Ayurveda For Mental Health: How To Use It For Calm & Clarity

Ayurvedic counselor By Angelica Neri, ERYT-500
Ayurvedic counselor
Angelica Neri, an Intuitive Vedic Healer, is the co-founder of Soulfull Veda. Her deep knowledge of the Vedas comes from studying as an Ayurvedic Practitioner, ERYT-500 hr kundalini and meditation instructor and Reiki Master, as well as experience leading multiple yoga teacher training programs and retreats.
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Ayurveda helps us eliminate imbalances, live according to our true nature, and align our mind, body, and soul. But what does the ancient practice have to say specifically about our mind? The part of us that always has something to say, that wrestles with emotions, that holds onto subconscious beliefs that are simply untrue?

In an age when deconstructing limiting beliefs and exploring our subconscious mind is essential, can Ayurvedic principles help lead the way?

I recently got curious about this topic with one of my teachers, oriental medicine and Ayurveda expert Claudia Welch, DOM. During an interview for my podcast, Welch explained that in ancient Ayurveda texts, there are three channels of the body that are connected to the mind: pranavaha, rasavaha, and manovaha srota. (Srota means "channels.")

In bringing these three channels into harmony physically and externally, we can bring harmony to the mind. Here's how it's done.

What is pranavaha srota?

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This channel carries vital breath to the lungs and respiratory system. On a physical level, we can heal this channel by being mindful of what smells we are taking in like avoiding harsh chemicals and polluted environments.

On an energetic level, we can heal this channel by breathing more mindfully. The patterns of our breath often mirror the landscapes of our minds. And the more we choose to breathe in a conscious way, using either yogic breathing techniques or simple deep breaths, the more we start to calm the fluctuations of the mind. 

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What is rasavaha srota?

This channel carries the sweet juice of the body—the chyle, chyme, and plasma. Physically, the timeless practice of abhyanga, Ayurvedic self-massage, can directly affect this channel by detoxifying and nourishing the tissues of the body.

Energetically, we can heal this channel by quite literally stopping to smell the roses and sipping the sweet nectar from our cup of infinite potential. The more we express our gratitude for how beautiful our life is exactly in this present moment, the sweeter our rasavaha becomes.

What is manovaha srota?

This channel is directly related to the mind. Overwhelm, frustration, anger, dullness, and depression are all associated with this channel. On a physical level, herbs like ashwagandha can help calm the nervous system and assist in healing our manovaha srota.

Energetically, a meditation practice can calm the fluctuations of the mind and bring us back to our soul's essence.

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How these channels relate to the heart & mind.

How come there is no direct mention of the kinds of thoughts each of us has in this framework? For an explanation, Welch says we can look to this quote from ancient Indian physician Sushruta: "For matters that are only touched on in these treatises and are expounded on elsewhere, you have to go to that elsewhere to find out the full picture."

Could it be that the wise scholars and ancient rishis of Ayurveda knew that the best way to heal the mind is to heal the heart? Could it be that they wanted to preserve Ayurveda as an empowering science and trust us to fill in the rest?

One thing that's for sure is that all of these channels run to every part of the body and also have a root in the heart. Maybe, going elsewhere is really just taking the expansive trip back to the infinite potential of the heart.

The bottom line.

Every practice we do to heal pranavaha, rasavaha, and manovaha—be it breathwork, meditation, or expressing gratitude—all heal the heart. And when we heal the heart, we just might have the power to heal any imbalance of the body, soul, and mind.

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