Updated: 3 days ago
Do you feel anxious, fearful, restless, ungrounded, sleeping poorly? These are just a few ways Vata manifests in the mind. Feeling tense, nervous, and unable to relax feels worse than awful. Let's find out what's the root cause, and explore practical Ayurvedic medicines to restore balance, reclaim your calm, and start feeling like yourself again.
Explore more on the Saumya Blog, selected top Ayurveda blogs and websites to watch.
Ayurvedic Medicines for Anxiety
"Anxiety disorders are widespread and disabling conditions with a lifetime prevalence of nearly 30% in the United States.1 As the most common mental disorder, anxiety presents an urgent problem that affects people of all ages " according to the National Institute of Health.
"Treatment protocols for the management of anxiety and the reduction of stress are continuously being sought to mitigate the effect of these prevailing health risks. Alternatives to benzodiazepines and other prescription medications are of great interest, with intentions to lessen exposure to harmful adverse effects affiliated with these drugs." according to the National Institute of Health.
When we understand our unique pathway to a balanced life – we thrive. This concept is a central part of Ayurveda’s holistic approach to health and healing. But with 5,000 years of ancient wisdom to wrap your head around, getting started can be intimidating.
At Saumya Ayurveda, we make it easy for you by breaking your custom Ayurveda plan into three foundational pillars: Food as Medicine, Ayurvedic herbs, and Ayurvedic lifestyle practices--for the whole you--body, mind, and spirit.
In Ayurveda, those treatments are known in Sanskrit as:
1. Yuktivyapasraya Chikitsa: Body treatment
2. Sattvavajaya Chikitsa: Mind treatment
3. Daivavyapasraya Chikitsa: Spiritual treatment
First, let's explore which dosha is the root cause of anxiety, panic, fear, and poor sleep (and often constipation). Let's also look at what qualities of that dosha produced these experiences. When we understand the root cause, the qualities that lead to anxiety, we know what to look for and how to help ourselves regain balance.
Which Dosha is Prone to Anxiety?
From an Ayurvedic perspective, anxiety is considered a symptom of Vata imbalance in the mind channel (mano vaha srotas).
Balanced Vata manifests as bursts of creativity, inspiration, expansion, openness, eagerness, and ingenuity and joy. It's the butterfly in the garden that likes to move from one flower to the next.
When Vata is imbalanced in the mind, however, we may feel anxious, fearful, overwhelmed, and locked into racing, cyclical negative thought patterns, we may feel scattered, ungrounded, and experience poor quality sleep. It's that familiar feeling of flight-fight-freeze. Try our guided practices now and feel the stress level decrease.
Vata: Governs Movement
Vata dosha is characterized by space and air. The essential engine of the universe, Vata governs all functions of movement within the mind, body, and outer world. Vata dosha governs all movement in the universe — whether that is respiration, bowel movement, digestion, or racing thoughts, cannot shut of my mind, or the stillness of our minds.
Like the elements it embodies, Vata’s physical properties are cold, dry, mobile, subtle, and light making it more susceptible to environmental stressors than the other doshas.
Known in Sanskrit as mano vaha srota, (the mind channel), when Vata is in excess in the mind it creates a constriction, if not a full-on experience of clenching and that results in feeling lonely, fearful, contracted, and anxious. When Vata is constricting forcefully, one may experience that as a panic attack.
“If we’re prone to anxiety, or going through a stressful period, we have the opportunity and necessity to retrain our nervous system. We learn to shift from flight-fight-freeze mode to rest-restore-relax. In a word, we learn how to move through life grounded and calm again by balancing the doshas.” -Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
“Veena has helped me so much! I had been struggling with fatigue for many years. I tried many things, read lots of books, advice, etc. Nothing worked, or very slight positive change over the years, but I was still struggling with the everyday. Then a couple months with Veena, I was stunned at how Ayurveda and her customized approach worked! Not only did the fatigue go away, but I actually have renewed energy and feel so physically and mentally energetic! I am so grateful. I feel like I got living my life back.”
--Michelle Cheuk, USA
Vata may manifest in a wide range of ways in the body and mind.
30 Signs of Vata Imbalances
Mind: Anxiety, nervousness panic attacks, fear Restless, agitated Dizziness Feeling ungrounded, spacey, scattered, overwhelmed Excess worrying and thinking in general (“cannot shut my mind off, it just keeps talking.’) Feeling sped-up, racing mind Confused, shaky Excessive talking
Body: Dry skin, hair, lips, joints Dry digestive tract: gas, bloat, constipation Dry, scanty, irregular periods, or absent flow When the cycle is present, Vata manifests as anxiety, insomnia, sharp or stinging cramps, and blood discoloration General sense of feeling cold, hands and feet especially Poor circulation Tight muscles, twitches, muscle spasms and feeling clenched Tics and tremors Aches and pains here, there, and everywhere at times Palpitations, tinnitus Dehydration Weight loss, difficulty gaining weight, and weight loss and hair loss Fidgeting or other extra movement Dislike of cold and wind Difficulty with loud noises Light, interrupted sleep Difficulty sleeping, with waking, or difficulty and staying asleep Feeling weak, fatigued, loss of vitality Astringent taste, dryness in the mouth Sense of wanting to run or runaway Lack of focus or forgetful Difficulty concentrating, remembering Digestive issues
How can you calm anxiety with Ayurveda? Let's explore our “Healing Trifecta” and apply it to anxiety– and you'll learn how to use the tools of the healing trifecta to create small shifts that radically transform your life.
1. Food as Medicine
While Western healthcare has begun to embrace the healing power of diet, Ayurveda has long understood that food is medicine. What (and how and when) we eat can have a profound impact on our bodies, spirits, and minds. Ayurveda offers a holistic approach to diet that honors the unique needs of every individual.
At its core, Food as Medicine is deeply personalized. Your dosha picture, current dosha state, stage of life, and even the geography where you live all influence which food choices are best for you. That’s why having a consultation with an experienced Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and follow up consultations are so important.
It is confusing to know what and how to eat. First, there is an endless amount of information out there, much of it, people find contradictory. Second, the information is a one-size-fits all approach. In contrast, Ayurveda focuses on your specific body, mind, and spirit and your treatment is customized to you.
The good news is that Ayurveda’s principle of opposite qualities bring balance provides you with supportive, clear guidance. When we're tired, maybe even exhausted, overwhelmed, and anxious, simple and easy solutions are what we need. Let's look at some tools to get you on your way to feeling better.
Learn what foods are good for calming anxiety:
Eat whole foods as close to how nature created them. Translation? Avoid foods that come in packages, even if the label says "organic." A fresh bowl of homemade vegetable soup is far more nourishing than a dinner from the freezer section.
Avoid sugar and chemicals in your foods. This is pretty much taken care of by avoiding food that comes in a package (can, bag, box, freezer carton) These stimulating foods are what we reach for, but what we need is good, clean energy.
Fall, winter and early spring are ideal times to use a crockpot or Instapot. Toss in your simple whole foods in the morning and come home to a wholesome meal just waiting for you. Bonus: your home will smell great too and there's a lot of comfort in that.
Favor warm, moist, oily (not greasy, good healthy oils versus dry foods), well cooked, nicely seasoned foods. Favor root vegetables which are anything growing under the earth basically, such as carrots and beets. Hard squashes are heavy, sweet, and grounding. Fresh varieties are harvested as early as August and different varieties become available each month through winter. Once a week bake a pan full of them. You can eat them straight out their "shell" or add them to soups and stir fry dishes.
If you're on the go or too exhausted to cook, source restaurants that offer the food you need. Asian restaurants and the prepared sections at coops and other healthy markets have got you covered when you're in a pinch or to bridge your meals here and there until you start feeling stronger and more energetic.
Saumya Ayurveda Client's Favorite Vata Grounding Recipes
Foods that calm Vata and reduce anxiety:
Ayurvedic Vata Grounding Curried Roots Roast Ayurvedic Roasted Beetroot Ayurvedic Spaghetti Squash Recipe| Ground Vata Ayurveda Beet Soup Ayurvedic Night Milk Recipe for Good Sleep Vata Soothing Kitchari: Cleansing and Grounding Ayurvedic Recipe: Rejuvenation Latte Ayurvedic Recipe: Vata Grounding Carrot Ginger Soup
Which spices are best for you depends on your unique doshic picture. In general, the following spices are ground and warming to Vata and therefore reduce anxiety: Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla, allspice, hing, paprika, black pepper, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, thyme, marjoram, salt, mustard seed.
Keep in mind that we all are comprised of all three doshas and if Pitta or Kapha is also aggravated, that influences what one should eat and what spices to use. While all three doshas are present in every one of us, they manifest to varying degrees. Our distinct physical, mental, and spiritual traits are the result of our unique dosha constitution. You can think of it like our energetic fingerprint – no two are the same! These are general suggestions only.
"Let your food be simple and whole. That's all we need. Make a big pot of soup or stew. A large sauteed vegetable dish. Bake a tray of squash. This will provide you with a healthy foundation of fresh, cooked, spiced vegetables. Let things in your life be simple and easy." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
2. Ayurvedic Herbs
What herbs are best for Vata types experiencing anxiety? It depends.
"It depends on the whole you (body, mind, spirit), other conditions, time of year, stage of life, location, season and so forth. I appreciate people wanting a simple answer, but the correct answer is the herb that supports the whole you. The clarity and holistic approach, the specificity about what's going on for you, is the beauty and power of Ayurveda." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Here's a few herbs that might be used to ease anxiety and balance Vata dosha: Ginger Triphala Brahmi Ashwagandha Vidari Kanda Jatamamsi
One example, "Withania somnifera (WS), widely known as ashwagandha....WS has even proven to have effects on anxiety similar to those of standard benzodiazepines." according to the National Institute of Health.
As with all herbs, the tenet of Ayurveda is that what works well for one person may be incorrect for another. To know what herbs are correct for you, schedule a consultation with a seasoned Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. (Herbs are listed for informational purposes only.)
Wondering how to heal your nervous system with Ayurveda?
3. Ayurveda Lifestyle Tools
The final pillar of our Healing Trifecta consists of Ayurvedic lifestyle practices. While this phrase can make us a little anxious, it doesn’t mean waking up at four a.m. every day for an hour of silent meditation (though if that works for you, great!). Rather, these 5000-year old lifestyle tools help us tap into the meditative flow of life.
"Pick a few practices for your Ayurvedic morning and evening routines, anchor those routines with our 11- minute guided practices, and you have a strong foundation. Less is more because people are already exhausted. It's not about performing a long list of practices, it's about finding a few that provide you with the greatest return on your energetic and time investment. Explore and experiment. See what helps you most." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Foundation Ayurveda Lifestyle
Nasya oil treatment is a form of inner-cleansing that involves applying herbalized oils to our nasal passages. Nasya oil is infused with herbs that support the sinus, nose, throat, and head, and balance all doshas, particularly Vata.
A regular Nasya treatment supports our overall well-being. Anointing our nose lubricates the nasal passages and provides subtle moisture to our breath. It can also help with allergies and sinus conditions, and boost focus and mental clarity and it's calming.
Nasya Oil Benefits: Nasya oil can remedy common symptoms of Vata dosha imbalances - such as anxiety, anxious depression, sleep troubles, brain fog, difficulty remembering, trouble concentrating, and more. Dig into our Wild List of Vata Imbalances to learn more.
Learn everything you need to know about nasya: Nasya Oil Benefits | How to Use Nasya Oil for Greater Wellbeing
“Your nasya oil really had a strong, positive effect on my life. My mind was racing, and I have been highly stressed for a long time. I did the nasya and suddenly all went quiet. I felt like meditating. Your nasya oil really calmed the mind.” - Anonymous, New Mexico
Daily Abhyanga massage is an expression of self-love. Beyond this, the benefits are many. It nourishes your body and skin, aids circulation, eliminates impurities, and balances your body, mind, and spirit.
“One should practice Abhyanga as a meditation. As you massage, observe the experience. The movement of the hands. The feel of the warm oil. The relaxation of the muscles during the massage. The flow and sensation of the breath.” --Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Explore More: Abhyanga Massage - How to Do Ayurveda Self-Massage at Home
This blog covers the basics of performing Abhyanga self-massage. You can modify your ritual to fit your morning – but even a full body massage need only take a few minutes before you shower. To discover the optimal oil blend and specific Abhyanga techniques for your unique doshic composition, schedule a consultation with Saumya Ayurveda.
Move and Stretch and Be Restored
Swimming, walking, biking are ideal forms of exercise for Vata. Something as simple and available as a walk, warms up the body, increases circulation, releases tension, reduces stress, and moves mental and physical energy.
Practice restorative yog-asana (postures)
1.) Bālāsana — also commonly referred to as Child’s Pose is a resting pose that closes the front body, and evokes feelings of being nurtured and protected. This pose stimulates mental and physical relaxation.
To move into Child’s Pose, kneel on your yoga mat with your thighs apart
Sink your buttocks to the heels of your feet
Curl your spine and fold your body forward
Draw your forehead down towards the ground
Breathe deeply into the back of your body
Extend your arms in front of your body
Relax and observe the breath.
2.) Savāsana — also known as Corpse Pose, Savāsana is used to promote relaxation and stillness at the end of your restorative yoga practice. While in Savāsana, listen to our guided progressive relaxation.
3.) Viparita Karani - also known as Legs Up the Wall Pose, Viparita Karani calms the nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety.
To practice Legs Up the Wall Pose lay on your back with the spine, neck, and head aligned.
Move your legs up against the wall
Place your hips about 6 inches from the wall or the distance that is comfortable for you
Arms about 8-12 inches from your sides
Stay in this position for as long as you are comfortable and relaxed.
To release the pose, gently push away from the wall and bring your knees to your chest, roll to your left side, pause, keep connected to your relaxed state, and slowly come to a seated position.
This is a perfect pose to transition from the day to your dinner and evening.
For a comprehensive list of lifestyle practices explore these two articles: Ayurvedic Morning Routine | 6 Rituals for a Calm and Centered Day 10 Ayurvedic Evening Rituals for a Calming Night
Curious about Ayurveda, but not sure where to start? Book a Free Ayurveda Phone Consultation to learn more about our customized Ayurveda Consultation packages. In this 15-minute call, we’ll explore Ayurveda as a compass for a physically and mentally balanced, healthy life.
There is a saying, "The mind is more in the body, than the body is in the mind." The Saumya 3 step meditation process shifts us from fight-flight-freeze mode, to rest-restore-relax mode. Give it a try for forty days and observe the changes. The more grounded and relaxed we are, the smoother life flows.
"The breath is the connection between the mind and body, so by training the breath, we become calm, focused, and grounded, we slow down the aging process by decreasing stress. These practices are so simple and easy to have as part of our daily life. We actually feel and look younger."
- Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
1. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing and Change Your Life. When we re-learn to breath diaphragmatically, we move from the flight-fight-freeze mode, to rest, restore, relaxation mode from where we want and need to live.
3. Ayurveda Daily Routines: --Ayurvedic Morning Routine | 6 Rituals for a Calm and Centered Day
"Choose a couple of practices from the routines that provide you with the greatest support. Perform them while applying our two minute meditation technique and your mundane tasks, just transformed into a mellifluous meditation. This is meditation applied to daily life." - Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
"Veena was able to help me regain my energy in just a few months and I’m feeling like my “young” self again! I love the food plan she designed for me, and all the supporting practices (am/pm routines, breathing techniques, herbs, and spice mixes) are so enjoyable to incorporate into my day. I highly recommend Saumya Ayurveda if you want to feel better and have more vitality.”
-Molly Rossini, Minnesota
Ayurvedic Medicines for Anxiety is a natural way to begin to alleviate excess Vata in the mind.
Explore More: Ayurveda Breathwork Pranayama
“I found Saumya Ayurveda at a time when I truly needed an ally and an unbiased outside perspective on imbalances in my life. After years of reaching out to various conventional medicine practitioners and relying on my own limited knowledge, I felt tired, lost and overwhelmed.
The first few minutes of my initial consultation with Veena were a breath of fresh air. I felt a huge sense of affirmation. I felt like my head was finally above water. She helped me gain a holistic look at where I am while devising an Ayurveda plan that was simple and do-able.
Transportation limitations and bouts of crippling anxiety have historically prevented me from seeking help, so I really take advantage of Veena’s virtual consultations.
I’m very grateful for Veena's presence on my journey and look forward to having her at my side for many years to come.” – L.R., Wisconsin
“Oh, golly way, way improved. Stress fell off like an old hairy coat, I’m just not anxious. Depression is way decreased. There just nothing there. I was haunted by anxiety whole life, and it’s just gone.”
--Mark Hughes, Minnesota
"I have implemented small changes that you recommended. I'm ecstatic to report that all my anxiety has completely disappeared. It feels like magic! I was not expecting such a speedy turnaround in my overall outlook and mental wellbeing, but the best way I can describe it is feeling infinitely more balanced, which has seeped into all areas of my life - work, home, personal relationships, etc. I will keep implementing small changes and building healthy habits.” –Anonymous, USA
Discover the Saumya Ayurveda Way
We all want to be heard, understood, and cared for as whole beings, not a set of isolated symptoms. True health is more than the absence of disease, which is why Western medicine so often leaves us feeling hopeless and unseen.
Deep down, you already know what you’re searching for: a new framework for living – one that brings your entire being back into balance. With Saumya Ayurveda, you’ll receive individualized guidance to create the physically, mentally, and spiritually vibrant life you crave.
Veena is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and meditation teacher, and monk.
She is President Emeritus of the Meditation Center and former staff member of the Minnesota Institute of Ayurveda.
Veena fell in love with the traditional medicine used in her family’s home, learning herbal remedies at her grandmother's knee. She remains passionate for over 30 years, helping clients feel their best physically, emotionally, and spiritually with Ayurveda.
Veena individualizes treatment plans to each person, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach, so it fits your life and becomes woven into your daily life, naturally.