Do you have dry hair and dry skin? Are your bowel movements sluggish with a feeling of incompleteness? Do you have scanty periods? Is your hair generally rough and dry? You could be experienced dryness due to vata dosha aggravation. Read on for Ayurveda can help tackle both rough and dry hair and the underlying vata aggravation behind this.
We recently received a consultation request from a 36 year old lady, who was experiencing very high hair fall and hair dryness. From our investigation, we found 3 signs of high vata aggravation:
- She found it difficult to fall asleep despite being very tired. In her email she said: “I toss and turn at night for nearly an hour before I fall asleep”.
- She described her bowel movements as being sluggish and incomplete. The bowel movements felt hard , compacted and were difficult to pass out
- She described her periods as being scanty and variable in their nature – so menstruation cycles varied from 29 days to 36 days every month
Nature of vata dosha and its role in the body
Vata is the most powerful dosha in our body – it governs the action of the other 2 doshas in our body as neither have mobility without vata. The 3 doshas in our body are made up of the pancha bhootas or the 5 basic elements – and vata is made up of air (vayu) + space(akash). This gives Vata dosha the quality of movement, lightness, swiftness and speed.
All of are made up of a mixture of the 3 doshas. Naturally, for each of us, one or two doshas show pre-dominance making up our general character and determining our attitudes, behavior in situations and the kind of illnesses we are prone to, etc.
Apart from our basic dosha nature, the doshas in our body can increase or decrease depending upon what we eat, how we behave and how the environment around us changes.
Why does Vata dosha get aggravated easily in city people?
Acharya Charaka says that 50% of diseases occur due to aggravation of vata dosha. Vata aggravation is extremely high in cities. By their very nature and by the nature of our demanding jobs, there is a natural increase in vata in urban dwellers.
This is because we tend to travel long distances so we expose ourselves to high mobility and wind (both of which are components of vata), work late (again a characteristic of vata dosha), eat food which is high in vata (potatoes, bread and other baked goods, urad, cauliflower, cabbage, fried food), drink stimulating drinks like tea and coffee (which remove moisture and therefore increase vata).
Where does Vata aggravation show up in our body?
Vata governs all mobility and downward movements in the body. So if your back feels stiff, your knees crack or pop, or if your wrists tingle or hurt from excessively using your smartphone, then Vata has been over used and is hence aggravated.
Vata governs all downward movement. So for correct and regular bowel movement where the stools are not excessively dry or hard, and where the bowels are completely emptied in ONE shot, Vata needs to be at the optimal level.
So, if you have dry stools, a feeling of incomplete bowel movements, and the system does not do “its job” correctly, on time every day without external stimulants like coffee, then Vata is aggravated.
Similarly if you have scanty periods where timing is uncertain and there is a lot of variability in the cycle, your body is aggravated with too much Vata dosha.
Vata aggravation also shows up in the state of our hair, nails, skin and feet. Excessively cracked heels which do not respond to any form of moisturisation can be attributed to aggravated Vata dosha. Similarly chronically dry skin and hair can also be a result of vata aggravation. People who lose weight very quickly or find it very difficult to gain weight may also be naturally high in vata dosha.
Vata aggravated people find it difficult to get high quality , restful sleep. They either find it difficult to fall asleep, or do not stay in deep sleep for long – so they wake up feeling fatigued, run down and low on energy. This makes them choose stimulants like tea and coffee which are again high in Vata dosha, starting a vicious cycle.
What can aggravate Vata even if our prakriti is not high in Vata dosha?
Not everyone’s constitution is basically high in Vata dosha. Yet, we CONSTANTLY see symptoms of aggravated Vata at Krya. This is because all of us are doing certain things which are calculated to drive up Vata dosha in our bodies. What are these?
- Chaotic days without a proper , regulated schedule of eating or sleeping – Vata thrives in chaotic environments. The more chaos you subject yourself to , the more Vata dosha is increased
- Late nights with high media activity – Vata dosha aggravates during night time. So if you habitually work late or stay up late, you will be over using vata dosha
- Eating foods which are high in Vata dosha: Ready to eat Noodles, Instant foods, Breads, breakfast cereal and vegetables like potatoes and cauliflower whichconsume a lot of oil, are deep fried and which are hard and crisp are high in Vata dosha. In times of stress, people tend to consume these foods preferentially over others. This in turn severely aggravates Vata dosha.
How to tackle aggravated vata dosha : Tackling dry skin & hair at the root cause
Vata is “rooksha” (dry), “laghu” (light) and “Sheetya” (cold) , “vishada” (non slimy), “khara”(coarse) and “Daruna” (instable).
Therefore, it is NO WONDER, that when Vata is aggravated, the very same symptoms are manifested at the level of the skin and the hair. So to permanently reverse this condition of dryness, we have to BRING DOWN Vata dosha from its current abnormally high level in the body. How do we do that?
5 point program to bring down aggravated Vata dosha and improve dry skin and hair:
- FIRST, apply oil all over the body, especially in the primary vata seats (ears, abdomen, wrists, knees, joints, etc). This oil should be vata pacifying and should be applied WARM to counter the cold nature of Vata dosha. Oil Abhyanga traps scattered vata dosha and forces it back to its original place. For very high Vata, Abhyanga can be done DAILY. Else, twice or thrice a week. More abhyanga instructions can be found here.
- Apply oil FREQUENTLY and REGULARLY on dry skin & hair. For chronically dry skin, we suggest twice a day application of Krya Moisture Plus skin oil. For hair, we have many options like Krya conditioning hair oil, Krya harmony hair oil, etc. Oil application has to be FREQUENT and REGULAR. This helps trap scattered vata dosha, nourish scalp and skin deeply and help proper, re-generative and correct skin and hair growth.
- REGULATE your exposure to cold and dry winds carefully. Strong wind, cold air, long distance travel and office air conditioning all aggravate Vata . To control this impact, plus your ears and cover the head while travelling. Keep your body warm in cold temperatures by wearing layers of clothing and additional garments like a shawl for warmth. Layering of clothing is an extremely practical and effective way of controlling vata .
- CUT DOWN on your use of electronic media especially post 6 pm. We have seen earlier posts on how use of smartphones and electronic media interferes with sleep patterns and excites Vata. So when vata dosha is aggravated, use of devices that stimulate it should be controlled.
- MONITOR your diet – In times of stress, all of us gravitate towards vata aggravating food (pizzas, burgers, fries, cola, caffeine, etc). The more such foods are consumed, the more they throw our doshas out of balance and the more dry our hair and skin get. Read here for more insights on choosing the correct food for you.
To sum up:
All skin and hair issues are indicative of a deeper underlying imbalance. Ayurveda, therefore, treats at the root cause level. So even dry skin and dry hair are analyzed for what they truly represent: aggravated or imbalanced vata.
Skin and hair systems are not just important for aesthetic reasons. They are our early warning systems through which our body communicates with us and lets us know of underlying problems.
Chronically dry skin and hair point to deeply aggravated vata . Vata dosha is a critical dosha in our prakriti which governs many important functions. As it is the only dosha capable of movement, it also does the job of transporting the other 2 doshas where they are supposed to be. So when Vata is aggravated the functions of the other 2 doshas are also impaired.
City living easily and quickly aggravates Vata dosha. This post explored different aspects of how we can bring aggravated Vata dosha back to balance in easy, do-able ways.
If you have any questions on aggravated vata , or would like our advice , please write to us.
Krya products suggested to bring aggravated Vata dosha under control:
- Krya Abhyanga Skin Oil : A traditionally formulated ayurvedic abhyanga oil designed to balance all 3 doshas. Can be used everyday.
- Krya Women’s Ubtan and Men’s Ubtan : to completely cleanse skin and remove excess oil after an Abhyanga without drying, dehydrating or damaging Srotas of the Skin
- Krya Moisture Plus Skin system (consists of Krya Moisture Plus skin Oil, Moisture plus face mask and Moisture plus Face wash) to help chronically dry skin
- Krya Conditioning hair system (consists of Krya Conditioning hair Oil, Conditioning hair mask, & Conditioning hair wash) for severely dry hair
- Krya Harmony hair oil for stress related chronic scalp dryness