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An Anti-Aging Support Practice for Vata Vrddhi

Vata Vrddhi is a term that describes an unhealthy increase in Vata Dosha within the body. It can occur in any or all of Vata's subdosha (Prana (primary site/seat), Udana, Samana, Vyana, Apana). The term Vata means 'to move' and all of the sites of Vata are directions in which Prana (Ether and Wind Element) move.

Typically, when Vata increase occurs a degeneration occurs in the effected area. This can also occur in the whole body leading to an unhealthy (for the effected person) weight loss. I say 'for the affected person' because each person will have a weight at which their body is healthy and anything below this is termed Vata Vrddhi. It has nothing to do with BMI or accepted norms of 'fat' or 'thin' which can both be derogatory terms but rather points to 'sara' which is a term in Ayurveda referring to optimum health of each of the seven tissues - lymph, blood, muscle, fat, bone, nerve tissue and reproductive tissue (rasa, rakta, mamsa, medas, asthi, majja, sukra).

In Vata Vrddhi the bone tissue is more affected or affected first and this can lead to symptoms of pain (specifically cutting, twisting, splitting pains and body-aches). This does not correlate to the Western terminology for bone fractures, breaks, disease etc but is rather signaling an unhealthy deterioration at the fascia level (a most subtle change) that the brain highlights through pain. Pain also occurs when there is any emergency or any distress occurring from external or internal causes. At this point, rather than a symptom of Vata increase this becomes a cause of Vata increase. Therefore, pain correlates to Vata Vrddhi always.

Massage with oils and herbs over the whole body is a 'go to' for symptoms of Vata increase.

Noticing dark circles under the eyes, a feeling of coldness on the body and dryness within the hair, eyes, mucous membranes, sinuses and skin can be a flag for Vata increase becoming an issue in your body. As can an inability to sit still (a tapping of feet and fingers/swinging of legs/playing with hair/changing position of standing and sitting constantly). Though my favourite description of Vata Vrddhi has to be 'irrelevant talk'. That's a double whammy of judging. Not just 'you're talking alot' - but it's 'irrelevant'. Wow! But, we've all been there and this can be the subtle start of nervous system overload. You could also find that hair-loss (not balding, which is a Pitta Vrddhi issue) occurs more than usual.

Bloating and constipation are symptoms of the downward Wind Element and sub-dosha of Vata - Apana Vayu becoming weak.

I've named the Vata Vrddhi movement practice an Anti-Aging practice because the primary quality driving an increase of Vata Dosha is a drying out or aging of the body-tissues. This movement practice works with slow, long held moves that focus on the grounding aspects of movement including hip strength and release of tension in the hips and legs.

Aging does increase Vata Dosha in everyone so anything that decreases Vata Dosha (at any age) is Anti-Aging. Because of this drying effect of Vata Dosha Increase anything that oils the body is going to help mitigate the symptoms. As I said, full body massage is a wonderful antidote not only to pain but to all the other symptoms too.

Warming the body up without drying it out is also a great way to treat Vata Vrddhi. Using hot water bottles, electric blankets, extra blankets, keeping wrapped up and properly dressed for the weather if out in the cold, hot-tubs,steam rooms (wet heat not dry heat like a sauna is better) and getting out in the sunshine when it is there.

Creating stillness and heaviness is a good way to remedy the mobile aspect of an excess of the Wind Element. Try travelling less or creating more time in-between journeys. Use light to moderate exercise routines instead of intense super-challenging techniques and try to add in time for a long relaxation (savasana) at the end of work-outs to let the body recover before moving onto the next thing.

Make sure your meals are nourishing and have plenty of natural oils (un-toasted sesame oil and ghee are great choices for both cooking and adding after cooking) and energy (calories). Naturally sweet foods such as cooked fruits (eaten before meals not with them) and sweet root vegetables will help to nourish and soothe the body. Fermented foods and naturally salty foods (seafoods and sea vegetables) are a great addition to your daily dietary needs.

Triphala is a great way to get the grounding Vata sub-dosha (Apana Vayu) into action. If you would like to take Ashwagandha as an anti-aging herb please talk to an Ayurvedic practitioner to assess your current 'ama' levels.

If you would like to practice with the full range of Five Element Fitness therapeutic classes (and practices that work with the Five Elements (Ether, Wind, Fire, Water, Earth) they are available on Demand here via subscription.

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