After my 7 day fast that ended two weeks ago, I feel a very strong desire for foods that are moist, warm, mildly spicy, and soft. When I let myself eat these foods, there is a tendency to eat more than I usually do because the body's need for food is satisfied, but its need for these moist, warm, soft sensations is not. Therefore, I often have discomfort in the body later because of overeating.
At present, it is a task for my body to realise that listening to this need for a particular kind of food is not healthy after a particular quantity of food has been eaten, and eating to fulfill this need for warmth beyond that point can lead to fatigue and abdominal pain later, even if at that moment it seems like the right thing to do. Before my fast, this was not a challenge. After my fast, it is. And this is something I am struggling to understand.
From all my attention to my body and mind, I can say that that there is a psychological aspect to this, where the mind craves for new sensations on the tongue to bring relief from a life that can often feel dull and lacking in passion. Fasting has made me more aware of this dullness in my life. There is also the possibility of a heightened awareness of lack of nutrition, which I have discussed in a post previously.
At the same time, I think that the major part of my increased need for food, and particularly food that is of the kind I described above, is physiological rather than psychological.
I also feel the need for warmth and moisture in other ways. So I put a few drops of oil in my nose and ears twice a day, massage my scalp with warm oil on alternate days, and occasionally, give myself a full body oil massage. I also exercise and take warm showers more frequently. My body also feels more uncomfortable than earlier if drinking cold water, or sitting in a room that is made very cold by air conditioning.
Looking at these experiences makes me say that the fast has aggravated my vata dosha, and secondarily, perhaps, also made me more aware of the imbalance of doshas in my body that was already there before the fast.
I am yet to find a comprehensive text on ayurveda's view of fasting, but everywhere on the internet there are short articles saying vata types should not Water Fast
for more than a day or two, and no types should fast for more than 3 days. Longer fasts are recommended only if they are juice fasts or fasts on a mono-meal, like khichari fasts.
How do vata types approach extended water fasting? Is it more difficult for you? Have you experienced any adverse effects after the fast? Do you take any special measures regarding fasts because you are a vata type?
Does fasting aggravate vata or just make one more aware of already aggravated vata?
I would appreciate any thoughts or experiences shared on this subject.
For me this is another interesting area, like raw foods, spices, salt, hunger, and other topics, where natural hygiene and ayurveda seem to contradict each other. From my very basic understanding, it seems that any lack of activity on the mental and physical planes is going to a) create more space, and b) have a cooling effect. Both these invite more vata into the body while subduing pitta and kapha. After the fast this may lead to signs of dosha imbalance, like excessive need for a particular kind of food, weakness and fatigue, inability to gain weight, disturbed sleep cycles, and such.
At present, my position is that even though fasting does aggravate vata, it also makes the body sensitive enough to deal with it in the long run. However, I should increase the length of my fasts only gradually so that the resulting effects are easy to deal with. So next month I may do a 10 day fast, perhaps a 2 week one, but no more than that.
When the body is thoroughly cleansed, perhaps after fasting to completion once or twice, it may have the ability to balance itself using its internal resources and through using food and other things with a sharpened perception of how much is enough, which my body clearly doesn't have at present.