Mental Health and Ayurveda

Mental Health and Ayurveda

We are familiar with the three doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha, that govern the proper functioning of the body. The tridoshic balance in our bodies is responsible for maintaining good holistic health of any individual that includes his/her physical, mental & spiritual well being.

Over the years, especially in the hustle and bustle of the modern daily life, mental health has taken the front seat that directly correlates with our physical state of health. The WHO states that, “There is no health without mental health.”

Such has also been outlined in Ayurvedic scriptures that were written over 5,000 years ago. That is why, Ayurveda includes Yoga, a somatic and a psychosomatic practice that helps in healing of the body and mind, and connects us with the spirit.

How vitiated or an imbalance in doshas affects the mental health of a person?

  1. Vitiated Vata (a combination of space and air) causes instability in the mind. It leads to nervousness, anxiety & fear. If the imbalance persists then these symptoms can develop into depression, hypertension, high blood pressure, dry constipation, and chronic pain in any part of the body, particularly in the joints and bones.
  1. Vitiated Pitta (a combination of fire and water) causes excess heat generation in the body that can develop into anger, aggression & insomnia. Pitta disturbances exhibit themselves as over-ambition, over-exhaustion and eventually depression of a violent kind, where a person may resort to verbal or physical abuse, alcohol, addictions of any other kind and/or self harm.
  1. Vitiated Kapha (a combination of water and earth) causes lethargy, sluggishness, greed, and lust. Excessive sleeping and delay in eating meals, less exercise are symptoms of such a condition and can further aggravate it. One’s mental acuity becomes dim, and they may get bouts of feelings of worthlessness and mental exhaustion.

 How to cope with doshic imbalance & boost mental health?

  1. Eat right for your body type: Selecting the foods that we eat according to our Prakritis can help in maintaining a healthy body and mind. It is when we eat against our prakriti (body constitution) that we face problems of acidity, indigestion, constipation, gas etc. These also cause mental disturbances.
  1. Use of Ayurvedic herbs such as Brahmi, Shankhpushpi and Ashwagandha in your diet help in relaxation of the nervous system, rejuvenation, stress management and help in avoiding symptoms of depression and anxiety. A cup of Ratri Chai is an excellent choice to uplift your mood and avoid SAD (seasonal affected disorder).
  1. Exercise right: Just like eating right for your body type is important, similarly exercising right for your body type is important. For example, practice of meditative breath and movement, such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong is great for Vata types, whereas averagely timed sessions of cardio and stretching is good for Pitta people, and intense workout sessions and long distance running is suited for Kapha types.
  1. Tailor make your routines suited to your body type: Have a routine that suits you! Each person requires a certain number of hours of sleep, has a different time for meals, pursues a different set of hobbies, and has a unique style of working. Design your routine to suit your needs and help you accomplish your healthy living goals.

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