By Bindi Shah
I came into practicing and teaching meditation through my interest in Vayu and how this element affects our everyday life. I learned during my Ayurveda studies that there is a major force which governs our mind and therefore our body. This major force is called Vayu, or the vital function of life. The great sage, Acharya Charaka, likened Vayu to God, so great did he see its importance to the world.
Vayu can be translated from the Sanskrit to mean ‘movement’. In the natural world Vayu is present in the flow of rivers, burning of fire, rain, movement of the planets and stars, the formation of clouds, the growth of plants and the climate. An imbalanced Vayu leads to fierce winds, earthquakes, natural disasters, and climatic changes.
In the individual, Vayu is the binding force behind the dhatus, the structural form of the body; it stimulates the agni, the digestive fire; it expels the waste products of the body; it is responsible for the sense organs and for the happiness and energy of the person. The Vayu in the body is known as Vata and an increase or imbalanced vata does not make a happy person. Too much vata in the person can lead to a reduction in strength of the body; an irregular appetite and digestion; a feeling of being unrooted and not stable; depression, anxiety, fear and general mental instability.
There are four ways in which this state of Vata can be balanced.
1. Changing the quality of food taken.
2. Purvakarma therapies of oleation (oil therapies).
3. Undertaking a regime of yoga and pranayama (breathing techniques).
4. Meditation and adopting a positive outlook of life.
The qualities of vayu or vata are dry, cold, and light. This means that the quality of food we intake should be less dry and cold foods, such as salads and we should eat more more warming foods, such as soups.
Purvakarma therapies in the form of oil therapies should be regularly taken in a person where the Vata has become imbalanced. The main oil therapy in Ayurveda is Abhyanga, or the full body oil application. Warm oil is applied to the body and downward strokes given. The qualities of oil are unctuous and warm so the opposite of dry and cold. These qualities along with the downward stokes, which move the Vata away from the mind and towards the feet therefore grounding the person, effectively balance the Vata. In fact the oil therapies are so effective that the person can feel the benefits of the decrease in Vata after the first treatment.
The third main way in which Vata can be balanced is by undertaking a practice of yoga and pranayama. The ancient science of yoga goes hand in hand with the teachings of Ayurveda. Yoga asanas or postures work deeply with the breath of the person thus directly with the prana or vital life-force of the person. Each posture focuses on the breath to come into or come out of the posture, and this helps the person control their breathing. By deep breathing we are automatically relaxing the body and balancing our prana or the Vata which has become increased.
A simple breathing technique or pranayama is deep breathing with a longer exhalation than inhalation. This is excellent to relax the body and great to do before any stressful situations, such as job interviews or exams.
Sit as relaxed as possible and start to listen to the breath. Then inhale to a count of five and exhale to a longer count of ten. Do not worry if your exhalation seems too short to begin with and you cannot last the full count of ten. This will improve the more you practise and the main objective is to exhale longer than you inhale so even if you reach seven or eight counts, that is fine.
Another essential life breathing exercise which can be learnt by anyone and the effects felt almost immediately is Nadi-Sudhi.
Again try and sit in a relaxed state, and start to listen to your breath. Inhale deeply through the left nostril by closing the right, then close the left nostril and exhale the air out of the right. Then inhale from the right nostril and exhale out of the left. This is one round. The first stage of Nadi-Sudhi is not to worry how long you are inhaling or exhaling but to just inhale and exhale to your maximum capacity.
Both of these two breathing techniques will decrease Vata and help bring about calm.
The fourth way to balance Vata in the body is by Meditation. In my opinion this ancient art in your daily routine, will allow you to bring more joy into your life. Meditation works by changing the mindset of the person. Being in the moment, allowing positive thoughts in, expressing gratitude are all aspects of a meditative practice and will help you grow and maintain a positive outlook.
In combination these four techniques of eating differently, oil therapies, yoga and meditation can greatly benefit the vayu by regulating it and not letting it become imbalanced. This will in turn balance the mind and thus the body. In our overly busy and rushed world, we all need to decrease our increased Vata. Try one of the methods today, your body and mind will love you for it.
About the Author
Bindi’s journey to her soul offerings started in 2001 with a visit to an Ayurveda retreat in India. After discovering how good it felt to receive deep natural health-care and what a difference this made to her life, she embarked on a course in India to learn more of this ancient art. The year-long study in India included theory from the ancient scriptures, learning the poetic language of Sanskrit, Vedic-astrology, Yoga, Meditation and Herbs. It was an amazing experience and on returning to London, she set up her business helping people with the knowledge she had gained. Bindi has wonderful soul offerings in her online school and is writing her first book based on life coaching techniques which have helped her and her clients.