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Vata & the Subdoshas

This week we are talking all about Vata! It is Vata season, which means it is mostly cold, dry and mobile (wind) in the weather patterns. It is important to keep this dosha in balance and in its proper seat to avoid production and accumulation of toxins. Vata dosha is a combination of the air and ether elements. This represents action, movement and transportation. The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle and mobile. Vata is in our movements, actions, breathing, speech, detox, heart pumping and sense of touch. It is the kindler of digestive fire, opener of cell walls and channels, and develops and delivers babies. The seat of Vata is in the abdominal cavity bellow the belly button in the large intestine and colon. It is also in the pelvis, thighs, skin, ears, bones, heart, brain, nervous system and lungs.

Each dosha (Vata, Pitta & Kapha) all have 5 subdoshas that exist. Each of these subdoshas represents the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) that tie in to the complexity of each dosha. The 5 subdoshas of Vata are also referred to as the five vayus.

Prāna Vayu: Ether. Downwards & inwards movement. Head to navel.

Location: Brain, lungs, heart, throat, tongue, nose and ears.

Higher cerebral function, inhalation and intake of substance. Energy that drives our life force.

Heightened vitality and sensitivity

Chakra: heart & third eye

Herbs: brahmi, gotu kola, tulsi

Udāna Vayu: Air. Upwards movement- diaphragm to lungs and throat to brain. Location: Mainly in the chest, moves from the navel to the heart, lungs, throat and brain.

Exhalation of carbon dioxide. Growth of body, standing, speech and will.

Growth in consciousness and deep sleep into deep realms.

Chakra: throat

Herbs: licorice, ashwagandha

Samāna Vayu: Fire. Inwards movement- moves linearly from periphery to center.

Location: Stomach, small and large intestine, liver, pancreas and spleen.

Stimulates secretion of digestive juices and liver enzymes. Balancing force that creates hunger.

Digestion on all levels- food/mental/sensory. Creates trunk of body

Love, true self, peace, atman (soul) as fire within, helps one return to core of being

Chakra: solar plexus

Herbs: ajwan, hingvastak, ginger

Apāna Vayu: Earth. Downward and outward movement.

Location: Colon, pelvic cavity, pelvic organs and kidneys.

Responsible for conception and force in childbirth.

Osteoporosis is disorder of apana.

Chakra: sacral & root

Protects from negative astral influences and false teachers. Eliminates negative experiences. Deep groundedness

Herbs: triphala, ghee, haritaki

Vyāna Vayu: Water. Outward circular movement of energy- from center (navel) to periphery and entire body.

Location: Heart, circulation, movement of joints and muscles through neural pathways. Creates limbs.

Keeps clear channels and expands energy field

Chakra: solar plexus & whole body

Herbs: arjuna, sesame oil, black pepper

Each vayu plays in important role in the flow of Vata dosha in the body. Disorders below belly button have to do with apana, at the belly button are samana, and above belly button are prana. There are herbs, pranayama, yoga and meditation that address each of these 5 vayus, working to get the internal winds to go in the right flow and direction. The herbs listed above are for reference; please consult an herbalist or health practitioner before heavy use of any strong herbs. Remember to eat warm nourishing foods and oleate the body. Refer to our past articles for more tips on autumn self care! May we stay in balance in this current time of strong Vata season :)


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