Everything You Need to Know about Ayurvedic Support for Mild Anxiety
The mind, body, and spirit are intricately linked. Anxiety is a condition that originates in the mind, causing physiological changes similar to the stress response in the body. Ayurvedically speaking, anxiety is a dosha imbalance where excess vata accumulates in the nervous system. Because we are in the height of vata season, it is a common time to experience increased anxiety in the form of insomnia, a restless mind, nervousness, panic, and/or fearful thoughts. Ayurveda offers time-tested wisdom regarding diet, lifestyle, herbal remedies, yoga, meditation, and pranayama to help bring balance to the body and ease anxiety.
The belief of Ayurveda is that the body is born with an inherent wisdom to always return to a healthy state of blissful mind, body, and spirit. In the case of occasional anxiety, Ayurveda teaches the tools to achieve a natural, healthful life by first identifying and removing the cause of the anxiety, whether it be a vata-aggravating diet or lifestyle, habitual negative thinking, or an unhealthy reaction to stress, and then balance the doshas within the body. The Ayurvedic approach to cultivating a sense of calm and well-being is to balance vata dosha.
A vata-pacifying diet can help to reduce vata in the body and mind. Follow nature's lead by eating a variety of fresh, seasonal, organic foods. The plentiful root vegetables and squashes of autumn are particularly grounding for vata. Choose meals that are warm, soft, and easy to digest. Try nourishing one pot meals, like this recipe for basic kitchari.
For more information see our guide, Balancing Vata.
According to Ayurveda, abhyanga (self oil massage) is an important component of a vata-pacifying routine. The Sanskrit word sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love”. It is believed that the effects of abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability, safety, and warmth. This practice nourishes and strengthens the body, encourages regular sleep patterns, stimulates internal organs, enhances blood circulation, and can significantly reduce vata. To help reduce vata, Sesame Oil or Vata Massage Oil can be used. For maximum results, massage daily. For more information on abhyanga, including instructions, visit our guide, Ayurvedic Self-Massage.
Stress is a common factor in many disorders, including anxiety. Often anxiety arises from the body's inappropriate response to external stressors, so it is of utmost importance to choose an appropriate and healthful way to deal with stress. How you react to stress is dependent on your constitution. Highly sensitive vata dosha is particularly affected by stressors and excess stimuli. During this time it may be helpful to reduce sources of stress. Try to identify negative coping patterns and replace them with positive ones such as optimism, affirmations, laughter, inspirational reading, or uplifting music.
Regular moderate exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga, or tai chi can be a great way to relieve tension and anxiety and allow energy to flow freely in the body. Regular exercise also has a powerful positive effect on mood, improving self-esteem, and the ability to handle stressful life situations.
Getting regular sleep is absolutely essential to health of both the body and mind. When in a state of deep sleep, little or no energy is consumed. This quiet state gives the body and mind a chance to renew, refresh, and restore themselves.
Stress Ease is a combination of rejuvenating herbs that support both physical and mental resiliency. Its main ingredient, ashwagandha, is a highly effective adaptogen renowned for its ability to support the body in times of stress. Energizing to the body and calming to the mind, this formula has none of the side effects or “crashes” associated with caffeine or sugar. Stress Ease unlocks your natural vitality and helps you maintain your strength and energy throughout the day.
Inability to relax may lead to difficulty in getting to sleep and constant waking through the night. Tranquil Mind is carefully formulated to soothe the nerves and calm the mind without creating dullness or lethargy. This synergistic herbal blend, including bhringaraj, skullcap, passionflower, and guduchi, helps you regain your center and connect with your natural state of well-being.
Healthy Vata tablets are a synergistic formula combining ashwagandha with shatavari, vidari kanda, brahmi, guduchi, kapikacchu, cardamom, and pippali to help restore and maintain balanced vata dosha and promote overall health and well-being.
Nasya Oil helps ease mental and emotional stress, anxiety, fear, and negativity. Lubrication of the nasal passages with medicated nasya oil provides subtle moisture to the air we breathe and affects the higher cerebral faculties and sensory organs. It supports clarity of perception, intuition, and stimulates memory. Nasya supports cerebral circulation, restoring and balancing prana in the body.
If you have access and the means to an Ayurvedic practitioner or an Ayurvedic spa, a shirodhara treatment (the practice of pouring warm oil on the third-eye center) with Shirodhara Oil is beneficial, particularly because of the heavy quality of sesame oil. This therapy is traditionally used to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and remove excess vata.
When feeling anxious, it is common to be constantly worrying about "what ifs" or getting caught up in what others are thinking. Many times fearful or negative thoughts can become habitual.
“We have to be able to recognize a habit when it manifests itself, because if we know how to recognize our habit, it will lose its energy and will not be able to push us anymore... We have to practice in order to be able to transform this habit in us.”
Yoga, meditation, and/or pranayama, when practiced regularly, have transformative powers on the mind, body, and spirit. These practices help to quiet the mind and bring the body more in touch with the heart and a divine universal consciousness where fear does not exist. Getting in touch with universal consciousness helps you to recognize the illusory nature of individual fears.
Yoga is one practice that helps to draw your attention inward. Particularly when coordinating breath with movement in your practice, the mind can be freed of thought by simply following the breath and how it moves in the body. Certain asanas or poses such as Child's pose, Knees to Chest, and Legs up the Wall help to relieve excess vata and calm the nervous system. Click the following link for more information on vata pacifying yoga.
Exercising the breath helps to circulate prana throughout the body. The breathing of an anxious person is usually shallow, light, and tends to be rapid. A person can feel easily fatigued because they are not able to access energy that is released from the absorption of prana. Learning to slow the rate of breathing and move the breath deep into the abdomen can decrease anxiety and help to balance other symptoms of anxiety. A simple practice of deep abdominal breathing for ten rounds whenever anxious or anticipating anxiety can help calm the body and mind.
Meditation is an invaluable tool for managing stress and easing anxiety. When practiced regularly, you experience a deep sense of peace. As a result, you will be able to carry that sense of calm into your everyday life. It will become second nature to meet challenges with peace and equanimity.
Ayurveda and Yoga can be useful tools to help you face your fears, guide you back to your true nature, and heal your life.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”