Reduce Stress with Ayurveda

Seven Ways to Reduce Stress
By Drs. Bryan and Light Miller

As we approach the year 2011, our fast paced lifestyles present us with overwhelming choices, challenges, and stessors. Fortunately there is a wide range of self-help measures which can help us meet these stresses. We offer here seven time tested ways to make life more manageable.

1. Herbs – “Nervines” are a class of herbal medicine which builds and supports our nervous system. Sedatives are a sub-class which soothes frayed nerves, relaxes, and promotes regenerative sleep. Chamomile, oatstraw, peppermint, cinnamon, lemon balm, catnip, passion flower, and lavender are “simples” (single herbs) used for hundreds of years. UniTea Herbs produce a blend called, “SereniTea” which is specifically formulated for relieving stress. Remember, one teaspoon of herb makes one cup of tea.

2. Essential Oils – These are the strongest extractions of herbal medicine; their concentration and ease of use make them a quick fix for stress. Essential oils of lavender, geranium, and other flowers are naturally calming. Oils from the woods such as cedar, cypress, sandalwood, and rosewood are strengthening. Root oils like cyperus, valerian, and vetiver are grounding. Citrus oils of orange, lemon, bergamot, and grapefruit are awakening and refreshing. Oils such as basil, myrrh, frankincense, and bhrami clear the nerve channels and create clarity of mind.

3. Vitamins & Minerals – B-complex is found naturally in whole grains and nutritional yeast and supports the functions of the nervous system and the digestive system. Calcium, magnesium, and trace minerals are vital to nerve and immune performance. Sea vegetables are excellent sources of all minerals and include dulse (my favorite), nori, kelp, kombu, wakame, and hiziki. All can be added to soup. Kelp (ground) can be sprinkled on food. Nori can be a wrap around vegetables, and dulse can be rinsed and broken over a salad.

4. Breathing – The average person only breathes at 20% of capacity resulting in low oxygen intake and fatigue. Under stress we tend to breathe more shallowly and hold our breathing back. Practicing conscious breathing increases oxygenation and shifts our state of mind to the positive.
In Connected Breath – inhale through the nose and release the exhalation through the mouth, making an “AH” sound. This is great for releasing stress and old emotions.
Kundalini Breath – is created by a series of rapid, forceful, diaphragmatic breaths (up to 108) which supercharge your body with oxygen and energy. Meditative Breath – is long, quiet, relaxed breathing through the nose and is good for quieting the mind, for meditation, or sleep.

5. Chanting – Repetition of primordial sounds has a soothing and centering effect upon the mind. These sound vibrations resonate the cranium and sinus cavities, producing alpha waves and deep states of relaxation. “OM” is thought to be the sound produced by the universe and “Shanti” translates as Peace.

6. Exercise – Removes accumulated stress and tension from the muscular system and flushes wastes from the lymphatics. People who do not exercise carry more tension. Exercise relaxes, grounds, and promotes sleep. Walking along the beach adds the negative (good) ions from the sea air. Swimming’s non-gravitation is especially soothing. A competitive sport is a healthy release for aggression.

7. Ayurvedic Medicine – This has been popularized in this country by Dr. Deepak Chopra but has existed for 5,000 years. It is the only medicine that recognizes metabolic types (one man’s food is another man’s poison). Much of Ayurveda is self-treatment and by understanding your bodytype you can reduce stress through appropriate applications. Vata (air) types tend toward fear and anxiety and are assisted by herbs and oils which calm (i.e., chamomile) and which clarify the mind (gota kola). Pitta (fire) types are easily irritated and angered. Cooling foods, herbs, and oils (the flowers) can be beneficial. Kapha (water-earth) types can suffer from apathy and depression. Energizers such as juniper, cypress, and the citrus’s can motivate them to break old patterns. Books on Ayurveda offer complete lifestyle regimes and can be extremely useful. Ayurveda has special treatments which are directed towards stress – shirodhara is the streaming of warm oil over the forehead and top of the head for 30-60 minutes and is powerfully calming to the nerves; often produces euphoric states.

8. Pancha Karma – This is a 7-day cleanse-rejuvenation program can slow the aging process. Tarpana is an ancestral-relationship forgiveness ceremony that transforms your outlook on life. Abyangha is self-massage and fulfills the need for touch, seals the auric field from outside influences, and nourishes the skin. Add the appropriate essential oils to vegetable oils, depending upon your bodytype, and pay special attention to your neck and back. Wipe off any excess.

CONCLUSION: Whenever life feels overwhelming, consider that we chose our incarnation, that we are supported in our life purpose, and that we have choices which will support and sustain us for creating our own “heaven on earth”.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Drs. Bryan and Light Miller are international teachers who reside in Sarasota, Florida and teach aromatherapy, ayurveda, advanced massage techniques, and tantra. The Millers’ are available for Pancha Karma, Kaya Kalpa, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultations, as well as other Ayurvedic treatments.

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