Ayurvedic Approach To Soothing Vata And Anxiety
The world has been plagued by uncertainty, and many people feel sad, depressed, isolated, and anxious. If you’re among this population of people feeling out of sorts, Ayurveda can help. Contrary to mainstream medicine, which relies heavily on pharmaceuticals, the Ayurvedic approach focuses on treating the root cause of your distress.
In this article on taking an Ayurvedic approach to soothing Vata dosha and anxiety, we’ll explore:
- Why it’s difficult to feel good and grounded during times of uncertainty
- Which doshas are associated with anxiety
- How to take an Ayurvedic approach to healing
- 7 tips for calming and restoring the nervous system
Why it’s difficult to regulate well-being during times of uncertainty
From time to time, we all experience stressful, anxiety-inducing experiences that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is especially true when unexpected events occur that we have no control over.
In response to these experiences, your body releases cortisol — a hormone that regulates and reduces stress. However, when the stress-inducing events are continual, like the riots and pandemic have been, your body may lose its ability to regulate and keep you in balance. As a result, ongoing anxiety, depression, and PTSD can occur.
Impact of anxiety on the Doshas
We are comprised of the three doshas. These doshas, known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha help us maintain our overall well-being when balanced. However, when one or more of the doshas becomes imbalanced, physical and mental health issues arise, and disease can occur.
Vata governs movement — including heart rate, breathing, and mindset (including thoughts). As such, when Vata increases may manifest as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. You may notice that you may be waking at Vata dosha time of night. If you experience this, to calm your nervous system and to retrain your response from fight-flight to relax and restore.
How to Keep Vata Balanced and Healing Anxiety with Ayurveda
As spiritual beings having a human experience, each of us is gifted with something known as an emotional guidance system. This internal compass is meant to guide us through life so we can effectively process our emotions.
To access this internal system, we start by acknowledging what is. This means rather than ignoring what’s happening around us, or trying to pretend it isn’t real, instead, we fully acknowledge the current reality. This acknowledgment, in turn, allows us to fully process all our associated feelings.
Acknowledging what is will help you navigate life’s unexpected ebbs and flows — including pandemic and riot-related PTSD, without feeling stuck.
Practice diaphragmatic breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is also referred to as belly breathing. This type of breathing engages the diaphragmatic muscles. It’s known to help fill the lungs more efficiently and draw the practitioner into the present moment. As a result, we feel relaxed and grounded.
Benefits of diaphragm breathing include:
- Anxiety reduction
- Stress reduction
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
- Enables you to feel and be present
- Promotes relaxation
- Lie comfortably on a flat surface
- Support your head with a pillow
- Place one hand over your chest, and the other over your abdomen
- Breathe in slowly through your nose, notice how your abdomen rises as you inhale and lowers as you exhale
- Simply observe the abdomen as it rises and falls rhythmically
- Observe within your comfortable capacity
- Practice for 2-10 minutes.
To soothe Vata dosha and reduce anxiety, you can practice diaphragm breathing throughout the day as your schedule permits. Include diaphragmatic breathing as part of your morning and evening routine. You may practice a few other times in the day as well, or as often as needed. Relax your focus. No need to try to make anything happen or change anything. In time, with consistent practice, the breath will correct itself. Lay back and relax.
Limit screen time
According to research, overexposure to the news, social media, and technology, and general, can lead to anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies.
This is especially true as we live through the ongoing pandemic and are overly exposed to news stories about death, rising cases, and global restrictions.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to overexposure — unplugging. As a rule of thumb, aim to disconnect from technology (your phone, tablet, TV, computer, etc.) after 6 pm. Sleep with your phone out of arms reach so if you wake up in the middle of the night, you aren’t tempted to scroll through social media or read the latest news. Choose one day a week for a screen fast. During this time, take a walk outside, read a book, relax, and reconnect with yourself.
Ground yourself with dinachayra
Vata’s best friend is rhythm or routine. Dinacharya is a daily routine you follow that creates balance. Having a routine during times of stress and uncertainty is especially important because it soothes and grounds Vata which likes to keep moving.
Dinacharya should be customized to your specific needs. To learn more about the best dinacharya for your unique doshic constitution, consult with a Certified Ayurveda Pracittioner.
Here’s an example of what your daily routine might look like:
- Drink a warm glass of water with lemon upon waking to rehydrate and stimulate waste elimination
- Have a bowel movement
- Clean your tongue and brush your teeth to remove unwanted toxins
- Massage your gums with sesame oil to nourish and remove bacteria
- Practice abhyanga self-massage
- Enjoy our guided 2-minute meditation to create and carry a relaxed awareness with you throughout your day.
- Eat breakfast (choose seasonal foods as close to their natural state as possible)
- Pairing a healthy fat and protein can be calming.
Your daily routine sets the tone for your entire day. When you take care of yourself and prioritize your well-being, you will feel less stressed and more balanced and fortified.
Practice restorative yog-asana (postures)
Restorative yoga is a slower-paced, meditative yoga practice that allows you to ground your body, calm your mind, and focus on your breath while releasing tension. As opposed to quickly moving from posture to posture (as is commonly practiced in yoga), restorative yoga is about slowing down and coming in touch with your inner being through breath awareness or prana. It is particularly soothing for Vata because these slow, long movements encourage the regulation of internal movement (for which Vata is responsible).
To get started, try these 3 asanas:
1.) Bālāsana — also commonly referred to as Child’s Pose is a resting pose that closes the front body, and evokes feelings of being nurtured and protected. This pose stimulates mental and physical relaxation.
- To move into Child’s Pose, kneel on your yoga mat with your thighs apart
- Sink your buttocks to the heels of your feet
- Curl your spine and fold your body forward
- Draw your forehead down towards the ground
- Breathe deeply into the back of your body
- Extend your arms in front of your body
- Relax and observe the breath.
2.) Savāsana — also known as Corpse Pose, Savāsana is used to promote relaxation and stillness at the end of your restorative yoga practice. While in Savāsana, listen to our guided progressive relaxation.
3.) Viparita Karani – also known as Legs Up the Wall Pose, Viparita Karani calms the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety.
To practice Legs Up the Wall Pose lay on your back with the spine, neck, and head aligned.
- Move your legs up against the wall
- Place your hips about 6 inches from the wall or the distance that is comfortable for you
- Arms about 8 to 12 inches from your sides
- Stay in this position for as long as you are comfortable and relaxed.
- To release the pose, gently push away from the wall and bring your knees to your chest, roll to your left side, pause, keep connected to your relaxed state, and slowly come to a seated position.
This is a perfect pose to transition from the day to your dinner and evening.
Try calming nasya oil
What is nasya oil good for, and what are its benefits? Nasya oil supports our inner well-being and overall health. When you begin regular Nasya treatment, you’ll see the benefits right away. Nasya oil can be used to increase mental function, as preventative medicine, for better breathing, and for stress relief.
When your Prana is cleared through your breath, you’ll experience stress and tension melt away in your neck, jaw, head, and shoulders. Any energy that has been blocked will be released, and energy won’t be able to stagnate in these areas. Mental and emotional stress and anxious thoughts contribute to fading health and many unnecessary afflictions. Nasya oil can help balance these energies, so you feel energized and revitalized all day long.
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