By Lily Kardon
In Ayurveda, vata refers to an imbalance of wind and ether-like qualities. Mentally and emotionally, this can refer to indecisive or nervous thoughts that lead to anxiety. Physically, vata-type imbalance presents as dry skin and hair, cold extremities and poor circulation, weight loss, and diminished appetite.
During autumn and winter—when it’s cold, dry and windy outside—this imbalance can be triggered. This time of year, people of all constitutions may experience vata symptoms such as trouble focusing or itchy, flaky skin. Abhyanga, or warming self massage with oil, is excellent for this seasonal imbalance, as are sweet warming beverages and slow cooked spiced stews.
Life events can also trigger vata qualities. Experiences of loss often evoke vata themes. Times of movement and stimulation like deadlines, travel, or a big move can all increase vata. Here again, abhyanga is indicated as is aromatherapy, using your diffuser or direct palm inhalation to ground and center yourself.
Balancing vata is about soothing and restoring calm. Botanicals can be extremely effective for calming a sympathetic nervous system arousal, commonly referred to as “fight or flight.” You can use essential oils and aromatherapy to address the mental and emotional aspects of vata imbalance, and massage with a warming carrier oil, to temper the physical symptoms.
For aromatherapy, it is best to consider essential oils that are warming and calming such as Lavender, Vetiver, Cedar, Sandalwood, Patchouli, and Frankincense, which all soothe and ground. Black Pepper, Ginger, and Cinnamon are spicy and warming. Vata Blend, Dream, Little Angels, Relax, and Spirit all contain essential oil combinations that help to calm vata.
Vata Blend is a unique combination of essential oils designed to soothe overstimulated vata. Enlightening Palo Santo, grounding Vetiver, and centering Clary Sage meld to soothe the most agitated states and alleviate nervousness. The oils are both uplifting and grounding, centering and pacifying. Vata Blend is excellent on its own in your diffuser, for direct palm inhalation, added to body oil or applied neat. It is also available as a roll-on.
Use the below practices to nourish and replenish your inner fire.
Nourishing Shiro Abhyanga Scalp Massage
For Rest and Rejuvenation
8 drops Vetiver Essential Oil
8 drops Clary Sage Essential Oil
8 drops Lavender Essential Oil
15 ml Tamanu Oil
1) Work dime-sized dollops of this essential oil infusion into your scalp in a circular motion. With eyes closed, imagine rubbing calm into your scalp as you let tension and anxiety release.
2) Let it soak for at least an hour or up to overnight—be sure to cover your pillow with a towel—before shampooing as normal.
Abhyanga with Champa Infused Almond Oil
Warm Oil Self Massage
1) Place oil in a container such as an 8 oz mason jar. Place the container in a hot water bath to warm.
2) Beginning with your scalp, massage oil into your head and shoulders. Then, work long strokes from fingertips to the chest, all down your torso, then from your toes up to the legs. Pay special attention to joints, hands, and feet with a circular motion.
Try this before your bath for a traditional approach, or as a moisturizing treatment after bathing.
Vata Pacifying Diffuser Blend
For Calming, Grounding and Warming
6 drops Lavender Essential Oil
4 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
4 drops Vetiver Essential Oil
2 drops Ginger Essential Oil
2 drops Black Pepper Essential Oil
10-15 drops Vata Essential Oil Blend
Vata Blend Bath Ritual
1) Add 10 drops Vata Essential Oil Blend to your diffuser and power on.
2) Combine 5 drops Vata Essential Oil Blend with mineral salts, colloidal oatmeal, or honey and add to a warm bath.
3) Add a dropperful of Strength Flower Essence.
4) Settle in to soak. Touch the thumb and ring finger of either hand and close your eyes to breathe deep and slow as you imagine sending roots down into the earth.
Warm and Spicy Nut Lassi
¼ c Raw Pumpkin Seeds
¼ c Raw Sunflower Seeds
¼ c Raw Almonds
2 Dates, No Pit
2 Dried Apricots, Unsulfured
1 Tsp Fresh Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ginger Powder
A few drops of Lavender Flower Essence Tincture
1) Soak nuts, seeds, and dried fruit in spring water overnight. Drain soaking water. Combine all ingredients in a blender with 2 cups hot spring water and blend. Add more hot water in small amounts until desired consistency is reached.
2) Pour a glass and refrigerate excess in a mason jar to gently heat later for a warm drink throughout the day.
3) Enjoy warm, topped with a teaspoon of hazelnut or sesame oil.
4) Add a few drops Lavender Flower Essence Tincture to fortify roots and promote a sense of groundedness.