Do you struggle with fear or anxious feelings? Where in your body do you feel it?
I don’t know about you, I feel mine in my stomach. It’s overwhelming, I lose my appetite.
It’s been a minute since I’ve written to you (more like months :P) I felt like I had nothing else to say in me. No more words to put on this page/blog. I know it wasn’t true, it was just a feeling.
I hope you are all doing well. Thank you for checking in and letting me know how you felt after the blogs. I appreciate it all. I’m currently in Australia, visiting my Ayurveda course tutors and team, so do expect more Ayurvedic based content in the next few months.
It was mental health week and I wanted to talk about anxiety from an Ayurvedic perspective. I wrote this blog and never sent it; life just got busy. But better late than never.
The feeling of anxiety, ungroundedness, fear are expressions of excess vata. Vata is one of the 3 doshas (constitution). In Sanskrit, 'vah' means 'vehicle' or that which 'moves', 'carries' or 'spreads'. If you’ve had anxiety, I’m sure you understand how quietly it moves through your body to the point you feel imprisoned by your body.
This excess vata is expressed in mano vaha srotas, which is the mind carrying channel. The model of Ayurveda is completely different to the western teachings. The mind is not limited to the brain and nervous system but is integrated with the body and spirit of the person. The mind carrying channel can travel anywhere in the body. Its root is situated in the heart and the cardiac plexus (the ten great vessels) and heart chakra: its pathway, marga, being the entire body: and its opening, mukha, being the sense organs and the marma points.
I know the above was heavy, but isn’t wonderful to know that our mind is linked to our heart? Mind-blowing really!
A balanced vata have a number of positive mental and emotional capacities like creativity, joy, intuition, expansiveness, clairvoyance, and deep spiritual understanding. However, if experiences or emotions are not processed or ‘digested’ well, ‘mental ama’ (toxin) can be formed which can be toxic to the body as well as the mind.
The qualities (gunas) of vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. Ayurveda explains that like increases like and opposites balance. Hence a diet, lifestyle, therapies, herbs and yoga with similar qualities will aggravate the vata dosha. So we want to bring balance to vata by putting treatments of the opposite gunas in place.
Think of the symptoms of anxiety versus the qualities of vata
light-headedness, sense of emptiness, insomnia >> Light
weight loss >> Light
nervousness, tremors, restlessness, loneliness, fear >> cold, mobile
So to bring balance and stability to vata, we would want to bring treatments that are heavy, warm, nourishing, substantive, oily, and stabilizing in nature.
Treatments for anxiety:
A good routine / habits
Vata is mobile, so bringing a good routine will aim to reduce that erratic movement of vata. When the mind knows what’s happening or planned, it feels calmer. That clarity is what your mind needs.
Walks in nature
Nature is grounding and stabilizing; it is a sanctuary. It brings a sense of calm and serenity to your being, both physical and mental. Research shows that nature reduce stress levels, improve mood and enhance cognitive functions.
Singing your favourite songs or humming
It warms my heart chakra when I sing, even if I sound horrible. Create those little joyous moment for yourself. Dance even, do something nice for yourself.
Proper amount of rest
In our fast moving world, we are always on the go and in hustle mode. There are loans to be paid, a never-ending to-do lists, home repairs that keep piling up and so many more. I understand it seems impossible to take rest. However give your body the time to recover and cleanse from the mental ama. Aim for a good 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Body oiling or a head massage or feet massage
I am giving you options as I know some people don’t like oily head massage.
Find a comfortable position, cover yourself with a blanket and start the relaxation video. https://youtu.be/lV4LRB7gPTo?si=VPfyMbU2JdE6DRfB
Every yoga class ends with a relaxation, so enjoy the bliss without the yoga workout :P If you can stay awake through the whole thing, hats off to you.
Since we are taking ayurvedic and most associate ayurveda with diet, let’s refer to diet. Aim to eat more fresh, whole and seasonal foods like root vegetables, soups and stews that are grounding. Avoid light and cold meals.
I would suggest cooking with warming herbs like cumin, cinnamon, mustard seed, black pepper.
Deep yogic breath and yoga postures like upward movements, back bends, laterals and extensions
Focus on your inhalation; work with the inbreath, lengthening, holding, pausing after inbreath. I would recommend alternate nostril breathing to start.
The mind, body and soul are intrinsically linked. If we can attend to all three, that's when we can truly live a balanced, happy, healthy and fulfilling life.
What can you integrate into your life? Pick one to start.
Wish to learn more about Ayurveda, Dru Australia has a Foundations of Ayurveda course starting 3 November.
Or, wish for a personal consultation with me, book here.