To attain complete health according to Ayurveda, you need to maintain a perfect balance of mind, body and soul, which is why more people today look to take a mental health ayurvedic approach with a focus on natural solutions. The global pandemic not only affected everyone around the world physically, as work at home, loss of work or fewer work hours and restricted travel became the norm it took a toll on people’s mental health as well.
What is Ayurveda?
Bearing the honour of being identified as the most ancient science of life or systems of medicine, Ayurveda focusses on bringing about rhythm within a person’s natural forces which compliments and strengthens, as it understands individual psyche. It takes a holistic approach involving practical daily activities, which work steadily to bring changes to a person’s mental outlook and physical health. Mood fluctuations are an unavoidable part of our lives and to help create less fluctuations it is important to understand our individual minds by understanding our bodies and where our vulnerabilities lie.
Mental Health Through the Lens of Ayurveda
In Ayurveda it is understood that emotional or mental health issues as well as disease can occur when there is an imbalance between the three key elements mentioned previously. The ancient Ayurvedic texts describe the mind or ‘manas’ as having three guna – Satwa (Balance), Raja (Arrogance) and Tama (Indolence). When there is an imbalance of either tamas or rajas, it creates reactive tendencies or negative feelings in the mind which leads to an emotional imbalance. These energies are called ‘doshas of mind’ while the tridosha are the elements of vata, pitta and kapha.
Vata imbalance causes anxiety and phobias, Pitta cases anger and obsessions while Kapha imbalance can lead to depression anxiety. Further issues include neurosis and insomnia which affect a person’s mental wellbeing and have long term adverse effects if these doshas are allowed accumulate and not driven out. Ayurveda takes an assessment of psychological factors such as lifestyle, work and current stressors, to determine where the imbalance has occurred.
Ayurveda vs. Allopathy
Ayurveda is a qualitative holistic science of life, a philosophy based on a comprehensive understanding of a person’s mind and body in order to successfully heal. Alternatively, there is allopathy which is focused more on using remedies such as drugs or in some cases surgery to produce results that are different to the effect caused by the disease being treated. Medicinal drugs are prescribed to treat mental health issues for quick results.
Ayurvedic practitioners instead work towards balancing the imbalance with treatment taking a holistic approach. For mental health issues, Ayurveda recommends traditional dietary and lifestyle habits for a complete approach to mental wellbeing. Through easy to incorporate habits it treats not only the physical and psychological problems, but also brings about a healthy lifestyle change for the person to avoid as far as possible future health issues.
Allopathy works to change the symptoms of the illness while Ayurveda stands by the core belief that a healthy mind is the most important factor to a person’s life force and health. This is why it continuously explores the relationship between the mind, body and soul and recommends treatments that help retain that strong relationship balance.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Mental Health
Ayurveda places importance of focussing on mental wellbeing by establishing a routine and eating food that suit a person’s individual body requirements based on vata pitta. Being in tune with the whole is vital according to Ayurvedic teachings, which is why it is today considered as an alternative or complementary care treatment for mental illness.
Below are some of the approaches used in Ayurveda practices to create and promote a complete journey towards wellness and mental wellbeing. Routine is thoroughly advocated in Ayurveda as it creates a pattern that allows for less distractions and helps the mind to instead focus on the positives of a wellness routine.
Exercise – It is essential as a means for the body to detox and kindle agni, our digestive fire which improves digestion, circulation, elimination, lymphatic flow and further releases stress which clears stagnant mental and emotional energy, promoting a sense of wellbeing and relaxation. A fitness routine also helps ground us while energizing us, mind, body and soul.
Yoga – Yoga and Ayurveda are mutually supportive systems of health, spirituality, and well-being, stemming from the same Vedic teachings. Both focus on utilising the power of being in tune with our bodies and life force while yoga focusses on physical movement and the stretching of our bodies in sync with our breathing to quieten the mind. Certain yoga poses can impact different dosha and aid with digestion.
Meditation – Meditation is considered an effective way to promote wellbeing and control anxiety, depression as it helps rewire the brain. Incorporating time for meditation also helps bring structure to your day and bring balance to the mind for self-realisation and awareness. There are different types of meditations available for the different types of dosha.
Ayurvedic diet – This is a meal plan that is based on the ancient principles of Ayurveda with a focus on eating based on your dosha or body type which is also believed to help with weight loss and support mindfulness. It consists of natural and fresh foods that are easy to digest such as fruits, vegetable and whole grains and lentils and food that is not overly spicey. It encourages avoiding processed food and junk food.
Herbs and oils – These provide a form of cleansing and healing by application or massaging with herbs and therapeutic oils that promote a sense of wellbeing for the mind body and soul.
Ayurvedic medication – Be it physical or mental, Ayurvedic medicine provides a holistic change in a patient. It works together with recommended lifestyle routines including Ayurvedic dietary habits, herbal treatments and yoga and meditation for a complete healing process and preventive measure.
The ancient teachings of Ayurveda have proved their timeless quality and relevance even in our modern world, providing us with a natural way to treat physical and mental health conditions. Speak to an experienced ayurvedic professional to start you on the correct sustainable wellness journey for you, so that you truly experience a holistic healing experience.