How Ayurvedic pranayama can help you manage your anxiety
We are currently in Vata season in the Northern Hemisphere. Late fall and winter are known as “Vata season” because they are marked by some of the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, light, clear, and moving. These environmental factors influence the human system by increasing the same qualities in our minds and bodies.
What is vata dosha?
Vata is one of the three Doshas, or energetic humors in Ayurveda. Vata dosha is built of the space and air elements—the most subtle of the five elements of Ayurveda. This is one reason why everyone has a vata imbalance even if vata isn’t your predominant dosha…and explains why vata dosha is the most easily disturbed.
What does vata imbalance look like?
When vata is disturbed, it can manifest in the mind and body. Think dry skin, constipation, sleeplessness, nervousness, inability to focus, or dizziness. Mental and emotional disturbances, like anxiety or fearfulness, are also signs of a vata imbalance.
What is Pranayama?
Pranayama is an ancient yogic practice of focusing on breath and regulating it. “Prana” means breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control. So, basically, Pranayama is “Control of Breath.” It is considered the fourth limb of yoga and involves controlling your breath in different styles and length. This science of breathing comes from India. The breathing exercises clear the physical and emotional obstacles in our body so that both prana and breath can flow freely.
Ayurveda and Pranayama
Ayurveda reminds us that the mind and body are connected. If we use breathing techniques to lower vata, it will have a direct impact on our body as well. This pranayama is beneficial for balancing vata dosha and are particularly beneficial during fall. But it can be used throughout the year—whenever you feel the need to calm your mind and ground yourself.
Pranayama for Vata: Nadi Shodhana
One of the great techniques for balancing and harmonizing vata is the alternate nostril breath, known as Nadi Shodhana, which is very rhythmic, soothing, and grounding. Nadi Shodhana is excellent for not only releasing physical tension, but also for supporting a clear mind, enhanced tranquility, and stress reduction.
Take a comfortable seat. Sitting cross-legged helps. Make sure your spine is straight and body feels warm. Sit tall and close your eyes. Close the right nostril gently with the right thumb. Begin by inhaling gently up the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand. Lift the thumb and exhale down the right nostril. Inhale back up the right nostril. Exhale left, then continue at a comfortable rhythm.
The breath should be effortless, smooth, comforting, and relaxing. Do this for about 5–10 minutes, twice a day. You will start to notice a difference. If one of your nostrils is congested or if you have a deviated septum, you can practice Nadi Shodhana without blocking off the nostrils. Simply visualize the breath flowing from side to side as you follow the pattern above.
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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional. If you are looking for advice from a trained ayurvedic coach, contact me here.