Essential tips on balancing Vata
From late summer through early winter, Vata qualities (elements: air + space) become predominent in our environment and can lead to imbalances in our bodies and minds. Most often, they occur as dry skin, constipation, or dizziness, mental and emotional disturbances, such as anxiety or fearfulness, trouble sleeping may occur.
Here are some tips on how to balance your Vata
Enjoy foods that are naturally sweet, sour, and salty in taste.
Warm foods, both energetically and in temperature.
- Whole, freshly cooked foods. A limited selection of legumes, including mung dahl, tofu or tempeh that is well-cooked and warm soy milk spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cumin, but not extremely hot spices like cayenne pepper.
- Drink lots of room temperature or warm drinks.
- Stick to a regular routine for eating, sleeping, working etc.
- Nourish your body with a 10-20 min. self-massage with 1/2 cup of warm sesame oil (Abhyanga).
- Keep warm, no matter what the weather!
- And when relaxing, listen to sweet, soothing music, smells, scenes and company!
Vata Balancing Breathing Techniques:
- Ujjayi Breath:
Ujjayi Breath is translates into "victorious breath" and is a breathing technique with sound.
To practice Ujjayi Breath sit down in a comfortable and upright position (straight spine). Relax your hands on your thighs, or cup them in front of your body in Bhairavi mudra (see image below). Look in the direction of the tip of the nose without straining your eyes. The gaze should be soft and relaxed, just like the breathing.
Take a couple of deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and then exhaling through the mouth, letting the jaw drop. To begin with Ujjayi Breathing, inhale & exhale through the nose only and draw the breath over the back of your throat to create an ocean like sound. Anatomically speaking, you are slightly constricting the glottis which creates the sound upon inhalation & exhalation. Try to keep inhalation and exhalation at equal length and with time, try to lengthen the breath.
FYI: this form of breathing is generally practiced during Asana practice but can be done seated, or laying down on your back. For the latter version, lay down on your back, bend the knees and place the heels wider than the hips and with toes slightly rotated inward (pigeon toed).
Feel a subtle inward rotation of the thighs. Then tuck your shoulder blades under to gain space in your chest. Tuck the chin slightly and gaze softly towards your nose. Once you have established a comfortable position, begin to breathe as above.
- Nadi Shodana:
Nadi Shodana literally translates into cleansing of the nadis, which are little energetic channels of the subtle body. Most commonly, Nadi Shodana is referred to as alternate nostril breathing.
This breathing techniques is best practiced seated. Again, find a comfortable and upright seating position.
Place your left hand palm facing up in Jana-Mudra (index & thumb are touching).
Right hand will guide your alternate nostril breathing: so place index & middle finger on your third eye, while thumb and ring/pinkie finger rest on either side of your nostrils.
Take three full deep breaths through the nose.
Then close inhale left (right nostril closed), pause, exhale right (left nostril closed). Then inhale right (close left nostril), pause, exhale left (right nostril closed).
Repeat for 5-15 mins.
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