A Calming Ayurvedic Routine For Easing Anxiety & Living In The Present
Megan Fahey, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian, Functional Medicine Nutritionist and Registered Yoga Teacher. She holds her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Bastyr University, where she was trained to artfully blend eastern and western healing modalities.
In ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old medical system from India, anxiety is a symptom of a dosha imbalance in the mind. The vata dosha is fixed on the future while the pitta dosha is acutely present, and the kapha dosha lies in the past. Since anxiety happens when we are disconnected from the present moment and instead engaged in thought loops focusing on the future, it's often the result of too much vata. Here's how to get your vata back in balance in order to feel less stressed and more creative, imaginative, intuitive, and free-flowing.
How to manage your anxiety by balancing vata.
Counterbalancing excess vata in the body is all about grounding your energy. If you're familiar with the chakra system, think about connecting to your lower chakras: the root and sacral. We need to root our physical body into the earth and reconnect to what is happening around us rather than what is happening in the mind. This three-step process can help:
Step 1: Increase pitta.
To increase pitta (fire), rev up agni, the Sanskrit term for your digestive fire. Ayurveda teaches that the body not only digests food but also digests thoughts, emotions, and experiences. When our digestion is weak, we have a more difficult time processing all that life throws at us.
To help manage the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of anxiety, heat up that fire in your belly. This can be accomplished through the diet by eating warm, easily digested food prepared with stimulating spices such as ginger, cumin, fennel, and coriander. Avoid raw, cold foods, which actually increase that light, airy vata energy. Instead of your usual smoothie and salad routine, opt for a warming breakfast and cooked lunch inclusive of the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent).
Step 2: Increase kapha.
To increase kapha (earth), establish a set routine. It is taxing for your nervous system to manage the stress of a chaotic routine (e.g., eating, sleeping, and exercising at different times each day). Adapting a routine acts to ground and stabilize the body, which will counterbalance anxiety-inducing vata.
When creating a routine, focus on the importance of doing one task at a time. Relax the nervous system by clearing out your busy schedule and prioritizing sleep, which is a time when the mind can detoxify from negative emotion. To really enhance kapha, try walking barefoot in nature.
Step 3: Increase gratitude.
We often become anxious because of our never-ending to-do lists. The next time this happens, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, "Would I want it any other way?" Would you rather not have emails to respond to? Would you rather not have kids to pick up? Would you rather not have electricity and gas? Shift your perspective to see that most items on that to-do list are truly blessings. We are so lucky to live lives full of abundance, meaning, friendships, and opportunity. To have a full life is to be full of life.
Once you check off these three steps, you'll be much closer to balancing the three doshas and achieving a calm mind that is rooted in the present moment.