Jikan wrote:How do you know what vata you are--that is, can you self-diagnose, so to speak?
Any recommended readings on this topic?
I am unsure if I understand your question. Do you mean 'how do you know which vata you are' or 'how do you know which energy type/dosha you are'?
The beginning of Ayurvedic treatment would be to determine which energy type you are. There are 3 basic types - vata, pitta, kapha (wind, bile, phlegm) and 4 more subtypes, or more according to certain classifications. You could to some online tests like the one Virgo recommended. Reading a good book on Ayurveda would make your diagnosis a little more credible. However, before making any major changes in your lifestyle or diet, I think it is good to see an Ayurvedic doctor in person or even on Skype if you can, so that you are not aggravating the wrong energy. Minor changes in diet and lifestyle may be harmless if you do it only by following a book.
I am relatively new to this topic but from what I have read, for beginners, Vasant Lad's 'Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing' is a simple book to start with, which covers most of the basics.
As a beginner, if you are more interested in a somewhat psychological/spiritual slant on Ayurvedic medicine, inclusive of the physical aspects, Maya Tiwari's 'Ayurveda: A Life of Balance' is a good book. To me, it is a bit too new-agey in its style, but useful nonetheless, especially in the way it shows how modern living disconnects us from our potential for health and well-being. It also has a lot of recipes that you will eventually need if you follow this path.
Both these books can be found on LibGen.
A more advanced book is David Frawley's 'Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide'. It has a lot of detailed information and recommendations, and I would recommend it if you have understood the basics and are curious to have a deeper grasp of the system. However, a large portion of what Frawley writes about in this book is perhaps best practiced under the supervision of a trained doctor. I am reading it currently but will not do everything that is present in the book until I see an Ayurvedic doctor.
Robert Svoboda is also an author who I find quite knowledgeable and you might want to see some of his books.
Now, if you meant 'how do you know what vata you are' - then the answer would be totally different. There are 5 types of vata and all of us have each of them. However, the aggravation of each may be linked to particular illnesses, although I am unsure if it is possible to be so specific. An advanced book on Ayurveda would be helpful to answer this question but I do not know which one.