Vata dosha relates to the element of air. The nature of Vata includes the following qualities; cold, light, dry, irregular, rough, moving, and unstable. Since it is the natural tendency of person without a lot of Vata in their system to be always on the go; practices that intentionally cause them to slow down can help bring about balance. For this reason, a slow flow yoga class that incorporates standing poses, forward folds and hip openers would greatly benefit those beings with a majority of Vata dosha.
Slow the mind by balancing the breath...
Nadhi sodhana, also known as alternative nostril breathing, is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system of those with an imbalance of Vata.
How to do it: Nadhi sodhana can be done seated or lying down. To start, empty all the air from your lungs. Using the thumb of your dominant hand, block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril only. Be sure to inhale into your belly, not your chest. Once you are full of breath, seal your left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand, keeping your right nostril closed, and hold the breath for a moment. Then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril only. Be sure to exhale all the breath out of the right side and pause before inhaling again through the same side. Seal both nostrils once you’ve inhaled on the right side and exhaled through the left side. A complete cycle of breath includes an inhalation and exhalation through both nostrils. If you’re just starting out, you can do a four-count inhale, holding your breath for four to eight counts, then exhale for four counts. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body responds. You may feel more relaxed and calm in both your mind and body
Standing Poses – Standing poses help to ground Vata energy by developing strength and stability. They bring the quality of rootedness into the body because they are grounding and centering. For example, In Mountain, the most basic of standing poses, when you physically plant your feet firmly into the ground and bring your hands together at your heart center, your energetic body follows and that scattered feeling dissipates. This stability sets a solid foundation to help you withstand whatever life throws at you. Standing in Warrior with all four corners of your feet firmly grounded, lifting through your spine and ribcage and reaching up through the fingertips allows you to feel your inner strength and joy brings all your energy to center and sends it crisscrossing through the main central energetic pathway of the body.
My Favorite Standing Poses:
Mountain Pose - Tasdasana
Warrior 1 –Virabhadrasana 1
Warrior 2 – Virabhadrasana
Triangle – Uhitta Trikosana
Hip Openers help to release any pent up emotions or excess energy of Vata dosha. In my experience, most people physically hold emotions in the hip. Many people also have extremely tight hips. This is no coincidence. Hip openers are best when done slowly, sinking down gradually with each exhale. Then stay there for a while and let those emotions bubble up. Stay present and fully feel whatever you are feeling without judgment. Breathe into the emotions and allow them to release.
My Favorite Hip Openers:
Low Lunge – Anajanaeasana
Lizard – Utthan Pristhasana
Goddess Pose - Malasana
Pigeon Pose - Kapotasana
Forward Bends are calming to the ever active Vata dosha. Forward bends calm the nervous system and promote rest. Forward folds can help alleviate uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, & sensitivity that are common in those with excess Vata. Forward bends also release the muscles of the lower back, an area where many people experience tightness and hold emotions.
My Favorite Forward Bends
Head to Knee Pose - Janu Srisana
Cobblers Pose – Badha Kosana
Seated Forward Fold - Pachimottasana
Boat Pose – Navasana
Mild Inversions are great for relieving low back pain & calming nervousness in the body. When practicing these poses close your eyes to & focus on the breath to help further quiet the mind. Viparita Karani is also a great asana to help with insomnia that is also usually present with a Vata imbalance.
My Favorite Mild Inversions
Supported Bridge Pose – Setu Banha Sarvanasana
Legs up the Wall – Viparita Karani
Finally finish the practice with short snuggly savasana by placing a bolster under your knees & cocooning yourself in a blanket.