By Ami Jayaprada Hirschstein, AHC, C-IAYT
According to a study just released by The American Psychological Association, 80% of US adults have been under significant increased stress during the pandemic. The World Health Organization, estimates that stress related disorders and other mental health diseases will be the second leading cause of disability by the year 2020. Stress alters not only our mood, it affects our bodies' chemistry and thus our overall health and immunity. Both Ayurveda and its sister science, Yoga, have been clinically proven to help alleviate anxiety.
Anxiety is known as Cittodvega and a symptom of Unmada (disorders of the mind), and is a due to the aggravation of vata. In the early stages vata is aggravated along with rajas, with chronic anxiety involving both aggravated vata and tamas. Rajas is kinetic energy. When it is in balance, rajas gives us motivation. We live in a culture prone to aggravated vata and rajas because it emphasizes, multi-tasking, over-working, and overstimulating the senses. This “burning the candle at both ends” lifestyle leads to the mind and Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight) becoming overactive.
This affects how we see and experience the world and thus influences our behavior. It can become a vicious cycle, each feeding the other until it spirals out of control. Left untreated, this aggravated raja can lead to complete exhaustion. This is when tamas takes over. Tamas is dull and heavy. Balanced tamas is necessary for sleep and rest. Aggravated tamas causes brain fog, lethargy, and depression. Therefore, people can swing from anxiety to depression and back again. (We will focus on depression in another article.)
Treatment of Cittodvega
As anxiety involves both the dosas of the body (vata) and mind (rajas and tamas), treatment must address both. We must work on sattva building and pacifying vata. Sattva is peaceful, meditative and allows for Viveka (discernment). It is our natural state of being. We can build sattva through good moral conduct, following the Niyamas, helping others, being in nature and through spiritual practices.
Prevention: We Need to Actively Work on These
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According to Ayurveda, constipation can either be a primary condition or secondary with another disorder. This is the reason an Ayurvedic doctor will first rule out the root cause of the constipation to fully understand the proper treatment protocol. When there is an imbalance of vata within the colon, the natural downward movement (peristalsis) is lost.