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Finding Balance Within: Ayurveda and Yoga for Mental Health is the Key

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medically reviewed by Dr Godmi Tresa

Dr. Bhavya

Updated on October 25, 2023

"Mental health is not a destination but a journey of self-discovery and self-care."

In today's fast-paced world, mental health is getting more attention than ever. The pressures of modern life, juggling personal and professional responsibilities, can often leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed.

"Your mental health is a priority. Don't forget to take care of yourself amidst the chaos."

- Demi Lovato

Ayurveda recognises that mental health is connected to the overall balance of our body and mind. It views mental health conditions as imbalances in the doshas, or energies, within us. Holistic mental healthcare has gained increasing popularity in recent years. By unlocking the power of Ayurveda and Yoga, individuals can cultivate self-care and a deeper understanding of themselves.

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Understanding Mental Health Conditions: Why Do You Need a Holistic Approach?

In today's world, mental health issues affect people from all walks of life. These conditions, like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, are becoming more common. The usual treatments only offer temporary relief by addressing the symptoms rather than the underlying causes.

Conventional treatments, such as psychiatric drugs, don't provide a cure for mental illnesses. Instead, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and psychodynamic therapy aim to help manage symptoms and provide short-term relief.

However, these medications can have different side effects for other individuals.

So what makes a holistic approach to mental health different from conventional treatments?

To truly improve our mental health, we must go beyond treating symptoms and focus on the root causes. This includes considering our lifestyle, emotional well-being, and body imbalances. Adopting a holistic perspective that takes care of our mind, body, and spirit is essential. By doing so, we can experience a renewed sense of energy and vitality!

AYURVEDA FOR MENTAL HEALTH: Cultivating Serenity And Balancing Mind

Ayurveda teaches us that the mind and body are closely connected, and optimal health can only be achieved when we balance this mind-body connection.

Have you ever noticed how your "emotionally weak" days can leave you feeling unwell? 

That's because of the mind-body connection! Emotional imbalances can weaken your body, while physical imbalances can also impact your mental health. It shows how closely linked our psychological and physical well-being genuinely are.

TRIGUNAS 

In Ayurveda, the concept of mental dosha plays a crucial role in balancing mental health. 

Mental dosha is related to the qualities of the mind and is called Trigunas - satwa, rajas and tamas. These three bioenergies influence our emotions, thoughts, responses and other mental faculties. When all three bioenergies are balanced, it helps in the optimal functioning of the mind.

  • TAMAS - Responsible for stagnation, inertia, sleep and heaviness
  • RAJAS - Associated with movement, energy, passion and stimulation.
  • SATWA- Give rise to purity, clarity, intelligence, and wisdom.

You might have read in our earlier blogs about the concept of "Prakruti," which refers to the unique body constitution determined by the balance of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas or bioenergies at birth. 

Just as we have a physical constitution, we also have a mental constitution characterised by the proportion of the three mental qualities or "gunas" - Satwa, Rajas, and Tamas.

Unlike the physical constitution, the mental constitution is not permanent / fixed. It can be affected by environment, diet, lifestyle etc. So, they change and evolve as time passes.

Choosing poor lifestyle practises and an unhealthy diet can vitiate your mental constitution by balancing the trigunas. Therefore, the role of digestion, diet, and lifestyle in holistic mental health treatment with Ayurveda is crucial.

They have the power to either support or disturb our mental constitution, highlighting the importance of mindful choices for maintaining overall well-being.

Satwavajaya cikitsa- Ayurvedic psychotherapy, also known as "Mind Control Therapy," encompasses a range of therapies that combine spiritual practices, psychological techniques, and modifications in diet and lifestyle. These techniques balance an individual's emotions, thoughts, and mind patterns.

The therapy includes:

  • Mantra therapy - The use of specific sounds, chants, or affirmations to influence and harmonise the mind.
  • Counselling.
  • Spiritual practices like Yoga.
  • Meditation - Engaging in focused and contemplative practices to calm the mind, enhance self-awareness, and promote emotional balance.

Unlocking the therapeutic power of yoga-the journey to mental wellness

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Yoga is an art of living - The key to self-discovery and inner transformation. Yoga incorporates breathwork, physical postures, and meditation, offering a holistic approach to nurturing your mind, body and spirit to a better version of your inner self.

Yoga goes beyond breathing exercises and body stretching; it encompasses ancient therapeutic wisdom that beautifully complements Ayurveda's holistic approach to mental wellness and physical balance.

  • Physically, practising Yoga improves strength, flexibility, and overall vitality while promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being.
  • Mentally, Yoga enhances focus, concentration, and mindfulness, allowing for more excellent emotional stability and serenity.
  • Emotionally, Yoga helps individuals cultivate self-love through self-acceptance, compassion, and inner transformation. It provides a pathway to developing a deeper connection with oneself and finding inner peace.

Ayurveda yoga experts at Nirva Health suggest specific yoga postures and pranayama that are targeted to offer mental well-being.

  • Child's Pose (Balasana)
  • Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
  • Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) 
  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
  • Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
  • Bhramari (Bumblebee Breath)

Take a step towards mental wellness

Yoga and Ayurveda understand the interconnectedness of your body, mind and soul. Improving mental health by embracing the holistic approach of Ayurveda and Yoga -these complementary approaches offer you a healthy body and mind.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Establishing a consistent daily routine can improve overall well-being and provide stability.
  • Daily exercise/ physical activity can help you improve mental clarity and stress management and provide physical strength.

Diet and Nutrition

  • Indulge in pure(sattvic) foods, fresh and seasonal, that can impart positive energy to your body. 
  • Include easily digestible and light foods.
  • Plan a nutrient-rich diet that helps improve the production of neurotransmitters that helps in promoting a healthy gut-brain connection.   

Meditation and Mindfulness

  • Practising meditation and mindfulness can help in reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Various meditation techniques like breath awareness can help you cultivate a sense of inner peace and compassion.
  • Consistency in practising meditation and mindfulness is the key to rewiring your brain.   

Yoga and Pranayama

  • Yoga and pranayama help in reducing stress and improving cognitive functions.
  • It creates a powerful synergy that can boost energy levels and uplift your mood, imparting a calming effect and a sense of well-being.

Get connected with Nirva Health experts to get your personalised yoga plan.

Ayurvedic herbs and remedies

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Here are a few herbs that are well-known for their mental health benefits:

  1. ASHWAGANDHA-Withania somnifera
  2. BRAHMI-Bacopa monnieri
  3. JATAMANSI-spikenard/Nardostachys jatamansi
  4. TULSI-Holy basil
  5. SHANKHPUSHPI-Convolvulus prostratus
  6. YASHTI MADHU-liquorice/ Glycyrrhiza glabra

Integrating ayurveda and yoga with conventional treatments

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Integrating Ayurveda, Yoga, and conventional medicine enhances the effectiveness of medication and therapy.

The combined approach offers balanced and effective outcomes for mental health. This collaboration helps develop a personalised and holistic approach to mental conditions like depression.

Ayurvedic dietary recommendations, lifestyle modifications, and herbal remedies can support the body's healing process and enhance the response to medication. Yoga practices, such as breathwork, physical postures, and meditation, offer improved stress management, relaxation, and better mental and emotional.

CONCLUSION

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Ayurveda and Yoga offer numerous benefits for mental health. They complement each other by addressing root causes and promoting overall well-being rather than just managing symptoms.

Ayurveda recognises individual uniqueness, providing personalised recommendations based on constitution and imbalances. Both Ayurveda and Yoga offer practical techniques for managing stress and promoting relaxation. These practices help develop emotional balance, positive emotions, and self-acceptance.

Ayurveda and Yoga encourage self-awareness and mindfulness, enhancing emotional balance and inner clarity. They also improve physical health, supporting the mind-body connection and positively impacting mental well-being.

It is essential to seek guidance from qualified Ayurvedic and Yoga practitioners who can provide individualised treatment plans to ensure a safe and effective approach.

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