An Ayurvedic View on Stress
by Dr. Vikas Gupta - Indian Medicine and Lifestyle Consultant
Ayurveda is an ancient, intuitive science based on the observation of nature. It is a 5000 years old holistic healing system of Medicine that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India, but its principles can be applied to meet the needs of any individual of any cultural background.
The word Ayurveda translates to mean “Knowledge of Life”.
The science of Ayurveda provides insight in how to understand your individual constitution, how to listen your body to determine its response to stress, food, weather changes and other internal and external conditions that can cause your system to go out of balance and how to learn when it is necessary to change or moderate your nutrition or lifestyle in order to adjust to your own changing physical and emotional needs.
What are the benefits of practicing Ayurvedic rituals?
It offers the perfect balanced approach to nutritional health and fitness. It is a science that provides a sense of longevity by preventing diseases and preservation of good health forever. Moderation is the key as Ayurvedic medicine as well as slight modifications in lifestyle and diet patterns enable us to remain healthy.
According to Ayurvedic principles every person must be evaluated individually, as every human constitution manifests its own particular and spontaneous temperament and functioning.
What are the negative effects stresses can have on body and wellbeing?
According to Charak Samhita (an ancient Ayurveda text book of medicine), lack of ability to deal with stress is due to an imbalance of the three main mental functions, called dhi (learning), dhriti (retention), and smriti (long-term memory). Ayurveda Medicine offers many recommendations for strengthening these mental functions, and thus gives the person more resilience to stress.
When there is stress, there is an imbalance of Vata-Pitta-Kapha (doshas).
Stress directly affects basic vital body tissue (Dhatus). Health of basic vital tissues can be maintained by taking steps to keep Vata-Piita-Kapha in balance through a proper nutrition, lifestyle and rejuvenation programs.
How can learning about Ayurveda help manage stress day-to-day?
Following the Ayurvedic daily routine is probably the most important thing you can do to prevent any kind of stress.
An Ayurvedic morning routine includes waking up early and starting the day with a brisk morning walk and deep breathing in nature to energize the body and to bring fresh air to the body cells so that they can revitalize themselves. Also an Abhyanga or self body massage not only removes toxins from the body but also stimulates vital tissues (dhatus) and enlivens the flow of intelligence in the body. Breakfast only if you feel hungry, lunch as the largest meal and dinner as the lightest meal of the day, further aid in this process
How can discovering our Dosha benefit you in terms of health and wellbeing?
Ayurveda is unique in its ability to explain how to determine your own constitutional type or Dosha analysis and then use that knowledge in combination with an understanding of your physical and emotional imbalances to keep you, as an individual, in your particular life style, as healthy and fit as you can possible be.
Discovering ones unique Dosha determines the particular physical and emotional characteristics or qualities that dominate each individual’s body and mind.
The three Doshas govern all the biological, psychological and physiological functions of the body, mind and consciousness. They act as basic constituents and protective barriers for the body in its normal physiological conditions and when out of balance they contribute to the disease process.
By knowing your constitutional type, you will gain insight into how to respond to stress, weather, even different times of the day and you will able to understand how all these factors affect you. Basic principle of healing in Ayurveda holds that you may create a Dosha balance by altering diet and lifestyle to counteract the changes in your external environment.
Specific treatments or therapies to counterbalance stress and anxiety
The Samshodhana Chikitsa of Ayurveda, which also includes Panchakarma, basically indents to detoxify the body, reduce stress and enhance the immunity of the body. Ayurveda therapies work on both the physical and psychological levels to invigorate, relax and ease pain, stiffness, soothing muscles, boost circulation and alleviate mental stress, fostering balance and serenity.
Following procedures are specialized varieties of Snehana and Swedana, which have more nutritive/nourishing effects than bio cleansing or depleting effects.
Such treatments are:
- Shashtika shali pinda sweda
5 tips to manage stress with the help of Ayurveda in your daily lives:
- Me time: Even when you feel that you have no time, give yourself some time out. Create this space as you see fit (mediation, sport, sleep etc). So your recreations, fun activity, rest, or down time becomes medicinal and will make you feel so fresh and enlivened.
- Mindful exercise: Ayurveda supports the self-care principle of not over-exercising, so to use up only half of our total individual energy, and conserve the rest. Try to do low impact enjoyable form of exercise. A 20 minutes morning walk, for example, can put you in touch with yourselves and the environment, which also helps reset mental rhythmic pattern.
- Observe in & around: Take a walk outside or around your area, gaze out your window at the clouds or trees swaying in the breeze, or sit quietly and simply close your eyes for a few minutes and give your body a little rest. This uplifts your mind for the entire day.
- Eat Well: Eat each and every thing, but in moderation, neither too much nor too less as per your constitution. Seasonal fruits and vegetables nourish your body and are proven to reduce stress.
- Sleep Well: Ayurveda says eat a light, well-cooked early dinner before 7 pm and also engage in some relaxing activities such as an easy walk or listening to music after a meal. This will prepare your body and mind for proper sleep. Try to go to bed around the same time daily. A 5 minutes meditation in bed also enhances a healthy sleep pattern.
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