The simplest way to explain Vata dosha is – it is just like air, wind. The functions that wind carries out in nature, is quite similar to the functions of Vata Dosha inside the body.
Air in environment
Functions of wind in atmosphere can be enlisted as below –
Maintenance and sustenance of the earth,
Providing breathing air to all creatures
kindling of fire,
bringing about compactness and movement of clouds and water
creation of clouds, showering of rains, flowing of rivers,
At a micro level, air is responsible for maturity of flowers, fruits, shooting of plants, germination of seeds, growth of plants, brings about hardness and dryness to the grains.
Overall, for all kinds of transformation, growth and movement of anything, air is responsible.
Air is naturally coolant in nature. Hence, when associated with water, it imparts more coldness but when associated with fire, it kindles it.
Air and Vata Dosha
Air inside our body is called as Vata Dosha. The flatus, respiration, the air in the stomach, – these are all part of Vata Dosha itself. Hence, whenever you think of Vata Dosha, if you think of air then the imbalance symptoms, diseases and treatments will be very easy to understand.
Vata Dosha qualities, functions
Qualities of Vata dosha – To understand the functions of Vata, please keep these Vata qualities in mind.
dryness, lightness, coldness, roughness, minuteness and movement.
Functions of Vata Dosha in the body:
Vata Dosha, when it is normal, sustains the functioning of all the organs of the body. It stimulates all organs and maintains smoothness of functioning.
Vata initiates all the actions of internal organs.
Movement quality of Vata
Vata is responsible for all the movements of the body – like movement of hands, legs, eyes, tongue, breathing, movement of fluids, flatus, wind etc wherever you can imagine any type of movement, Vata is responsible.
Vata, the master of body orchestra –
वायुः तन्त्र यन्त्र धरः
Vayuhu Tantra Yantra Dharaha…..
Vata is the master of the body orchestra. No activity occurs without the initiation, motivation and stimulation from Vata. All movements, physiology of circulation, digestion, excretion, sensory and motor functions etc are carried out by normal Vata. Vata also controls Pitta, Kapha and their activities.
पित्तं पङ्गु कफं पङ्गु पङ्गवो मल धातवः।
वायुना यत्र नीयन्ते तत्र गच्छति मेघवत्॥
Pitta, Kapha, the dhatus or tissues of the body and the malas or waste materials of the body (excreta like stools, urine and sweat) are said to be lame, they are said to move and render their activities whenever they are pushed and motivated by Vata, just like the clouds move when propelled by the moving wind. This shows the authority of Vata in the body.
Other functions of Vata
Speech: Vata is responsible for speech. Speaking involves movement of air in and out of the voice box, for which Vata is responsible. A person with high Vata speaks more.
Control of mind: In the process of gaining knowledge, mind moves to and fro between the five sense organs and conveys it to intellect. This functioning of mind is also controlled by Vata Dosha. Learn – how knowledge is gained through sense organs and mind. This is why, people with Vata body type are quite unstable and fast in their thinking.
Vata Dosha stimulates and controls all sense organs – Ears, eyes, nose, skin and tongue.
Vata Dosha maintains the compactness and unison of all the body organs.
Vata Dosha is the root cause for happiness and enthusiasm
Wind is necessary for the fire to burn. Similarly, Vata dosha helps digestion power. It is also responsible for –
peristalsis movement of the esophagus, stomach and intestines
Mixing of food with gastric and intestinal secretions
division of food into small particles
Assimilation of digested food essence part into blood and its circulation throughout the body.
Vata controls Pitta and Kapha
Pitta and Kapha Doshas are immobile. Vata guides them. As a the clouds are moved from one place to the other by the wind, Vata guides Pitta and Kapha to different parts of the body.
Respiration: It involves air moving in and out of lungs so, definitely a Vata activity.
Blood circulation – Again, anything with movement is due to Vata, so also blood circulation, transportation of food nutrients, gases, waste products etc by the blood and so on.
Evacuation of waste products:
This is obviously a Vata activity. – Urination, excretion of waste products in the form of sweat, urine, respiration, defecation – all these are Vata activities.
Vata plays a major role in drying up excess moisture from watery stool in the large intestines and thus helps in proper stool formation.
Fetus growth and child birth:
Fetus growth, division of cells, is due to Vata Dosha. Even the child birth process is a Vata Dosha function. Vata molds and shapes embryo.
Wherever there is empty place, there is Vata Dosha. Hence, Vata forms all the micro and macro body channels.
Types of Vata Dosha
Though Vata is of only one type, based on its placement and specific action, and for easy understanding, it is divided into five types as below.
Prana is located in the head and moves in the chest, throat. It regulates will power, heart, sense organs, intellect and vision. It is the cause for expectoration, sneezing, belching, inspiration and swallowing of food.
Prana Vata is considered as the force that takes care of functioning of heart, lungs and throat (swallowing, belching etc).
The chest is the seat of Udana, it moves in the nose, umbilicus and throat; its functions are initiation of speech, effort, enthusiasm, strength, color, complexion and memory.
Udana Vata is correlated with breath and process of respiration.
Vyana is located in the heart, moves all over the body in great speed. It attends to functions such as flexion and extension (loco motor action) opening and closing of the eyelids etc.
Vyana is related with blood circulation and muscle activities – flexion and extension.
Samana Vata is located near the digestive fire. It moves in the gastro intestinal tract,
It receives the food into stomach, aids in digestion, helps in dividing the food into useful part and waste part, and moves these parts in their normal paths.
Samana Vata’s activities are limited to digestive tract, assisting in normal downward peristalsis movement.
Apana Vata is located in the Apana – large intestine, moves in the waist, bladder, genitals. It attends to the functions such as ejaculation, menstruation, defecation, urination and child birth.
Apana maintains all excretion process related with lower half of trunk.
So, all in all, Vata has its role, in full or in parts, in most of the physiological functions of the body.