Ayurveda is the oldest system of medicine and has been practiced in India for more than 5000 years. Ayu means life and veda means knowledge or science. Therefore, Ayurveda means knowledge or science of life. Ayurveda is a holistic science that looks at the whole person when assessing health and not just the symptoms.
According to Ayurveda, every person has a unique constitution which is influenced by three biological forces – Vata, Pitta and Kapha, also known as the three doshas, which govern all bodily and mental functions. Just like our unique one of a kind thumb print, we have a very unique energy print. Each person has a distinctive combination of these three forces which influence his/her physical and mental characteristics.
Vata imbalance leads to anxiety in an individual. Vata is composed of Air and Space. It is dry, cold, light, irregular and mobile. Like increases like. Therefore, to pacify vata, one has to bring in the opposite qualities of unctuous, warm, heavy, regular and stable. For example, dry foods like crackers, chips, toast cause vata aggravation and warm, unctuous foods pacify vata. Running, jogging, cardio are vata aggravating and on the other hand, yoga, tai chi are vata pacifying.
So how does one know if they have a vata imbalance? You may be experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms:
- Bloating, gas, constipation
- Erratic appetite
- Light sleep or insomnia
- Mind keeps racing
- Anxiety, panic, fear
- Dry skin
- Twitches and tremors
- Feeling spacey, lack of clarity
- Low body weight
Ayurvedic recommendations for Anxiety
- Follow a regular routine for eating, exercising and sleep.
- Avoid raw, dry and cold food and beverages, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and carbonated drinks. Eat a vata pacifying diet of cooked, warm, unctuous foods.
- Massage your feet with warm sesame oil (preferably organic, raw and cold pressed) every night. Daily oil massage (self-Abhyanga) is also recommended.
- Pranayama- breathing exercises like alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) and bumble bee breath (bhramari pranayama) are extremely beneficial to decrease anxiety
- Tea made with lemon balm and ginger are beneficial
- Herbs like tulsi (holy basil) and ashwagandha are helpful to treat anxiety. Both these herbs are adaptogens and work wonderfully but should be taken with a practitioner’s advice as they can be heating for the liver and body if taken orally. Transdermal tulsi and ashwagandha are safe.
- Manipulating Talahridaya marma, which is located in the center of the palm, helps to calm anxiety immediately. Do 7 clockwise rotations on this marma point with the ring finger.
- Ayurvedic therapies like shirodhara, shiroabhyanga and abhyanga help to treat anxiety.
- Meditation and mindfulness help to calm anxiety. Mantra chanting, instrumental music, particularly flute is very calming.
- Grounding by walking barefoot, hugging trees, spending time in nature.
Ayurveda gives best results because it is very personalized and it treats individuals, not their symptoms. While the above recommendations help to calm anxiety, it is important to address the root cause of anxiety in the individual. What are the influencing factors? Is it improper diet, overactive lifestyle, age or seasonal and environmental influence? Unless the root cause or causes are not addressed, one wont experience true healing.