Anxiety is considered an imbalance of the vata dosha. When in balance, vata brings beautiful qualities to the mind: expansiveness, creativity, and adaptability.
When it’s increased or aggravated, it causes feelings and emotions of anxiety, fear, and nervousness. Accompanied by increased heart rate and breathing, anxiety is a full mind-body imbalance.
All things irregular will aggravate this mobile dosha, including irregular eating, unusual sleeping patterns, excessive exercise, dry and light foods, constant travel, and cold weather.
Many of us live extremely busy lives, so it’s no wonder why majority of people suffer from anxiety. But with the help of these four Ayurvedic tips, you can relieve anxiety and balance your vata dosha in no time!
Asana for anxiety should be slow, calming, and soothing. Loud music and quick flows between postures should be avoided, as these activities tend to aggravate vata. Slow hatha, yin, or restorative classes are ideal while hot yoga, vinyasa flow, and any kind of Power yoga are not.
Inversions are considered to revitalize the mind and should be woven into a regular yoga practice. Slow, deep breathing should be emphasized throughout the entire asana practice.
Pranayama is one of the best tools for aggravated vata. The flow of prana is actually one of the functions of vata in the body, so imagine what happens when vata goes out of balance. Re-establishing proper flow of prana will help to resolve and eradicate anxiety.
Nearly all pranayama practices are beneficial in the case of anxiety. Honeybee breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and ujjayi breathing are all excellent techniques to practice. Even simple deep belly breathing is helpful. More active forms of pranayama such as bhastrika and kapalabhati should be avoided until the anxiety has passed.
Anxiety is typically brought on by an irregular lifestyle, so adopting a general daily rhythm is a must. Regularity in meal times with lunch being the main meal and a sleep schedule that’s more or less between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. are ideal. Leave time for rest in the mid-afternoon when vata is naturally heightened.
Regular self-massage with warm sesame oil is the number one remedy against aggravated vata and its symptom of anxiety. Slow, rhythmic strokes with generous amounts of oil are extremely vata-pacifying.
A sattvic diet can help reduce anxiety because it promotes a more peaceful state of mind. This includes wholesome and fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Although raw food is presumed wholesome, it’s considered vata-aggravating and should be avoided when dealing with something such as anxiety. Vegetables should instead be steamed or better yet, sautéed and each of the meals you eat should be warm. Think comfort food: stew, soups, and one-pot meals.
Just as oil used externally is extremely vata-pacifying, so is the use of oil internally. A teaspoon of ghee or sesame, coconut or olive oil can be added into meals.
While all of theses guidelines are supportive measures, it’s best work with an Ayurvedic practitioner who can customize treatment for anxiety and its associated symptoms.