Age-Proof Your Life with Ayurveda

Age-Proof Your Life with Ayurveda
Vatas are playful,and creative. But an out-of balance vata pays a high price for all that energy. "Vatas respond to stress by becoming accelerated," says Chopra Center's David Simon, M.D. They tend to get anxious, have insomnia, develop irregularities in sleeping and eating. That translates into digestive disturbances, panic attacks, and palpitations."

Calm your mind: The key to creating balance is calming your mind and body through relaxation and meditation. "Vata dosha is like the wind," says Apte of the Ayurvedic Institute of America. "It can make you feel cold, dry, and lightheaded– blown around by life."

Visualize: Taking time to come down to earth is a powerfully balancing practice. "We use a simple visualization exercise that uses the body as a point of focus," Apte says.

Stick to a routine: To offset the irregular influence of vata, you need to create a daily routine, says Apte. "I tell my vata clients not to worry, it's not that complicated," she says. "All you need to do is wake up at 6 A.M. every day, meditate for 20 minutes, eat three meals a day, exercise for an hour, and go to bed by 10 P.M. If you can do that, you'll live to be 90 and feel healthy the whole time."

Massage with oils: "Vatas tend to age faster, since we're all accumulating more vata as we age regardless of our type," explains Pratima Raichur, author of Absolute Beauty. "Dryness is the main problem—it causes premature wrinkles, hair loss, constipation, extreme dryness in hands and feet."

Rub on sesame oil: To offset the tendency to dryness, Raichur recommends oil–and plenty of it. "Daily oil massage can help delay the aging process." Raichur suggests rubbing pure sesame oil into your skin, from head to toe (including the scalp) every day, creating a pre–shower ritual. To bring more balance, you can mix in sweet, warming essential oils to create a vata-balancing blend. "Lemon and orange oil are sour and warming; geranium and rose are sweet and hydrating," she says. "You can also add these to almond oil and massage into your face."

Eat warm stews: "Vatas often forget to eat, but you need to schedule it—food is very grounding," says Chopra Center dietary advisor Jessica Faulkner. Choose foods that are fully cooked, warm, and/or soupy—especially if the weather is cold and windy. Ginger tea, which is especially warming, is also helpful.

Avoid cool foods: "Since vata dosha correlates to air and space, you want to stay away from foods that are cooling or that might cause gas," says Jennifer Workman, an Ayurvedic dietitian. "Beans, salads, broccoli, and cauliflower are no-nos for vatas. You do better with heavier foods, with a little sea salt added." In addition, nearly all oils are beneficial– particularly ghee or clarified butter–as are nuts.

Lift weights: Vata types benefit most from weight workouts, says Simon. "You need to get grounded, to feel stronger, to even add to your body mass." He recommends doing some form of weight–bearing exercise at least three times a week. In his book, Grow Younger, Live Longer he recommends seven basic exercises: biceps curls, shoulder rotations, push-ups, abdominal crunches, back arches (similar to an unsupported Cobra Pose), supported squats, and toe raises. Do them every other day, and you'll feel stronger in two weeks, Simon promises.

Take ashwaganda: To ease the stress, take herbs with adaptogenic properties like ashwaganda, says Simon. "It curbs anxiety, depression, and inflammation and builds the immune system." Take one 1000 mg capsule every morning.

Try triphala: Another useful herb for vatas is triphala, says Jay Apte, director of the Ayurvedic Institute of America. "Triphala helps to counterbalance constipation, but it's not just a laxative," she explains. "It helps your body cleanse itself, and it improves digestion and assimilation." Take two to three 500 mg capsules with warm water at bedtime.