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Ayurveda and Mental Health

This week on our live, we are talking about Ayurveda and Mental Health. Once again, it was a pleasure talking to Reetu, an ayurvedic practitioner and founder of ahahealth.

According to Ayurveda, one size does not fit all and hence treatments are usually suggested based on the type of energy/dosha a person has. Hence, before we dived into mental health, we first had a quick intro into the doshas as below.

Doshas (Energy Types)

In Ayurveda, there are three types of doshas. Each person is either one of these doshas or a combination of them.

  1. Pitta Dosha

The Pitta dosha is comprised of the elements of fire and water, with fire dominating in most cases.

It is thought that this dosha is a transformative dosha and most people who have this as their dominating dosha have good digestion/metabolism. They are able to eat a lot and not put on weight, or they are able to drink lots of alcohol and don’t get a huge hangover. If they go to the gym, they can easily gain muscle. Having a transformative energy, people from this dosha are able to achieve results faster compared to other doshas.

They generally tend to have an athletic look with sharp facial features and a sharp gaze. People with a dominant pitta energy are natural born leaders, driven, motivated, competitive and can become aggressive if their pitta goes off-balance.

Given the fire this dosha possesses, incase of an imbalance, it can be beneficial to eat a cooling diet.

2. Vata Dosha

The Vata dosha is comprised of space and air. Space and air are vast and constantly flowing hence people with this dominating dosha tend to crave a care-free lifestyle.

They are thin and find it difficult to put on weight. They have a small appetite too. As this is an air dosha, they experience irregularity on a frequent basis whether its to do with their digestion or their mood. People with a vata dosha are creative, pure, genuine and find happiness in the small things in life.

They tend to be talkative and use a lot of hand gestures when communicating. They also love change and do not like to be stagnant. They are often afraid of commitment and will find it difficult to settle down.

Incase of an imbalance, they could experience anxiety, be fearful, get constipation and arthritis too. It could be beneficial for those of a Vata dosha to create a more regular routine e.g. eating more regularly or having a regular sleep routine.

3. Kapha Dosha

The Kapha dosha is comprised of Earth and Water.

People with a dominant kapha dosha have broad shoulders and their bone structure is quite dense. They gain weight easily and struggle to lose it.

They are strong and have good endurance. For people with this dosha, it is more beneficial to have an intense short interval workout such as HIIT, rather than a slow paced exercise such as walking to lose weight.

People with this personality are often compared to a cat. They prefer to sit in one corner, listen and observe. They want everything to be given to them and they don’t like change. They can be very loyal. They are risk averse and prefer to play it safe.

Incase of an imbalance, they should eat a healthier diet and do more intense workouts.

Mental Health

In Ayurveda, there are three attributes that contribute to our overall mental health:

1) Satva

This is associated with intelligence and refers to mental clarity/purity of thought. It brings peace to oneself and the ultimate aim is to reach the satva level – almost like a state of enlightenment. When one lives a satvik life, it means living a life of stability, harmony and awareness. One is in harmony with nature.

2) Rajas

This gives us our day to day drive to keep going in life. It is our passion in life.

3) Tamas

Tamas is associated with darkness, stubbornness, laziness, dullness in our life, however, this can also enable us sleep.

Mental health disorders can stem from a lack of satva/rajas or an excess of tamas.

In Ayurveda, there are 3 steps involved in learning which if in imbalance can cause mental health issues:

1) Dhi – which refers to intelligence and the process of learning. This is governed by the vata dosha. If the vata dosha is in imbalance, the body and mind become light and a vata personality cannot focus, will experience ADHD, fear, anxiety, moodiness, bipolar disorder, social anxiety and in extreme cases, hallucinations of hearing sounds. Incase of high vata, toxins could also settle in lighter places in the brain.

2) Dhruti – processing the knowledge. This is governed by the pitta dosha which is transformative. Incase of a pitta imbalance, one will experience rage, lose temper easily, be frustrated and in extreme cases, experience visual hallucinations.

3) Smruti – storing the knowledge. This is govered by the kapha dosha. An imbalance in the pitta dosha could cause Alzheimer’s, difficultly in recollecting, the tendency to forget, anxiety and depression.

Fixing Imbalances

In Ayurveda, mental health challenges can stem from several things including poor metabolism, diet or lifestyle. It is important to take care of all these areas for good mental health.


Poor digestion and elimination can cause brain fog, stubbornness, depression, laziness in kapha doshas.

It is important to use natural laxatives to remove toxins in such cases.


Breathing techniques/meditation can help to calm the mind and are especially beneficial for vata doshas.

Grounding techniques such as standing barefoot in grass can also help in reducing inflammation and chronic diseases.

A wonderful breathing technique is the box technique which is breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 6 counts and exhale for 8 counts. Doing 5 cycles of this before eating food is beneficial for digestion.

If one is struggling with insomnia, one could breathe in and out through the left nostril.

Vata dosha: Breathing in and out through the right nostril and then the left nostril is calming

Pitta dosha: Breathing in and out through the left nostril is calming

Kapha dosha: Breathing in and out through the right nostril increases heat


For vata dosha, overstimulating their senses with coffee is not good and could cause mental health challenges. Instead light warm and nourishing meals are better and having a routine.

For pitta dosha, cooling foods like fruits and green vegetables as well as cooling grains such as rice rather than wheat are better.

For kapha dosha, staying away from grains and carbs/sweets is better. They should eat more soups, stews, vegetables. e.g. for breakfast they could eat an apple strew with dried fruits/nuts and cinnamon.


Vata doshas should build a pattern in life and practise more grounding / meditation / yoga.

They should avoid over-indulgence of sense organs e.g. listening to loud music everyday can cause an imbalance in vata dosha or over-using eyes can cause insomnia in pitta doshas.

Vata doshas should avoid over travelling.

Herbal treatments:

Brahmi is a wonderful herb for all doshas and it enables regeneration of brain cells which could be beneficial for Alzheimer’s.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that can release stress and is beneficial for all doshas.

Jatamansi is a brain tonic which is especially beneficial for vata dosha.

Shankpushpi is also a good brain tonic which can aid mental clarity.

Massaging ghee with brahmi on their head could be beneficial for alzheimer’s. However, this should be overseen by an ayurvedic practitioner.

Head and body massages are also good for circulation, removing toxins and improving blood flow.

A shirodhara massage is also a good treatment for anxiety.

Ashwagandha moon milk could also be beneficial for vata and pitta doshas.

And that brings us to the end of our series on Ayurveda. I hope you found all of the three parts useful and perhaps we may do another one soon! x

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