A Beginner’s Guide to Vata Dosha
The word Vata is defined by Acharya Sushrutha as ‘Va Gati Gandhanayo’ which means vata denotes Gati which is the movement and Gandha which is the initiation. As per Patanjali Yoga Sutra, it is included under 96 Jeevatma Tatwa. The Vata dosha is the most important among all the three dosha. The maximum number of diseases are caused by independent Vata dosha and those are 80 in number. The other two doshas can cause 40 and 20 diseases in number respectively.
Importance of vata dosha
Vata dosha is the supreme in the body. It has vibhutwaad (pervades throughout the body), and aashukaritwaad (it circulates rapidly in all the macro and micro channels). It is swatantra which means it can independently cause diseases. Anyakopanat is the quality of vata dosha that aggravates the other doshas and is bahu rogatwat meaning causes the maximum number of diseases and hence they are 80 in number when caused independently. Vata dosha is called ‘dosha’ because it can vitiate other components of the body, it is called ‘dhatu’ since it nourishes and sustains the body in its normal state. The other two doshas are regulated by vata dosha, the agni whether it is jatharagni (digestive fire) or dhatawagni (the biochemical energy required in cells and tissues) are modulated by vata dosha.
Gunas – the qualities of Vata
The qualities of vata as explained in Ayurveda by Acharya Vagbhata are ruksha (dry), laghu (light), sheeta (cool), khara (coarse), sukshma (subtle), chala (mobile). Some have added vishada guna (non-slimy), vishtambha, bahu, and shighra qualities are added by some other authors. Daruna is mentioned in place of chala guna by some experts of Ayurveda.
Functions of vata dosha
According to the 12th chapter of Sutrasthana in Charaka Samhitha of Ayurveda following is the physiology of vata explained:
- Tantrayantradharaha: it sustains all the organs in the body by helping the cells and tissue nourish by vata dosha.
- Pravartaka chestanamuchchavachanam: It activates the functioning of all the structures in the human body.
- Niyanta cha praneta cha manasa: Vata is responsible for controlling all the mental activities.
- Sarvendriyanamudyojaka: It helps in the coordination of all the sense organs.
- Sarvendruyarthanamabhivoda: Vata dosha helps the sense organs carry out their respective functions.
- Sarvashariradhatuvyuhakara: The compactness among the tissues is brought by vata dosha.
- Sandhanakara sharirasya: The organization and firmness of the whole body occur due to vata dosha.
- Pravartaka vacha: The speech of an individual is the function of vata dosha.
- Prakriti sparshashabdayo and shrotrasparshanayomulam: The vata dosha is responsible for the auditory and tactile organs with their sensory perceptions of hearing and tactile sensations respectively.
- Harsha Utsaha Yoni: The feeling of courage and joy is due to vata dosha.
- Samirano agne: The digestive functioning can remain in an equilibrium state only when the vata dosha is functioning properly.
- Dosha Samshoshana: The fluid portion in the tissues is dried up by the vata dosha.
- Kshepta Bahirmalanam: The waste products are excreted out with the help of vata dosha.
- Sthulanusrotasam bhetta: The vata dosha can circulate through the macro and micro channels of the body.
- Karta Garbhakritinam: The embryogenesis and further cell division and multiplication that occurs to give a proper shape to the fetus in the womb is the function of vata dosha.
- Ayushoanuvritti: The life span or longevity of a person is due to the proper physiology of vata dosha.
The above-explained functions are supported by the other pioneers of Ayurveda in various treatises.
Composition of Mahabhuta in Vata dosha and effect of Rasas(taste)
Vata dosha is composed of Vayu and Akash Mahabhuta.
The six tastes described in Ayurveda have their effects on specific dosha which either increase or decrease them. The tastes Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter),and Kashaya (astringent) increase vata dosha and Madhura (sweet), Amla (sour), and Lavana (salt) decrease the vata dosha.
Seat of vata dosha
Pakwashaya (the lower alimentary canal) is the predominant region where vata is located. Besides this, Basti (urinary bladder), shroni (pelvic region), sakthini (lower limbs), pada (feet), guda (rectum and anal canal), asthi (bones), shrotra (ears), twacha (skin), and majja (bone marrow.)
Types of vata dosha
There are five types of vata dosha and they are Prana vata, Vyana vata, Udana vata, Samana vata, and Apana vata.
- Prana vata: It is in murdha (head), ura (thorax), kantha (throat), jihwa (tongue), asya (mouth), nasika (nose), and its functions are stheevana (spitting out), shwasa (respiration), udgara (belchings), kshavathu (sneezing), etc.
- Vyana vata: This resides in the whole body of a person. Gati (movement), Prasarana and Akunchana (extension and flexion movements), Utkshepa and Akshepa (upward and downward movements), Unmesha and nimesha (opening and closure of eyelids), etc.
- Udana vata: This type of vata is situated in nabhi (umbilicus), ura (thorax), and kantha (throat). It provides urja (energy), bala (strength), varna (complexion), etc.
- Samana vata: This is situated near the digestive system and helps in the functioning of the digestion process.
- Apana vata: It is in the basti (urinary bladder), medhra (penis), nabhi (umbilicus) vankshana (inguinal region), guda (rectum and anal canal). Excretion of urine and feces, ejaculation of semen, menstruation, delivery of fetus, etc. are its functions in the body.
Factors influencing vata dosha:
- Season: The specific dosha undergoes different modes in different rutu (season). Vata dosha becomes slightly aggravated or accumulated during Greeshma rutu (summer season), aggravation at its peak occurs in Varsha rutu (rainy season) and it comes to normalcy during Sharad rutu (autumn season). Hence, the regimen followed is also depending on this phase of dosha. Now, during Varsha rutu as Vata dosha is aggravated the diet and lifestyle followed is to subside the condition. Food like hot, sweet, sour, salt, green gram, milk, and milk products, easily digestible foods, etc., avoiding daytime sleep and staying awake at night, massages like body massage, head massage, sudation therapy, and enema therapy are advisable.
- Period of the day: During the last part of the afternoon and night, there is increased vata dosha and hence keeping awake late at night can disturb the physiology of vata dosha.
- Digestion process: Vata gets vitiated at the end of the digestion process.
- Habitat: Vata dosha is aggravated in the person living in Jangala pradesha (arid region).
- Age: The old age period is with the aggravated vata dosha.
Symptoms of increased and decreased vata dosha in the body
Vata dosha can cause eighty diseases independently and that is known as Nanatmaja vyadhi. These diseases can occur either when there is an increase or decrease in the vata dosha.
Vata Vriddhi lakshana (symptoms of increased Vata dosha)
- Dry and rough skin
- Hoarseness of voice
- Increased bowel movements
- Numbness all over the body
- Pricking pain in the body
- Desire for hot food etc.
Vata Kshaya lakshana(symptoms of decreased Vata Dosha)
- Decreased activities of the body.
- Due to the decrease in Vata dosha, there is an increase in Kapha dosha and hence the diseases of kapha are seen.
- The functioning of the organs is reduced.
- Excessive daytime sleep
- Lack of happiness and enthusiasm
- Poor digestion
- Altered consciousness.
Diseases caused due to vata dosha:
Treatment for Vata Dosha
The diet for vata dosha should be of the food possessing sweet, sour, and salt taste. Basti (enema therapy) is the prime treatment modality to treat morbid vata dosha. Abhyanga (oleation therapy), swedana (sudation therapy) are also advisable.
Vata dosha is responsible for all the vital functions in the body, the formation of Garbha, regulates the other dosha and dhatu, can circulate through the most minute channels in the body, controls all the mental functions, sensory and motor functions, etc. Five types of vata dosha have different locations and carry out various functions in the body. Eighty number of diseases are caused by vata dosha alone. Varsha rutu is the period during which there is aggravation of vata dosha occurring and hence the regimen should be to pacify the morbidity of vata dosha. Basti is the main therapy to treat the diseases caused by the vata dosha.
- Caraka Samhita
- Sushruta Samhita