The past 18 months have been difficult to navigate, and if you’re still feeling “off,” you aren’t alone. Nor should you brush it aside as something you just have to live with: Our mental health is important, as it’s the basis of the home we live in and the lens through which we see the world.
Ayurveda can help you understand what you need in order to come back into balance. Yoga’s sister science offers an understanding of the deeper nuances within your body, and that’s key—because what happens in the body is reflected in the mind and vice versa. No symptoms exist in a vacuum.
In Ayurveda, the five natural elements (fire, water, earth, air, and ether) are broken down and integrated into the three doshas, or energy types. Everyone is a combination of all three doshas, but we each carry varying amounts (take the quiz to discover your dominant dosha). Within us, these elements represent various mental and physical characteristics. For example, fire is hot and powerful, while water is fluid and cool. Earth is stable and grounding, air is light and free, and ether is still and connected.
If you feel your thoughts spiraling out of control like a tornado…
The imbalance: Vata air + ether (2⁄3 air, 1⁄3 ether)
When vata is out of balance, you’ll feel qualities of excess air: You may feel disembodied and experience repetitive or looping thoughts that you can’t control. You might suffer from anxiety and find yourself future-tripping, paranoid about what is to come. In those moments, you may lose track of time and feel out of touch with reality, your surroundings, and your body. If you’ve ever felt that hyperventilating, panic-attack feeling, this is what a very intense vata imbalance can feel like.
Try this: Get grounded
Lie down and feel the earth beneath you. Stretch or touch your skin as a way to reconnect to your body. Use oil to massage yourself, feeling the sensation of your fingers. Take notice of your surroundings. Smell the air and hear the sounds around you to tune back in to the present. Practice deep squats and any pose lying down where you feel supported, rested, and grounded. Know that you are safe, held, and loved by Mother Earth—and that she is inside of you.
If you feel angry, frustrated, or irritated…
The imbalance: Pitta fire + water (2⁄3 fire, 1⁄3 water)
When your pitta is out of balance, you’ll feel fiery. You know when you feel like you’re about to burst? That’s pitta gone wrong. It’s why we have cartoon characters with fire coming out of their heads to demonstrate anger and use terms such as “hot-headed” or “hot-tempered.” When you have too much pitta, you can physically feel heat and tension move throughout your body. With nowhere for it to go, you may end up erupting onto others. When left out of balance, unresolved anger or rage will build up—and it could get inappropriately directed at those closest to you.
Try this: Take a cool shower
In Ayurveda, we say “like attracts like,” so to move out of the ring of fire, you need its opposite: water. Take a cool shower, bath, or dip in a pool to reconnect to your inner fluidity. Practice Yin or restorative yoga, letting your body soften and relax. Spending time in nature and going on walks is also great for diffusing wound-up pitta energy. Whatever you do, sit with the feelings that come up so you can identify what sadness or grief may exist underneath your anger. Practice your chosen meditation, or just connect to your breath to drop out of your ego (which is the biggest defender, analyzer, and instigator) and realize there is nothing to defend—you are love, just as you are.
If you feel stuck or lethargic…
The imbalance: Kapha earth + water (2⁄3 earth, 1⁄3 water)
When kapha is out of balance, you’ll feel qualities of excess earth energy (think feeling sedentary and heavy). If left imbalanced, it can result in depression. You may feel like you have no energy to get out of bed, exercise, do your daily tasks, or practice self-care. Everything may feel dull, numb, and colorless. You may find yourself asking, “What’s the point?” If you feel this way, know that it may be a kapha imbalance, which can be addressed with Ayurveda.
Try this: Take up a new hobby
Revitalize your mind, body, and spirit. Try something new that stimulates your mind-body connection, such as weaving macramé or doing a puzzle. Reinvigorate your brain by reading a mystery novel or taking an online language class. Any form of exercise that gets your heart rate up will also help—try practicing a vinyasa or taking a belly-dancing class. To connect with spirit, read books that inspire you. Let new energy flow through your body. With cathartic movement, release pent-up stagnant energy. Celebrate small wins every day, and keep moving toward what makes you feel excited—those are bread crumbs guiding you toward your dharma, your soul’s purpose. Various lifestyle practices such as journaling, yoga, visualization, and meditation help to strengthen each chakra so that you can channel your dharma.
Sahara Rose is a best-selling author and host of the Highest Self Podcast, called “a leading voice for the millennial generation into the new paradigm shift” by Deepak Chopra, who wrote the forewords of her books. Discover your dharma archetype with her free quiz and connect with her @iamsahararose.