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Originating in India several thousand years ago, Ayurveda (Sanskrit for "science of life") is a system that classifies physical ailments and mental conditions according to one's basic constitution, or body type. Called doshas (Sanskrit for "temperament"), these three distinct types are categorized as Pitta (hot and sharp), Kapha (heavy and water-retaining) and Vata (dry and windy). Pitta is intense, active and volatile with a craving for spicy foods and caffeinated drinks. Kapha is even-tempered, slow, depressive and tends to overeat. Vata is meticulous, moody, nervous and often suffers from poor digestion. When Pitta is overstimulated, Kapha indulges or Vata becomes irritable, conditions and ailments associated with these doshas erupt.

To allay the symptoms and promote the dosha's positive qualities, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend specific lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, environment and even attitude. In this article, I will examine the Vata dosha. Part One of this series covered Pitta, and Part Two covered Kapha.

Vata Personality and Body Type

Just as hot Pitta is prone to heartburn and ulcers, and heavy Kapha tends toward weight gain and asthma, Vata is a cold, dry dosha (temperament) whose physical complaints include joint ailments, brittle bones and intestinal disorders. At their best, Vata types are brilliant, talkative, quick-witted and detail-oriented. Under stress, however, they easily become anxious, fearful and irritable. Their overactive minds may cause them to worry unnecessarily, become depressed, suffer from insomnia and even experience panic attacks. Drinking warm milk and taking a hot bath before retiring may help Vata to unwind and ensure a good night's sleep. If that doesn't do the trick, try drinking naturally relaxing herbal teas like chamomile, valerian or vervain. Most important, restrict the intake of caffeinated beverages to the morning hours only.

Proper Diet Helps Vata

Eating three meals at regular intervals, and getting sufficient rest will counteract Vata excitability and strengthen the nervous system. While raw fruits and vegetables are recommended to Pittas, who need to cool off, and to Kaphas who should eliminate excess water, Vata types must avoid gaseous foods that are hard to digest, and aggravate the intestinal tract. Instead of salads, thin, overactive Vata people should consume soups, stews, hot cereal and fresh baked bread and butter, which will warm and nourish this cold, dry dosha. Though fat should never be eaten too liberally, Vata is the only temperament who can add light sauces and gravies to their diet. Above all, Vata types need structure, regularity and a lifestyle that is stimulating, yet organized and calm—if that is at all possible.

Woody Allen: The Vata Profile

With his slight frame, self-mocking humor and reputation as a perfectionist, writer-director Woody Allen, whose latest film is Small Time Crooks, seems to fit the Vata profile. His neurotic, high-strung personality and tendency toward depression are mirrored in the personas of the many characters he portrays on screen. During the years that he and Mia Farrow enjoyed a personal and professional partnership, they always maintained separate residences. While Farrow relished spending time at her home in the Connecticut countryside, Allen, a self-confessed workaholic, found the insect population and cricket noises anything but relaxing. In his award-winning movie Annie Hall, Allen's character, who reflected his own sentiments, cannot wait to leave Los Angeles, the land of fruits and nuts, and return to noisy, bustling, yet intellectually-stimulating New York City.

Astrologically Vata

Quick-witted Gemini, efficient Virgo, work-oriented Capricorn and sociable Aquarius are all categorized as Vata signs. (Due to its association with the bowels and need for control, Scorpio, a Pitta sign, also falls in the Vata category.) Vata planets include Mercury (linked to Gemini and Virgo), Saturn (linked to Capricorn and Aquarius) and Uranus (linked to Aquarius). When any of these planets are prominent, i.e. angular, or are the rulers of the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant in a birth chart, Vata personality traits and physical complaints are likely to occur.

Woody Allen's Chart: An Exercise in Vata

In Woody Allen's horoscope, Mercury (which is conjunct the Imum Coeli) and Saturn (which is conjunct the Descendant) are angular. His Virgo Ascendant is Mercury-ruled; and the Moon is placed in Uranus-ruled Aquarius. With each Vata planet prominently positioned in Allen's chart, it is no wonder that he is wildly innovative, serious-minded, yet highly strung.

Like most others with Virgo rising, Allen is a fastidious, detail-oriented perfectionist. Mercury, the Ascendant ruler, provides his clever, quick wit, while its exact square from Saturn makes him morose and a loner. Mercury is also the apex of a mutable t-square involving Saturn, which conjoins the descendant, and the Virgo Ascendant, which Mercury rules. Because his Sun, Jupiter and Mercury are in optimistic Sagittarius, Allen has been able to channel his self-deprecation and sullen qualities into a lucrative career and creative lifestyle. (In addition to writing and directing, Allen plays the clarinet and performs with a jazz band most Monday nights.)

Given the fact that Allen's t-square is comprised of Vata signs and planets, it is likely that any emotional and physical complaints come from that source. With Saturn, which is associated with skin, joints and bones, opposing the Ascendant, which rules the body, he may suffer from Vata-related eczema, psoriasis, arthritis or intestinal disorders. His well-documented depression and pessimistic outlook is also understandable with Saturn's exact aspect to Mercury, which rules the mind. We do not know if Allen has been on any anti-depressant medication, but psychoanalysis has played a major role in his life for over 40 years. Without a therapist to speak to regularly, who knows how well Allen would have been able to confront his demons?

Within the coming year, Jupiter and Saturn will transit the sign of Gemini, forming a grand cross with Allen’s natal Ascendant, Mercury and Saturn. In spring, 2001, transiting Uranus conjoins his Aquarius Moon. If he hasn't already, Allen may experience some of the above Vata complaints. With Allen as guarded as he is, we may have to wait for another film to know how the transits have actually played themselves out.

Editor’s note: The health information given in this article is not meant as a substitute for care from a qualified physician. This information is given for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or prescribe. is not responsible for any mishaps that occur as a result of using this information.



Ronnie Dreyer is an internationally-known astrological consultant, lecturer and teacher based in New York City and the author of several books, columns, articles and book reviews. She lectures extensively for astrology groups & national conferences, and conducts ongoing courses & workshops in Vedic astrology. She co-founded one of the first astrological computer services in Holland where she lived for ten years and was Astro*Carto*Graphy's Dutch distributor. Ronnie was AFAN's secretary from 1992-1998 and is currently its presiding officer. She is editor of the NCGR memberletter. She is on the Board of Directors of ACT. In 1994, she received the Jyotish Kovid award from the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences, and in 1998 received the Jim Lewis Community Service Award from AFAN.

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Other StarIQ articles by Ronnie Dreyer:

  • Astrology and Ayurveda: Kapha   8/25/2012
  • Astrology and Ayurveda: Pitta   8/18/2012
  • Charlie Sheen: From Sin to Spin   5/3/2001
  • Martin Sheen: Long Road to The West Wing   3/29/2001
  • Steve Martin: That Wild and Crazy Guy   3/25/2001
  • Jesse Jackson: Saint or Sinner?   2/27/2001
  • Sarah Jessica Parker: The Gal With the Midas Touch   1/12/2001
  • Rick Lazio: Still a Mystery   10/26/2000
  • Move Over Madonna, Rocco's Arrived   10/20/2000

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