Elemental Yoga: Vata (Air & Ether)
Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Quiet the winds of the storm. Tame your Vata!
Vata dosha is also known physiologically as the “King Dosha” because it is responsible for our heartbeat, brain function, breathing, digestion, and sensory perception, among many other crucial physical processes that sustain life in the body. It literally animates us.
Vata dosha is a combination of air and ether elements. It is associated with motion (especially airplane travel, which causes Jetlag), movement and also the windy days of the Autumn season. When the temperatures drop and the climate becomes cold and dry, it elevates the qualities of Vata. As our external environment changes, so does our internal environment.
The seasons, weather and even the way we move through life can increase Vata. An exacerbated amount of air and ether elements combined in the body can manifest as anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, dry skin, asthma, constipation, hair loss, and poor circulation. When we get swept up in the stormy winds of uncontrollable Vata, we spiral down emotionally, mentally, and physically.
If you are primarily Vata (take my Dosha quiz to find out), you may feel the effects of travel lag, sudden life-altering situations, or seasonal shifts more profoundly. As the Rhythms of life change, so should your Yoga practice. Vata pacifying Yoga entails moving more consciously, slowing down and holding the poses longer. Asanas that engage the lower back and legs help to ground your energy by plugging you energetically into the Earth. Earth energy is solid and stabilising, which calms the wild winds of Vata.
"Earth energy is solid and stabilising, which calms the wild winds of Vata "
When we root down through our feet in poses like Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Vrksasana ( Tree pose) or Malasana
(Garland Pose), we tether ourselves to the dense, immovable qualities of Earth. When performed slowly, these postures cultivate strength and steadiness. These two aspects counterbalance excess air.
Transcendental meditation, Yin and Hatha Yoga are all excellent examples of practices that increase the Earth element. A Vata pacifying Yoga practice implies moving much slower, more consciously, and holding the poses longer. The key is slowing down, savouring each breath and moving in mindfulness.
Pranayama or Yogic breathing techniques like Nadi Shodhana (Alternative nostril breathing) and Ujjayi (Ocean breath) also help to alleviate an overactive mind and rejuvenate the entire Central Nervous System. Give yourself permission to rest and reset! Ending your time on the mat with a long Savasana ( 15 minutes minimum) can help you to release any hidden pent-up tension and induces harmony in the whole body.
Below is a short Yoga sequence you can use to
Pacify Vata in a flash!
Tadasana (Mountain pose with a block)
Stand tall in Mountain pose. Begin Ujjayi breathing.
Place a block between your thighs and squeeze your inner thighs into the block.
Ground down through all four corners of the feet. Tilt the pelvis slightly forward and drop your tailbone. Relax your shoulders away from the ears and keep your face soft. Hold for 10 breaths.
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing Dog)
Step both legs back into Downward Dog. Lift the hips, draw the sit-bones up and back behind you making an inverted"V" shape with your body. Heels sink down in the mat, keeping the legs straight. Thighs internally rotate, engaging quadriceps. Spread your fingers out wide, ground down from forearms into your fingertips. Externally rotate your upper arms, broaden the collarbone as you breathe deeply. Shoulder blades move down the back toward your hips. Lengthen the back of the neck by tucking the chin in slightly into the chest. Gaze at your heart space. Hold for 10 breaths.
Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge)
From Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing Dog), step your right foot forward between your hands so your toes align with your fingertips. Bend your front knee, so your thigh is parallel to the floor, creating a right angle. Stack your knee directly over your ankle. Drop your left knee down to the earth, extending the leg back point your left toes straight behind you.
Drop your tailbone, come unto your fingertips, draw your sternum forward and broaden the collarbones to lift your heart. Square the hips, keeping the right knee over the ankle. Draw your pubic bone toward your navel, posteriorly tilting the pelvis by continuing to descend through the tailbone. Root down with the front heel to lift the lower belly up and back, away from your front thigh, maintaining a right angle in the right leg.
Hold for 10 breaths.
*Transition back into Downward facing dog & repeat on the other side.
Hold for another 10 breaths. Bring the palms to the earth and step back into Downward-facing Dog.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Start in Tadasana (mountain pose). Bend your right knee and place the sole of the right foot high up on the left thigh, above the knee. Keep the left leg straight, ground through the left foot and grow the spine tall. Fix your gaze straight ahead on an immovable drishti (a solid object or vision point) at eye level or higher. Lift your arms overhead on either side of your ears or bring the palms together in Anjali mudra at the heart. Keep the face soft and the breath smooth.
Hold for 10 breaths.
Lower your arms down and gently release the right foot down unto the mat.
*Stand tall in Tadasana for 2 breaths. Repeat on the other side.