On the recitation of Vata, an Ayurvedic personnel goes a long way in describing it as a prime driving force for all of the actions governed in the body. From driving other doshas to their site of action to driving the body as a whole towards work and/or retreat, It is the dosha that administrates the Neuro-Hormonal happenings of the body. Thus, Vata and its hosts of subtypes is the primal biophysical force of human condition. Any increase, decrease or loss of function of Vata thus devolves into the appearance of symptoms related to neuro-hormonal imbalance. It espouses its action in the form of respiration, drive for stimulus and keeping the bodily Dhatus (tissues) in a normal state. The primary location of it is either bones or the Pakvasaya (Large intestine) depending upon the texts you prescribe for references.

It possesses characters of the wind. It is cold, dry and is in constant motion. Thus, one can imagine when a person has aggravation or depreciation in Vata, these physiognomies gets expressed in the body. For example, a site where neurological supply has been cut off – you can often see a reduction in tone of the muscle. This is a state where the Vata has been cut off from its local muscular effects. Similarly, consider a patient of Parkinsonism, you can’t help but notice tremors and heightened motion during rest. This is a state of exacerbation in Vata.

Then, let us dive headfirst into the intricate types and subtypes of Vata. Charaka was the one who classified Vata into five types depending upon its function and site of action. They are Prana, Udana, Vyana, Apana, and Samana. Prana drives respiration, Udana drives the origination of voice, Vyana drives movement of bodily parts, Apana governs elimination of wastage while Samana governs the peristaltic forces. Thus, in iterating the prime functions of the Vata and its subtypes a pattern emerges that joins the Vata to the neurological system of the body. Prana controls the respiratory muscles. Thus, its primary location is the lungs and chest region. Udana controls laryngeal muscles and primarily resides in the throat. Vyana has its far outreaches along the whole of the body and is the sympathetic component of the nervous system. Apana resides in the urinary bladder and rectum while the primary residence of Samana is along the length of small and large intestine. Apana and Samana together form the parasympathetic control of the body.

The Yogic texts have sub-classified Prana into five subtypes called Upaprana – Naga, Kurma, Krikala, Dhananjaya, and Devadatta. Naga regulates eructation, Kurma controls blinking, Krikala governs sneezing, Dhananjaya the functioning of heart and Devadutta governs yawning. The primary purpose of Yoga and Meditation relies on controlling the flow of Prana and Upaprana by controlling the breathing rhythm. Georg Feuerstein simultaneously compares and describes Prana as “The Chinese call it chi, the Polynesians mana, the Amerindians orenda, and the ancient Germans od. It is an all-pervasive ‘organic’ energy.”

It is aggravated by Hot, Bitter and Astringent foods and pacified by Sweet, Sour, and Salty foods. The primary symptom associated with Vata aggravation is the pain; however other symptoms like desiccation of skin, increase or decline in motion or various parts of the body, etc. may also be connected with Vata and its failure in normality. Oil is regarded as principal pacifier of Vata. Oil may be

prescribed in the form of massage or enema or Nasya (oil through the nose) or Shirodhara (a continuous flow of oil through the head) or Shirobasti (stagnation of oil in the head) depending upon severity and location of Vata aggravation.

Thus, in ridiculing Vata and its subtypes we have to delve into the deep understanding of neuro- hormonal component of the body as well as the elaborate system of Doshas and how they interact with each other and with the bodily organs. Depending upon their site of involvement, the symptoms they show or the functions they reveal may be different. There may be difference according to differing intensities of Dosha aggravation and pacification. A physician with a keen eye and questioning mind is always on the lookout of various manifestations of various Doshas. As for Vata, to know vata is to know what governs the wind of change.