Natural Relief from Everyday Tension
Are you one of the many people that finds yourself coping with, trudging through, struggling to manage, or recovering from occasional feelings of anxiousness or worry? You are not alone in your plight. Many of us experience worry and tension at some point in our lives. For some, it is a daily occurrence. Who knows — maybe the wind blew wrong that day; for others, it comes with travel; and for some, it’s a school exam or deadline at work that causes us to worry.
Help is available, without side effects… Ayurveda, although ancient, has much to offer to help balance our modern, busy lives and bring us back to a natural state of calm.
Vata is the ayurvedic mind/body operator that governs flow and movement in the mind and body — the movement of thoughts across our minds; memory; food moving through our digestive tract; elimination of wastes; the flow of our blood; and our breath. Made up of air and space, it’s out there… When we experience a flux of movement, as in overthinking things, mind racing, traveling, or cramming for an exam or project — or eat a Vata-aggravating diet (more on this later) — our Vata can lose balance. We may experience general worry, that awful feeling of “impending doom;” or we’re spaced out, flighty, and forgetful; or it may manifest as something within our physiology such as occasional constipation, which is our body halting the excess movement by creating a lack of movement.
If your daily schedule is all over the place, this creates even more flux and movement in your day-to-day life. So one of our top tips for steadying the sway of your feelings is to ground yourself physically. Create a schedule that works with your life, and stick to it more often than not. Ayurveda recommends sleeping with the stars (head to bed before 10:00 p.m.), waking with the sun (ideally around 6:00 a.m.), and eating meals at the same time each day. Lunch should be the main meal of the day; breakfast and dinner should be smaller meals that are easy to digest… (more on that to come; keep reading).
Give Yourself a Rest
The routine that your body is craving starts the night before the good day ahead. If we are worried, anxious, or are planning our "to-do" list and thinking about tomorrow’s test or early flight when we hit the sack — we recommend the herbal formula Worry Free one or two hours before bed and Blissful Sleep at least one hour before bed. Formulated for those who have trouble falling asleep, Blissful Sleep is the go-to when you need a good night’s sleep. Worry Free is one of our strongest Vata-balancing formulas!
Add Healing Power to Your Water
Yes, yes, yes, we know that drinking plenty of water each day is a healthy recommendation. However, if the water you drink is cold… or — don’t say it — iced!, you could actually be impeding the natural flow of movement in your body. Our digestive fire aids transformation in our bodies, including digestion of our food, and the ability to burn through anything emotionally or physically requires fire, balanced digestion. Agni, as it is called in ayurveda — our deep-seated digestive fire — thrives when we nourish its natural temperature, which is warm. Think fire. So when we douse the flames of the fire with cold fluids, or by overeating, we are creating more work for our bodies to try to digest what we are putting into them.
Try drinking a cup of warm water first thing in the morning (add this into that amazing Vata-balancing routine that we mentioned earlier).
Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf explains, “From the ayurvedic point of view, water is just earth and water. But if you boil it you get air, space, and fire elements. So you have a balance of all five elements. Boiling water for five minutes will be more cleansing and balancing for your body.”
Put your powerful “balancing” water into a thermos and sip it throughout the day, to support digestion and keep Vata strong and even. If you don’t have a thermos, or the routine of boiling water in the morning is too much, reach for room-temperature water when possible, and order “water with no ice” when you are out to eat. If your office has a water cooler, try mixing the hot and cold water to create a perfect lukewarm mix. If you are traveling, you’ll be able to find hot or warm water in most coffee shops or gas stations. There are many great stainless steel travel bottles available now, and a few manufacturers make low-profile insulated ones. Alan Marks, our CEO, travels all over the world with his MIZU thermos!
Eat These Three Tastes
Ayurveda considers food as medicine. It places all food into the categories of the Six Tastes of Ayurveda: sweet, sour, salty, pungent (spicy), bitter, and astringent (drying). Eating airy foods such as beans, eggplant, corn, peanuts (just say “no thank you” to in-flight peanuts), or raw fruits and vegetables can replicate that feeling within — the increase of Vata. Often one of the first things we notice is gas or bloating, or even occasional constipation. The “air-ness” may also contribute to worry or spaciness.
To cultivate a grounding quality to the food we eat, favor well-cooked meals and these flavors: sweet, sour, salty. Sweet? Oh yeah! Eat your healthy sweets such as well-cooked beets; figs; juicy fruits such as peaches, sweet grapes, mango, or cherries; raisins and dates; or natural sugars such as honey or raw cane sugar. Foods that taste sour are those that make us pucker just thinking about them: lemon (try drinking warm lemon water in the morning), yogurt, buttermilk, and banana. Salty foods: not potato chips and salted pretzels, but the salty taste found in any salt such as sea salt and rock salt; and foods with added salt such as nuts, breads and soups.
Ayurveda considers our gut to be our second brain. There is a reason we have "gut" feelings. What is happening in our intestinal tract directly affects our emotional state. If you tend toward Vata emotions, start a food diary and pay attention to how you feel after eating. A simple change to having our main meal at lunch and eating more well-cooked foods can surprisingly change our emotional state.
Abhyanga, or ayurvedic oil massage, has many implications — check out Abhyanga: A Pleasant Prescription for Mind/Body Health to learn even more. All of these hold true, especially when it comes to balancing Vata, or movement. Organic Sesame Oil is an ayurvedic favorite due to its healing qualities. It is said to gently create heaviness, which can be “snake oil” when your mind is racing, and you are up in the air. It can also work wonders for dry skin, which often accompanies excess movement. Imagine the feeling of wind gusts drying out your skin. On travel days or days of big projects or exams, abhyanga is a wonderful practice to prime your body and mind for the task ahead. Whether you practice abhyanga every day or you are new to the practice, follow our step-by-step instructions in this video for this soothing ayurvedic favorite practice.
The nose is said to be the gateway to the brain. Tension and worry are all in our heads. So what better way to soothe the mind than going straight to the source. Nasya, or nasal oil administration, is the practice of using sesame oil internally, straight up the nose! Just as the skin may be dried out from excess wind, our nasal passages may be dry, chapped, or inflamed. To do nasya, place sesame oil on the tip of your finger, and then with a sniff, take the oil into your nose, rubbing in the excess oil around your nostrils, which may also be dry. Or for convenient administration of nasya oil, try our Organic Clear & Soothe Nasal Spray, made with herbalized sesame oil. The easy-to-use applicator allows you to gently spray oil into your nasal passages. This practice is best done lying down with the head tilted back slightly, and resting for a few minutes after nasal administration. This is a great product to have on hand while you are flying! Add a little oil to your nose during your flight or afterward to help soothe dryness and protect nasal passages from airborne toxins.
Let it Go
Ayurveda often recommends various types of yoga, depending on your unique constitution. (Not sure about your constitution? Take our Dosha Quiz to learn more!) On days when we are feeling worried or tense, gentle yoga can bring us back to our calm selves, whereas fast-paced, quick yoga can often heighten our feelings of spaciness or stress. If you are stressed out in your day, the yoga mat is not the place to add in even more stress — it’s the place to do just the opposite: find relief from stress. Let go of the idea that yoga is a workout and think of it as a “work in.” Try a gentle yoga class — Yin, Restorative, or slow flow are wonderful practices to create a sense of feeling grounded and connected. Your body will thank you!
Our founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, brought Transcendental Meditation® to the world to help each of us on our paths towards connecting with our true selves. When we take the time to actively restore our minds through meditation, we are creating a familiar and calm space in which we can truly let go of things that are no longer serving us. The practice of Transcendental Meditation, 20 minutes twice a day, has that capability to not only allow us to let go of our stress, but the ability to cultivate a resistance to daily stress as well.
To learn more about TM or to find a meditation teacher near you, visit www.tm.org.
Add in Herbals
One of the up-and-coming “it” herbs in health and wellness, Ashwagandha has long been a favorite in ayurveda. Ashwagandha is a powerful Stress Management™ single herb, which fortifies the body’s natural resistance to stress and promotes general well-being.
Touted as the herbal formula for relieving feelings of occasional anxiety, Worry Free is for Worry Management™. Just two tablets can help create the calm that you need just before a flight or a major exam!
For an instant calming of excess movement in our bodies, we highly recommend Organic Calming Vata Tea. It’s the perfect pre-flight or exam cocktail!
With the practice of self-love, tension and worry can be a thing of the past. Go slow, take these recommendations one step at a time, start with what resonates the most, and be patient as you take the steps, with the help of ayurveda, towards balancing your modern, busy life back to a natural, calm state.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.