Ayurveda’s holistic approach to mental health
The pandemic that rattled the world has really instilled fear among us about our emotional and physical well-being and has also resulted in a mental health crisis, globally. Anxiousness about jobs, the economy, politics, and climate change et al is also on the rise and this affects mental health. Deteriorating mental health impacts immunity and we at Ayush can definitely help you, assures Dr. Ajith Kumar, Director of Ayush Ayurveda, Singapore.
Ayurveda gives you a lot of guidelines to manage mental stress. This holistic science defines health as Swasthya or in other words it aims at the equilibrium of the three doshas (Kapha, Pitta, Vata), digestive fire, excretions and keeping the organs and mind in a state of bliss, enlightens the Ayurvedic physician at Ayush, Singapore.
Focus of Ayurveda
Throwing light on how Ayurveda approaches mental health, Dr. Ajith Kumar informs that mental health is referred to as Manas Shastra and the system focuses more on prevention and gentle intervention. We will never stigmatize mental health; instead, a patient is given more assurance and encouragement.
Continuing on the same lines, Dr. Ajith reveals that Ayurveda understands that we are not in the same frame of mind all the time. It is a high and low cycle of lethargy, productivity, alertness, a state of bliss or even restlessness.
Ayurveda terms it as qualities of Rajas (activity and restlessness) Tamas (heaviness), and Sattva (pure, clear, happy quality of the mind). Dr. Aith Kumar explains that when the balance of these qualities (Tamas and Rajas) trip, psychological issues crop up. Patients might become depressed, lose their focus or even become aggressive. What endows us with proper mental health or wisdom or the ability to do what we want is Sattva. The doctor advises adopting practices to improve the Sattva in you. He also wants us to address the energy principles of Vata, Pitta and Kapha and balance them right to have a tranquil mind. Explaining about the Doshas he says if a person is creative, he is a vata dominant person; a Pitta-dominated person tends to be intellectually inclined and if Kapha dominates, then the person is endowed with a loving personality.
Naturally, the mind is impacted when there is an imbalance in the doshas, he elaborates on the result of an imbalance of each of the doshas.
Vata imbalance – Restlessness, Anxiety
Pitta imbalance – Irritability, Anger
Kapha Imbalance – Depression, laziness
Dr. Ajith further adds: When the mind is in a state of imbalance, the doshas too slip out of their state of balance. When you consult our team at Ayush, Singapore, first we assess the mental well-being of a patient. The team here will make a note of his entire history. The team will correct the dosha imbalance with herbs and lifestyle and diet modifications. If need be, Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Panchakarma (cleansing therapies) are given to the patients.
Ayurveda believes in enhancing mental health through meditation, Marma and Pranayama and these are also taught to patients who are in need, clarifies Dr. Ajith.
Increasing Sattva for mental health
Dr. Ajith Kumar of Ayush Singapore recommends a number of ways to improve Sattva guna in us to retain a healthy mind. (Sattva means the quality of goodness, positivity and peacefulness). He is of the view that practising yoga or indulging in stretching exercises or pranayama and meditation are some of the fastest ways to achieve this goal.
- Yoga: You will have to try some stretches every day, based on your physical ability and personal preference. You can try yoga too. If age does not permit you to take up yoga, you can learn personalized lessons from experienced teachers.
- Proper Breathing: Mere intake of oxygen and letting out carbon dioxide will not usher in good health. We need to go the extra mile and follow the same process differently for better mental health. Called Nadishodhan (alternate nostril breathing), this kind of deep breathing or abdominal breathing) helps to calm the mind.
- Meditation: The doctor of Ayurveda bats for a guided meditation to achieve good mental health. He advises us to sit quietly for a few minutes and internalize with our eyes closed. If you are unable to achieve a sense of calm this way, you will have to necessarily learn to practice meditation from a good teacher, says Dr. Ajith.
- Set an everyday schedule _ ample exercise, healthy companionship & fresh nutritious diet. These will really work wonders on your psyche, says the doctor confidently.
- Reading, journaling and enhancing one’s skills are ways to self-care. Never lose your creativity and do not be harsh on yourself for small mistakes (they do happen), advises the doctor.
- Last but not least factor is TAKING GOOD BREAK. Do not fail to take small breaks whenever you feel you have gone overboard with tasks that you have set for yourself.
Try to balance doshas & agni
To bring about contentment and well-being, you will have to learn to balance the body and the mind, Dr. Ajith Kumar of Ayush Ayurveda, Singapore instructs to:
- Effective seasonal balancing of the Doshas in the body
- Again internalizing and balance are important factors in navigating this time.
- Sleep and exercise in adequacy are a must.
Refrain from candy, sweets and unhealthy foods. Planned, healthy snacks (nuts and seeds) help to think positively.
Explains Dr. Ajith Kumar:
The three pillars of health are Nutrition (Aahar), Sleep (Nidra) and a balanced Lifestyle (Vihar). Of course, following a strict Dinacharya (daily regimen) and Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) helps in the perfect management of mental health.
Cleanse to live sans toxins
Toxins, otherwise called Ama, begin to build in our body when the digestive fire is hindered. This is the cause of your ailments, whether it is physical or mental. The toxins may be internal or external. Internal is connected to what you eat and that can be controlled easily. External is related to your mind, environment and relationships. Anybody who does not try to understand you or goes on nagging is actually harming you mentally. You should basically understand that you are in a toxic relationship and try to come out of it. This is where cleansing helps. It brings clarity and helps to eliminate the toxins that would have accumulated in your body because of such toxic relationships. It restores well-being and shields you from diseases. My team at Ayush are always available for consultations and we can support you with custom-made or personalized treatments, assures Dr. Ajith.
Nourishing diet, sleep
If you eat well, you sleep well. The FOOD and the MOOD have an impact on each other, smiles Dr Ajith. Thus, Ayurveda recommends warm, fresh food and the appropriate use of spices to maintain good mental health. We suggest everyone to use herbs like turmeric, cumin, pepper, ginger, cardamom and coriander in your everyday diet. I am personally in favour of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, says the doctor. Dr. Ajith is against using processed and raw foods as it goes against good mental health. Above all keeping oneself well-hydrated is important, advises the doctor.
Now that we have discussed diet, we have to talk about sleep and lifestyle.
All of us know that adequate and timely sleep improves body functions. Try to avoid night shifts and hit the bed before 10 pm. Follow these:
- Say no to screen time at least an hour before sleeping
- Let the stomach be empty for 2-3 hours before you cuddle on the sheets
- Application of oil under your feet does usher in good sleep.
- Do not sleep during the day for it increases Kapha in the body and makes you lethargic.
Do not over-stimulate senses
It is very important to take quality breaks amidst a busy schedule. This will help you to take care of or soothe your sense organs.
- Eyes: Practise Akshi Tarpana or eye exercises at periodic intervals.
- Nose: Take up steam inhalation and Aromatherapy with essential oils _ Nasya
- Skin: Ayurveda suggests Abhyanga, Shirodhara and Marma. practices
- Ears: Karna Poorna (pouring of medicated oil in the ears). You can also listen to good music to soothe your senses
- Tongue: Tongue cleaning is important. Avoid overeating. Try to include herbal teas as part of your everyday routine.
Improving immunity for good mental health
Ayurveda believes in improving immunity for good mental and physical health. We have a number of rejuvenating therapies for the same, stresses Dr. Ajith Kumar of Ayush Ayurveda.
Apart from including immunomodulatory herbs, a diet of dairy, ghee and honey and practising silence and self-care, Ayurveda also has some prevention measures, reveals the doctor of Ayurveda. Read on:
- Pratimarsa Nasya (applying sesame oil in the nose)
- Inhaling steam
- Using herbal decoctions to gargle
- Eating warm food, drinking warm water and herbal teas
The doctor suggests the following herbs to boost immunity:
Rasayana herbs – Medhya Rasayanas or brain tonics
Rejuvenating herbs – Guduchi, Yashtimadhu, Amalaki, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Guggulu, Brahmi Ghrita, Kalyanaka Ghrita, Manasamitra Vatakam.
You can try a self-massage to relieve yourself of anxiety suggests Dr. Ajith Kumar.
Other therapies that are recommended by him to improve clarity include Nasya, Abhyanga and Shirodhara.
He also advocates individualized therapies like Shirolepa, Takradhara and Shirobasti to calm the mind. Our inner strength is affected by the difficulties we face outside. In other words, to improve our mental health or well-being, we depend on external factors but actually, this is not so. It is actually our inner strength that drives us 24/7. We must recognize this ultimate asset that is within ourselves to attain a state of bliss, quips Dr. Ajith Kumar, Director, Ayush, Singapore.