8 Ayurvedic Tips to Release Stress in Uncertain Times
by Anne-Sophie Eckert
According to Ayurveda, the body has three managers - one of which is Vata Dosha, responsible for the principle of movement. Made of the elements of Ether and Air, Vata Dosha allows changes to happen. The Air element in particular creates creativity in the mind and dryness in the body. In changing or insecure times, like the ones we are facing now, Vata Dosha increases - and when this dosha is in excess, stress and anxiety can occur.
Vata Dosha’s main properties are dry, light, and cold. To help smooth these qualities, Ayurveda offers simple grounding and warming lifestyle practices. An anti-Vata diet or simple yoga exercises can easily be implemented.
1. Take deep breaths
Anywhere … just take a few deep breaths for a couple of minutes. Pranayama (or ‘breathing exercises’) is a powerful stress-reducing activity. It is best done with an empty stomach and in a cross-legged position. You can also sit on a chair with a straight spine. Pranayama calms the mind and allows Prana (or ‘life force’) to flow freely. Just remember to breathe throughout the day…deeply.
2. Stretch whenever you can
Give yourself a good stretch (and a little break at the same time). Yoga-inspired stretches can help to release tension. Stretching activates your blood circulation and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Sit in a chair with a straight spine and stretch your arms to the side, palms facing the walls. Rotate the wrists a few times in both directions, and then move the arms up looking in the same direction, breathing gently and slowly. You might even yawn. Repeat a couple of times.
3. Take a walk in nature
According to Ayurveda, walking in nature is a sattvic activity: it brings clarity to the mind. A twenty-minute walk in nature can eliminate the stress accumulated after a full day of work. Make it a meditation, a moment for yourself, a big deep breath… Personally, I like to take a walk after lunch, as it breaks up the day and helps with my digestion.
4. Nurture your body
The practice of Abhyanga in Ayurveda consists of applying warm oil all over the body before showering or bathing. You can apply sesame oil (use coconut oil if you have high Pitta dosha). Abhyanga provides a soothing and loving feeling to the body and the mind. The skin is your largest organ and it nourishes your body by absorption, therefore good quality oils are recommended. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, I would not recommend applying anything to your skin that you wouldn’t eat!
5. Eat regularly and quietly
According to Ayurveda, lunch is the time of the day when Agni (or ‘digestive fire’) is the strongest. Multitasking and skipping meals create irregularity. Because irregularity increases Vata Dosha, eating at regular times without other stimuli will help to reduce stress. And if you now work from home, choose to have your meals in a different place than your working environment. Make lunch a sacred moment!
6. Opt for warm and sweet food
Not the sweet that you might usually think of…Ayurveda considers grains like rice, oat, or barley sweet in taste. The sweet taste promotes stability, therefore, a diet rich in grains is grounding and highly recommended to control an increased Vata Dosha.
Focus on warm and cooked foods as well as warm (caffeine-free) beverages.
7. Cultivate mindfulness
Mindfulness is being attentive to the present moment and acknowledging anything that arises within it. By observing our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without evaluating them as “good” or “bad”, we may begin to experience a larger degree of detachment from things like stress and anxiety and inquire into whether the basis of your fear is valid or not. A meditation, a spiritual practice, or just contemplation can be a great help in dealing with the stresses of life.
8. Try this creamy white asparagus soup
The chicken is optional in this recipe, but it helps to balance Vata Dosha. The asparagus brings unctuosity to counteract the dryness of Vata Dosha and it is now in season. Enjoy!
6/8 white asparagus
2 tbsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. ghee
Grab a large pot and warm the ghee in it until it has melted. Then add the fennel seeds and the finely chopped onion and potato. Cook for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the chicken by removing its skin and gizzards. Peel the asparagus, slice the stalks, and keep the head of the asparagus separate.
Add the chicken and the asparagus (except the heads of the asparagus, keep them on the side for now) to the onion and potato mixture and level with boiling water.
After 20 minutes add the asparagus heads and let it boil for another 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken and the asparagus heads. Once the chicken is out of the pot, take the meat off the bone. Blend what is left in the pot to make a smooth soup base. Add the now boneless chicken and the asparagus heads. Gently bring to a low boil for another 5 minutes before it is ready. Serve with slices of fresh chives on top.
This blog was written by a student in our Ayurveda Practitioner Studies degree programme. If you are interested in becoming an Ayurveda Practitioner or want to deepen your professional knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda - see our website here.
Anne-Sophie is an Ayurveda Practitioner Training student at Delight Academy. She also is also a lawyer, a dancer, and a yogini. She has lived in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and has now settled in the Netherlands with her son and partner. Her aspiration is to spread the beautiful wisdom of Ayurveda and collaborate with students and practitioners all around the world. She has been finding inspiration in Vedic sciences and philosophy including Yoga, Vedanta, Vedic Astrology, and Ayurveda.