As I sit here, sipping coffee and listening to yet another windy day here in Vegas, I find myself searching for information on how the wind aggravates Vata Dosha, or one of the bodily constitutions that make us up, according to Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga. I know it does, but I search anyway.
Ayurveda has been at the forefront of my mind lately, as I am clearing toxic people and toxic behaviors out of my life. The wind that seems to constantly blow lately is helping me stay acutely aware of how our actions, who we interact with, our habits, the weather, the seasons, etc. profoundly affect us.
So why am I blogging about this when the Pelvic Floor is my thing? Because knowing our dosha (bodily constitution/make-up), honoring it and applying self-care techniques around it, can support us through tough times, illness, and chronic pain. And the anxiety that surrounds pelvic floor issues can be helped with some Vata pacifying practices.
What Are Doshas?
As humans that are born, live and die of this earth and exist in this universe, we are made up of the 5 elements: Ether, Air, Water, Fire and Earth. The combination of these makes up each Dosha.
- Vata dosha is space and air and includes such characteristics as space, air, dry, mobile, creative, high energy, light frame, thin.
- Pitta Dosha is fire and water: hot, sharp, intense, pungent, driven, competitive, type A personality, medium build.
- Kapha is water and earth: grounded, calm, heavy, oily, moderate appetite, deep sleep, large frame.
We generally are made up of two of the three. I am Pitta first, followed closely (now that I am post-menopausal) by Vata. Think of drying out as we age. I know. I know. Not fun.
These doshas can be balanced with everything working in harmony, or they can be out of balance with different signs pointing to such.
How Do We Know if We are Out of Balance?
When Vata is out of balance, we may experience anxiety, feel or act erratic, be easily overwhelmed and unable to concentrate.
For me right now, I know my Vata is high. Higher that I want because just the wind blowing has my anxiety up, up, up. Sunday it was so bad I couldn’t focus on a single thing.
Our doshas being in or out of balance are affected by our daily habits, the weather, the seasons, etc.
Habits. Ugh. Notice above I said “sipping coffee.” Caffeine aggravates anxiety. Yet here I sit even though I know better.
How Do We Pacify Vata?
Yes, I’m drinking coffee, but in my defense, yesterday I made a pot of soup (warm, moist, cooked foods including root vegetables that are grounding) I have been eating oatmeal (warm, moist, sweet) and tonight before my shower I will practice Abhyanga oil massage (self-care, oily, moist, nourishing.) My meditation this morning included Bhu Mudra, which is an extremely grounding gesture to practice, and I have backed the caffeine way down.
Things that pacify Vata are mentioned in the paragraph above: laying off caffeine, warm, moist foods (avoid raw food), cooked root vegetables, practicing self-care techniques such as meditation (see below) and self-oil massage (oil helps dryness and is grounding.) Having a daily routine that you stick to is very grounding and helpful as well.
How Can I Learn More?
If any of this interests you, I encourage you to dive in! One of my favorite sites is Banyon Botanicals where you can take a dosha quiz to find out what you are made of and all kinds of information on ayurveda and how to apply it to your life. Chopra center has good stuff, too. Just be sure as you investigate that you are on a knowledgeable site.
Here are a couple of my self-care go to’s to pacify Vata:
Warm, Moist, Sweet, Nourishing. High in fiber (helps with digestion and constipation which is a common symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction) The flax seed contains phytoestrogens which are good for perimenopause and post menopause. Walnuts are a superfood. An apple a day keeps the doctor away…
- Steel cut oats
- Maple syrup
- Dash cinnamon to taste
- 2 tbs ground flax seed
- 2 tbs walnuts
- I peeled, diced apple
Follow the direction for the oats. When the oats are done, remove from heat. Toss in the apples, cover and let them cook a little from the heat of the oats. Once the apples soften up, add the other ingredients and enjoy!
Bhu Mudra Meditation
Bhu Mudra is an effective gesture for activating the earth element, which is grounding. It creates a sense of stability in both mind and body. It cultivates embodiment which supports the treatment of anxiety.
To practice, come to the floor. You may sit on blankets or a bolster. * Extend your “peace fingers” while placing the thumb on the nail beds of your ring and pinky fingers. Touch the earth with your peace fingers, keeping arms out to create a triangular mountain shape with your body. Relax shoulders, sit and breathe.
Spend several minutes feeling and following the movement of your breath. If your attention wanes, gently bring it back to the movement of your breath.
*If sitting on the ground isn’t possible, this does work in a chair or on a bench. Just touch fingers to what you can.