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An Ayurvedic physician’s perspective on managing stress

How does Ayurveda define stress?

Stress is a hyperactive state of the mind and body in relation to the perceived environment one is experiencing. It is a state in which either the mind or body- and in some situations both- try to cope with the pace of events and struggle to feel a sense of ease or calm. The stressful situation lets the elemental forces or bio energies of vata (air and space) and pitta (water and fire) to rise in the body, creating various imbalances. 

In Ayurveda, all disease is expressed at the surface of ’Bhoomi Deha’ (land where we live) and ‘Shareera’ (our body). If either of these two suffers from disease, it will eventually spread to the other if care is not taken. The mental cravings and false knowledge, according to the Ayurvedic teachings, are what cause us to make potentially hazardous actions, which in turn manifest as physical illness. We must be wise with this strong resource that is our mind. Regardless of how a disease enters the body, it manifests itself through every aspect of existence: physical illness, mental deterioration, and emotional instability.

It is a well-known fact that while we cannot change the situation, we can change the way we see the situation; this is a very important aspect to recognise in any path of healing. Therefore, at Ananda we emphasise on an integrated approach. Herbal concoctions or therapeutic therapies on the physical body are as important as the time spent with a yogi in meditation, or with an emotional healer in reflection and introspection of your emotional patterns.

What is Ayurveda’s approach towards managing stress?

In Ayurveda, the three bio energies are explained as: Vata - governs the mobility and impulses in our body and mind, pitta - takes care of the overall energy and emotions attached to thought process, while kapha (earth and water) provides stability and nourishment. Under stress different dosha types tend to react differently, the vata predominant mind-set tends to get nervous and anxious, a pitta personality type tends to get aggressive, while people dominated by kapha choose to not handle such abrupt changes, they tend to procrastinate and get into a state of endless waiting, hence, stress commonly manifests as depression in a kapha personality. 

When a human being is on a work and action overdrive, exerting the physical body beyond normal usage, it doesn’t allow a favourable condition for the body to repair and nurture, in other words the kapha responsible for nourishment and rest, begins to deplete rapidly.