it.
If you want to learn more about Vata dosha and the food, herbs, spices, aromatherapy, and colors that are best for pacifying it AND you live in Portland you should totally come to my workshop! There will be snacks! http://www.courtneymossyoga.com/workshops/
And if you ever want a private yoga lesson that focuses on Ayurveda - contact me! I'd love to discuss the options! http://www.courtneymossyoga.com/private-sessions/
Now, I must step away from the computer, before it becomes a part of me...