Ask the experts: How can Ayurveda help with stress?
We can all get caught up in life’s stresses from time to time. There are many holistic therapies out there that can support us, but here we want to focus on Ayurveda.
To learn more, Ayurvedic Yogic Practitioner Kim Kriyasagar answers our questions on how Ayurveda can help us cope with stress, naturally.
How can Ayurveda help with stress?
Can you explain what Ayurveda is?
Ayurveda, the traditional healthcare system of India, is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. Evolved from interconnected practical, philosophical, and spiritual illumination, Ayurveda suggests that each individual presents as a ‘microcosm of the macrocosm’, ‘as above so below, as within so without’.
Ayurveda translates to ‘knowledge of life’, which is the means of maintaining physiological, mental and spiritual balance. The manifest world recognises five elements which Ayurveda uses as building blocks, which, in combination, make up ‘doshas’. This is simply a concept to understand physiology with Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth).
Based on the idea that disease is due to imbalance and/or stress, Ayurveda offers natural lifestyle, dietary, bodywork and herbal remedy intervention, to support an individual’s unique dosha, to restore the balance of body, mind and spirit.
How can Ayurveda help us manage stress?
To survive the fast pace of modern living, Ayurveda recommends establishing self-care practises aligned with nature’s rhythms, to manage stress. These include the daily or ‘circadian’ rhythm, the monthly or ‘lunar cycle’, the seasonal cycle and using different lifestyle interventions at the various stages of our lives.
On a daily basis, regulating times for sleeping, waking, eating and eliminating counteracts physiological stress. Additionally, Ayurveda honours the ‘circadian rhythm’ by regulating ‘daily routines’ for personal hygiene, exercise, study/work, relaxation and reflection/meditation.
Although those cycling with menstruation may be more sensitive to hormonal changes, the lunar cycle affects all life forms. So paying attention to our individual responses to monthly moon phases could also be a way to support mental health. Similarly, paying attention to seasonal cycles offers variety in life with food, exercise, entertainment and relaxation, which supports joyful living and spirituality.
Do you have any other recommendations for managing stress naturally?
Spending time in nature is a natural antidote to stress. Similarly, paying attention to supporting our physical, mental and spiritual health develops a level playing field from which it becomes easier to ride the tsunamis that life may throw at us.
As we balance our lives more and more, we recover more quickly and efficiently from life’s waves, to become less susceptible to the long-term effects of inevitable stressors. By regulating and rebalancing our physiology on a daily, monthly and seasonal basis we reduce our negative response to stress. Then, instead of just surviving, we begin to thrive. This can lead to developing a natural way of enjoying an enhanced quality of life, which, in turn, improves immunity and the longer-term benefits of health and well-being.
Kim’s top tips for managing stress:
- Turn off electronics an hour before a regular bedtime.
- Take time to greet each new day with gratitude, delaying checking your phone.
- Learn how to apply supportive yogic breathing practices.