According to Ayurveda, calming, and soothing the nervous system is a requirement for the maintenance and balancing of one’s health (1). Here in the U.S., Ayurveda isn’t quite as well-known among the mainstream population, and when it does come up, it’s most mostly in the context of food.
Ayurveda is a holistic lifestyle, with a lot more to offer than just helpful tips on how to eat. In fact, Ayurvedic practices can be especially helpful when managing stress (2). When the nervous system is overwhelmed or under excess stress, the body is designed to adapt and compensate for this stress—but only for short periods of time. Excessive stress, which seems to be the new normal in today’s culture, can easily overwhelm, breakdown, and prematurely age the body.
Life in the modern day comes with its share of luxuries and perils. While the quality of life seems to have improved, the accompanying stress tends to gradually pile up over the course of several work days. Ayurveda and yoga is a powerful combination to combat stress and lead a peaceful life.
There are numerous time-tested Ayurvedic techniques to balance your mind.
1. Mindfulness Practices
It takes both time and focused attention to re-pattern the mind, and daily practice is one of the best ways to ensure your success. Remarkably, as little as fifteen minutes per day is enough to be transformative, and committing to a daily practice will deliver results rather quickly.
Meditation has been shown in numerous studies to rebuild, support, and strengthen the nervous system. Research has shown that meditation can increase the length of the telomeres in the body, which are linked to optimal health and longevity (3).
2. Breathing Exercises
The practice of breathing exercises aimed at balancing the movement of prana throughout the system can be quite a potent means of calming feelings of anxiousness. Examples of these are Sheetkari Pranayama, Supta Konasana, and Ujjayi.
In general, breathing exercises help to restore fluidity and vitality to the subtle energy channels of the body, release accumulated tension, and offer deep support to the mind and the nervous system (4).
They also activate and balance many of the most significant subtle channels influencing the mind.
3. Daily Routine
A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. It regularizes a person’s biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity (5).
The routine itself has a very grounding and stabilizing effect on the system; it creates a number of familiar and comforting reference points throughout each day that sends a resounding affirmation to the deep tissues of the body that all is well, that we can be at ease.
Yoga positively impacts the mind in very similar ways. It moves prana in the body, helps to dissipate tension, clears stagnation, and encourages fluidity throughout the tissues, the subtle body, and the mind. Yoga has been found to support the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid, which both lubricates and washes the brain and central nervous system (6).
5. Nature Therapy
According to Ayurveda, getting outside and being in nature increases ojas in the body. Ojas is the substance in the body that is believed to be responsible for vitality, immunity, and a radiant and glowing complexion. In Western science, it is thought that ojas may be a combination of certain neurotransmitters, hormones such as oxytocin (7).
6. Daily Massage
Ayurveda suggests giving yourself a daily oil massage, which can be done either before or during a shower. The oil is traditionally blended with herbs as a natural food supply for the skin microbiome, or the microbes that live on your skin (8).
7. Eating Relaxed
According to Ayurveda, how, when, and what you eat all play roles in supporting the nervous system and the ability to stay calm. Eating in a relaxed manner activates the calming and soothing parasympathetic nervous system while eating on the run or under stress activates the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system (9).
Stress of all kinds, whether it is mental, emotional, physical or even spiritual, can have a negative impact on one’s health. Modern medicine doesn’t have much to offer those who are under stress, other than tranquilizers, antidepressants, or perhaps a recommendation to exercise. Fortunately, yoga and Ayurveda have many tools to safely lower stress levels, shift the balance of the nervous system toward relaxation, and ground the restless spirit.