For symptoms related to excess vata, Ayurveda recommends following a vata-pacifying diet and lifestyle. In particular, avoid cold, windy conditions, too much stress, exercise and travel, and foods that are hard, rough, dry and cold.
General Vata Disorders
One of the best procedures for conditions involving vata aggravation is abhyanga , a daily self-administered oil massage. This treatment is most successful in pacifying vata when it is done early in the morning or late in the afternoon, the times when vayu dominates the environment and vata dominates the physiology. Use sesame oil that has been cured, or heated to about 180 degrees and then allowed to cool to just above body temperature. Curing the oil in this manner makes it easier for the body to assimilate.
You can prepare approximately one pint of oil at a time and use it over the following few days. Use caution in curing oil, since it is flammable. It should never be left unattended. In order to determine if the sesame oil has reached the right temperature for curing, put a drop of water in the oil. If the water sputters on the surface, the oil is properly cured.
Warm a small amount of the cured oil each day to just above body temperature by placing a small plastic bottle of the oil in a sink full of hot water for a few minutes. Massage the oil into your skin using straight, long strokes over the long areas of the body (arms, legs, sides and back) and circular strokes over the joints. Start with the head and upper part of the body and proceed down*wards to the feet.
During abhyanga, a little extra attention should be given to the face, the crown of the head, the ears and the soles of the feet. After massaging oil into the whole body, soak in a warm bath or shower to open the shrotas. It’s beneficial to leave a small amount of oil on to nourish and protect the skin. To facilitate this, use lit*tle or no soap after soaking and simply towel off any excess oil.
Dry Nasal Passages
Prati marshya nasya helps vata conditions involving dryness in the nasal and sinus passages. Put a small amount of ghee or sesame oil (preferably warm) into your nose several times a day, gently massaging the inside of each nostril. This helps protect you from the vata-aggravating influence of dry, windy or cold weather, as well as airborne allergens and pollutants.
Ayurveda recommends matra bastis when you have incomplete elimination or when travel’s vata-aggravating effects make you feel unsettled. To prepare the basti, soak one tablespoon of dash-moola (a standard Ayurvedic mixture consisting of ten herbal roots) overnight (approximately ten to twelve hours) in 400 milli*liters (approximately one-and-three-quarters cups) of pure water. Boil the mixture for ten to fifteen minutes until the volume is reduced to three-quarters of the original volume, or approximate*ly 300 milliliters. Strain the water and add thirty milliliters (two tablespoons) of sesame oil, one half teaspoon uncooked honey and a pinch (approximately one-sixteenth of a teaspoon) of black salt (saindhava or kala namak). Mix or shake the mixture well until the oil and water are well homogenized.
Administer this basti fluid using an enema bag or a large plas*tic syringe with a rubber catheter attached (avail*able at medical supply stores). The basti fluid should be warm but not hot. The best time for the basti is late afternoon or early evening, the vata-dominant times of day. Introduce the basti into the rectum slowly and, if possible, retain it in the body for at least forty-five minutes. These bastis successfully diminish and settle vataand improve colon function.
Diet and lifestyle constitute key factors in the successful man*agement of vata. The following daily practices significantly help with vata pacification.
1. Avoid stress and strain as much as possible.
2. Do abhyanga massage with warm sesame oil, followed by a hot bath or shower, in the early morning or late afternoon.
3. Apply a little ghee or oil to the inside of the nostrils several times daily.
4. Practice asanas or Hatha Yoga postures, especially the locust, cobra and knee-to-chest positions.
5. Practice pranayama, alternate nostril breathing, for several minutes, preferably before meditation.
6. Practice a relaxing form of meditation that brings stillness and silence to the mind and senses.
7. Do not over-exercise.
8. Drink vata tea and eat vata-reducing diet, avoiding dry, porous, hard, rough or leftover foods. Eat naturally sweet,
warm, slightly oily or fatty foods and follow a relaxed and regular daily routine.
In the 20th century, mankind has significantly altered the quality of the basic ingredients to survival, i.e., air, water, earth, and food. As a result, the very existence of the species is now threatened in a significant way. We are part and parcel of nature, at whose core are the five basic elements — space, air, fire, water, earth.’ When we learn to live in alignment with the laws and cycles of nature, nature supports health and well-being. Through this connection with nature and the power of radiant health, we bring joy to others and balance and progress to society. Ayurveda always seeks to remind people that this is their birthright and responsibility.
If we are to survive into the 21st century, we must address the damage we have inflicted upon Mother Nature in polluting our air, water, earth and food. This is our only hope if we expect the quality of our lives to improve. More importantly, will we make the choice to survive as a species?
Health lies within the reach of all of us. Ayurveda wishes everyone to enjoy the happiness, productivity and satisfaction that comes with good health.