By: Jolanda Davies
Stress – “…a state of mental, emotional or other strain”
Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Eleventh Edition
“…any factor that threatens the health of the body or has an adverse effect on its functioning….the existence of one form of stress tends to diminish resistance to other forms. Constant stress brings about changes in the balance of hormones in the body”
– Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary, Seventh Edition
The word stress has been used in physics for hundreds of years; however seven decades ago it was redefined by Hans Selye, a brilliant Canadian stress researcher, as “the non-specific response of the body to a demand for change.”  p. iv. The word stress was part of vernacular speech and became a buzzword that signified different things to different people. Some used it to refer to an annoying or distressful situation, while for others it was the resultant unpleasant emotional or physical symptoms that were experienced . Paul J. Rosch, the President of The American Institute of Stress, says their clinical and experimental research confirms that stress is all about the level of control one feels they have which is determined by perceptions and expectations, “many times we create our own stress due to faulty perceptions.”  p x.
“Too much stress hurts. It hurts relationships and work performance. It hurts health and quality of life. It hurts the enjoyment of yourself, others and life”  p. 2. In this paper I will discuss how developing the qualities of Sattva through the ancient sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga will benefit the body and the mind for the management of stress, developing control in day to day life, or indeed how to change ones perceptions and expectations.
The Effects of Stress
“Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way”  When you sense danger, Dr. Palmer says the body’s defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the „fight or flight‟ reaction, or the „stress response‟. “The stress response is the body‟s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges” . “Stress switches on brain circuits and hormones that prepare the body to protect itself in dangerous situations.”  p. 5
As people grow older they lose the emotional flexibility, to release and let go, therefore stress accumulates . “Your mind and brain hold onto past fears and disappointments and project future ones. Your emotions stay drained, and your nervous system stays strained. You get trapped in your stresses. When this happens, your heart feels dismayed and your spirit feels constricted.”  p. 3. Childre and Rozman discuss the body chemistry when stress is experienced. “A cascade of 1,400 different biochemicals is released by the body as soon as it senses stress. These hormones and neurotransmitters affect how you perceive and feel. High stress keeps your system bathed in stress hormones, which speeds up your biochemical aging clock, draining emotional buoyancy and physical vitality. Stress makes you feel like you are living to survive instead of to enjoy life. Your perceptions and feelings signal your body to release stress hormones into your system, depressing your mood and decreasing your ability to face the day‟s challenges.”  p. 85
The stress response also includes the activity of the adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands of the endocrine system. The adrenal medullas produce adrenaline which is released into the blood supply. Adrenaline increases both the heart rate, and the pressure at which the blood leaves the heart; dilates bronchial passages and dilates coronary arteries; skin blood vessels constrict and there is an increase in metabolic rate. Also gastrointestinal system activity reduces which leads to a sensation of butterflies in the stomach. . “Strong emotions, like anger or fear, release a lot of adrenaline into your system, but adrenaline doesn‟t stay in the bloodstream for long. This is why anger or fear can give you a surge of energy and a temporary high but leave you feeling drained afterward. Too much adrenaline, too many ups and downs, can lead to high blood pressure and burnout.”  p. 85
In a stressful situation, the anterior hypothalamus activates the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) into the blood which then activates the adrenal cortex to synthesise cortisol. In Dr. Palmer‟s description of the physiology of the stress response, he discusses the effects of cortisol. “Cortisol is an important hormone in the body. It has been termed „the stress hormone‟ because it is secreted in higher levels during the body‟s response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.”. While cortisol is an important hormone, “when you chronically produce more than you need, it can lead to a host of problems.
Over time excessive levels of cortisol can cause sleeplessness, loss of bone mass and osteoporosis, allergies, asthma, acid reflux, ulcers, low sperm count, redistribution of fat to the waist and hips, and fat build up in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease and numerous other diseases (McCarty, Barrios-Choplin, et al. 1998). All of these are the bodys efforts to protect itself.”  p. 86. Negative emotions fuel higher cortisol levels. This means “that every time you are anxious or angry, or even rehash a stressful situation, your brain signals your adrenal glands to pump more cortisol into your system. Excessive amounts of cortisol linger in the bloodstream for hours, which can tend to increase feelings of anxiety.”  p. 86. Too much cortisol also depresses the immune system, opening the door to infection and other diseases.  As a result the adrenal gland may malfunction which can result in tiredness with the muscles feeling weak; digestive difficulties with a craving for sweet, starchy food; dizziness; and disturbances of sleep . “Chronic stress can lead to excessive secretions of these hormones that can lead to both serious psychological effects (depression) and physiological effects (malaise and susceptibility to infections).”  p. 287
“Precipitating events or „stressful‟ life events can lead to depression in some people and discouragement in others. One is an illness and the other is a natural response to misfortune.” De Paulo says the answer to the question whether stressful life events cause depression is how the brain responds to environmental influences.
He says medical researchers who follow the teaching of the great psychologist Walter B. Cannon understand stress to mean the nervous systems hormonal and behavioural responses to intensively unpleasant conditions. However, he does point out that depression can lead to stress, “a person may already be depressed and not know it, and because of the depression will have excessive anxiety”, especially he says, in somewhere like the work place and may not be able to perform due to the anxiety which in turn leads to stress.  p. 65-66
Tortora and Grabowski discuss how stress can lead to certain diseases by temporarily inhibiting certain compounds of the immune system, and that people under stress are at a greater risk of developing chronic disease or dying prematurely. As an example they discuss Interleukin-1 (IL-1), a cytokine secreted by macrophages of the immune system, as an important link between stress and the immunity: “In response to infection, inflammation and other stressors, IL-1 stimulates the production of immune substances by the liver, increases the number of circulating white blood cells that are phagocytes, activates cells that participate in immunity, and induces fever. All these responses result in powerful immune response.” However, they go on to explain that “IL-1 also stimulates the secretion of ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone) which stimulates the production of cortisol, which not only provides resistance to stress and inflammation, but also suppresses further production of IL-1.”  p. 545
The American psychological Association say when you feel like you are losing control or feel overwhelmed, that you should pay attention to the body‟s warning signs,(as listed below). They say these are just some of the ways that your body tells you it needs maintenance and extra care. 
- Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Chest pains, rapid heart beat
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Loss of appetite or overeating „comfort foods‟
- Increased frequency of colds
- Lack of concentration or focus
- Memory problems or forgetfulness
- Short temper
- Anxiety 
The Mayo Clinic agrees also, saying “when you recognise common stress symptoms you can take steps to manage them.” They have divided the effects of stress into three categories; effects of stress on your body, effects of stress on your thoughts and feelings and the effects of stress on your behaviour. . Table 1 lists these effects in each category as laid out by the Mayo Clinic staff.
Table1: Effects of stress by Mayo Clinic staff
Effects of stress on your body
|Effects of stress on your thoughts and feelings
|Effects of stress on your behaviour
|Drug or alcohol abuse
|High blood pressure
|Lack of focus
The Sanskrit word guna means “quality or attribute – one of three qualities of Nature (Prakruti): sattva, rajas, tamas”  p. 10.6. Dr. David Frawley describes the relationship between Primal Nature or Prakruti and the three gunas, “Primal Nature, Prakruti, is not a homogenous substance but the seed ground of multiplicity….Prakruti holds in herself all the forms of creation which manifest through her three main qualities, the gunas of sattva, rajas, and tamas.”  p. 27. All forms of creation include the human being and all its levels of existence. When Prakriti manifests creation “the three qualities differentiate, with sattva giving rise to the mind, rajas generating the life-force, and tamas creating form and substance through which the physical body comes into being.”  p. 28. Before manifestation, Prakruti, the seed potential for creation, “holds these three qualities in equilibrium, in which rajas and tamas are merged into sattva,”  p. 28 because, “sattva is the balance of rajas and tamas, combining the energy of rajas with the stability of tamas.”  p. 34. Dr Frawley says that all objects in the universe consist of various combinations of the three gunas and that they are the most subtle qualities of Nature that underlie matter, life and mind and help us to understand our mental and spiritual nature and how it functions.  p. 30
Within Nature Rajas “is the active, stimulating or positive force that initiates change, disturbing the old equilibrium. Tamas is the obstructing or negative force which sustains previous activity. Sattva is the neutral or balancing force, harmonising the positive and the negative, which oversees and observes.”  p. 27. Dr Frawley says that all forces are necessary for ordinary activity.
However, these forces also have spiritual implications “which can either expand us into wisdom or contract us into ignorance.”  p. 29. “Sattva is the quality of light, love and life, the higher or spiritual force that allows us to evolve in consciousness.” When cultivating this force, Sattva, we attain dharmic (true to our Nature) virtues of faith, honesty, self-control, modesty and truthfulness  p. 27. “Rajas is the quality of twilight, passion, and agitation, the intermediate or vital force, which lacks stability or consistency”  p.28. Cultivating rajas, David Frawley says “gives rise to emotional fluctuations of attraction and repulsion, fear and desire, love and hate.”  p. 28 Whereas Tamas is the quality or force of “darkness, non-feeling and death, the lower or material force” David Frawley says Tamas “drags us down into ignorance and attachment….causing dullness, inertia, heaviness, emotional clinging and stagnation.”  p. 28
These qualities of nature, in terms of the mind “make it possible to determine the general state of a person‟s consciousness.”  p. 254. Dr David Frawley in his book about the healing of consciousness says “for any real healing of the mind to be possible, we must understand these forces (the gunas) and learn how to work with them as they exist, not only in the world, but also in our own psyche.”  p. 30. Although the state of the gunas are present within the consciousness, they are, Dr Halpern says “reflected in the mind” and “the dominant guna is a reflection of the evolution of the soul as it grows from ignorance to awareness and from awareness to transcendence.”  p. 254. “Sattwa is known as mind. It controls the body by conjunction with the self. Psyche is of three types according to strength – superior, medium and inferior. Accordingly the persons are also (of three types) having superior, medium and inferior psyche. Amongst them, those having superior psyche are, in fact, sattwasara (with sattwa as essence). They are seen unmoved even in severe afflictions – innate or exogenous – due to predominance of sattwa quality.”  Vimanasthanam, Chap. III, verse 119, p. 382
Dr. Halpern uses the analogy of a lake to liken sattva guna to the mind. “Imagine a still lake early in the morning before the sun has risen. There is no wind and the lake looks like a sheet of glass or a mirror.”  p. 254. Ayurvedic theory describes the primordial cause of disease as “forgetting our True Nature as Spirit.” Dr. Halpern says once we have forgotten our True Nature as Spirit, we become dominated by the ego and we live our life as sensory beings, in constant pursuit of sensory pleasure. He says through this pursuit we tend to overindulge and this leads to a host of energetic and physical imbalances which lead to disease. A sattvic individual is “unattached to the physical world…..their minds are at peace and they appear happy and content….through clarity of the mind, the sattvic person sees nothing to be angry about, nothing to be sad about and nothing to fear. There is only unconditional love and absolute faith.”  p. 254. Just like the lake “when it is clear, pure and still, the light of the stars and the moon are reflected off it” so too is our True Nature as Spirit revealed, “when our mind is clear, pure and still, the light of God is reflected through it.”  p. 254. “It is the principle of clarity, wideness and peace, the force of love that unites all things together.”  p. 31
Manas prakruti is a term that defines the mental constitution and is described in terms of the three gunas (sattva, rajas and tamas). “Sattva qualities of the mind are clarity, alertness, attentiveness, understanding, purity, compassion and co-operation. Rajas qualities include ambition, self-centeredness, selfishness and restlessness. Tamas qualities express in the mind as dullness, gloominess, sadness, depression and laziness”  174. To be freed from this material world of rajas and tamas, Vasant Lad says there needs to be release from tamas and rajas by controlling desire, temptation, agitation and lethargy. “The mind should be pure, which is sattva. Sattva will bring clarity, purity and insight.”  p. 175. However, Lad goes on to explain “to create balance, sattva, rajas and tamas must be balanced which means having a balanced diet, moderate amount of sleep (tamas), moderate levels of activity (rajas) and moderate meditation (sattva)”  p. 176. Rajas is responsible for movement, but we should have Sattvic movement, which is good conduct. Tamas is inertia, but we need Sattvic inertia, which is sound sleep. Samadhi or absorption is a state of balance between the gunas. A state which is beyond these qualities because the three gunas are so balanced that they merge into prakruti, which merges into Purusha (realisation of the True Nature as spirit). Manas prakruti is therefore the mental constitution when the gunas are balanced and in a state of nirguna. 
Dr. Halpern comments on the lack of clarity (sattva) within the mind. He says rajas and tamas are the true causes of mental disease and hence disease begins when a person forgets their true nature as Spirit. This causes imbalances, which are perceived in the mind as disturbing emotions. These emotions are disturbances in prana1, tejas2 and ojas3 and they ultimately lead to imbalances in the physical body via vata4, pitta5 and kapha6. Dr. Halpern says that healing is through the cultivation of sattva to make the mind clear and pure so the memory of one‟s true nature is restored and a person is empowered to act harmoniously.  The process of cultivating sattva occurs through all five senses through proper lifestyle.
Manas vikruti is the unbalanced mental state. Dr. Vasant Lad lists five main causes of manas vikruti:
1. Inappropriate diet
2. Inappropriate lifestyle
3. Lack of clarity in relationships
4. Repressed emotions
5. Stress  Dr. Vasant Lad says psychological stress is caused by not being in the present moment as it is. Instead “in the present moment we see „what is‟ and immediately we create stress by seeing the opposite of this which is „what should be,‟ „could be‟ and „would be‟ ”  p. 184. However, he says these are mere emotions and „what is‟ is reality and „what should be‟ is illusion, yet, he says, we always run after the illusion and this is a cause of manas vikruti. “manas prakruti is the now, the present…‟should be,‟ „could be‟ and „would be‟ are the shadows of manas vikruti.”  p. 184. He says we have to surrender to the eternal present. Vasant Lad also talks of emotional stress which is “a reaction from the past to the perception and sensation of the present.”  p. 184. When the past meets the present it is bound to cause a reaction in the form of emotion. The past is gone and dead, whereas the present is now, fresh and alive. “If we are not happy with the present, the past suddenly creates what „should be,‟ „could be‟ and „would be,‟ trying to overlay the present, “this is how human beings live in the past”  p. 184 which as Vasant Lad says causes stress.
To cultivate sattva guna, to move from manas vikruti to manas prakruti, Dr Frawley says that Yoga and Ayurveda emphasise its development. Yoga practice he says has two stages: the development of sattva guna (purification of mind and body) and transcendence of sattva (going beyond the body and mind to our True Self – comes from higher meditation practices). He quotes that “sattva body and mind are less likely to suffer from disease and more able to continue in a state of balance.”  p. 30.” Sattva guna is the key to Ayurvedic healing and is developed through right diet, physical purification, control of the senses, control of the mind, mantra and devotion.” David Frawley says that disease is a tamasic state and brings about the accumulation of negative thoughts and emotions on a psychological level, as well as toxins and wastes on a physical level. “Health is a Sattvic state of balance and adaptation which prevents any excess from occurring.”  p. 30.
Dr. David Frawley discusses the functions of the mind and “understanding the gunas of the mind and changing them from tamas to sattva is the key to mental health.”  p. 138. He lists how sattva manifests in the layers of the mind as shown in Table 2.
|Function of the mind
|Inner peace, selfless love, faith, joy, devotion, compassion, receptivity, clarity, good intuition, deep understanding, detachment, fearlessness, inner silence, clear memory, calm sleep, right relationships
|Discrimination between the eternal and the transient, clear perceptions, strong ethics, tolerance, non0violence, truthfulness, honesty, clarity, cleanliness
|Good self-control, control of senses, control of sexual desire, ability to endure pain, ability to withstand the elements (heat & cold), detachment from the body, does what one says
|Spiritual idea of self, selflessness, surrender, devotion, self-knowledge, concern for others, respect for all creatures, compassion
Ayurveda is a system of healing that has its roots in ancient India. It is thought by many scholars to be the oldest healing system extant on the planet. Knowledge of Ayurveda originates in the Sanskrit language and the term Ayurveda comes from the roots „Ayus’ and „Veda’ – ayus meaning life and veda meaning knowledge, hence Ayurveda is the Knowledge of life. Dr. Vasant Lad states that the knowledge contained in Ayurveda deals with the nature, scope and purpose of life, and includes its metaphysical and physical aspects – health and disease, happiness and sorrow, pain and pleasure. He says “Ayurveda defines life as the conjunction of body, mind and spirit, found in Cosmic Consciousness and embracing all of creation.”  p. 1. Hence, there is no part of our existence that Ayurveda does not address. “Mind, self and body – these three make a tripod on which the living word stands. That (living body) is Purusa (person), sentinent and location of this Veda (Ayurveda). For him alone this Veda is brought to light.”  Sutrasthana, Ch. I, verse 46-47, p. 6. The knowledge of Ayurveda was revealed through the hearts of the enlightened rishis (seers), “it is not a creation made by the mind of man but rather a revelation from the hearts of meditative sages.”  p. 3. Students came to study with them, and the rishis imparted knowledge as they experienced it in deep states of meditation.
The term „knowledge of life‟ is not simply the understanding of the facts of life but it is a deep knowing of Truth, “to know something means to become one with the knowledge”  p. 3. To have health means to become one with the knowledge of the self. In Sanskrit, the word for perfect health is svastha. The term comes from the root sva meaning self and stha meaning established, therefore the term svastha, for perfect health, means established in the self.  p. 4, Being established in the Self is to have a deep knowing of the Truth of the Self which brings about svastha.
“Health is the natural end result of living in harmony. Disease is the natural end result of living out of harmony. Healing is the process of returning to harmony.”  p. 2. “In Ayurveda sattva guna is the state of balance that makes healing happen.”  p. 29. In order to have perfect health sattva guna must be developed, it is “the key to Ayurvedic healing” and can be developed “through right diet, physical purification, control of the senses, control of the mind, mantra and devotion.”  p. 30. By cultivating sattva guna “a person grows and evolves, awareness increases….further growth and evolution (of the soul) leads to higher states of awareness and realisation of God. This is sattva.”  p. 258.
In his definition of disease Dr. Halpern says understanding what health is, disease can be understood as its opposite. “Disease is anything less than perfect health…Any disturbance of a person‟s peace of mind and well-being, no matter how slight, implies disease.”  p. 5. The Caraka Samhita quotes, “perverted, negative, and excessive use of time, intelligence and sense objects is the threefold cause of both psychic and somatic disorders.”  Sutrasthana, Ch. I, verse 54, p. 7. Ayurvedic concepts define disease not only as physical, but as subtle and spiritual also. It states the primordial cause of disease as “forgetting our true nature as spirit”  p. 6. Dr Halpern explains this loss of awareness is forgetting that a part of God resides within each of us. He says this piece of God is the principle of atman7 in Sankhya8 philosophy, “it is our spirit or soul.”  p. 6. Dr. Halpern says once we forget our true nature as spirit, we understand ourselves only as body and mind, and become wrapped up in the stories and dramas of the physical world which results in disturbances of the mind and mental tranquillity. These disturbances cause challenging emotions to rise and upset the biological energies that control the body which results in physical disease.  p. 6. The Caraka Samhita quotes “the object (of Ayurveda) is to protect the health of the healthy and to alleviate disorders of the diseased.”  Sutrasthana, ch. XXX, verse 26, p. 240.
Achieving perfect health through Ayurveda is “related almost directly and proportionally to proper lifestyle and state of mind”  p. 1. This proper lifestyle “is an art of daily living that has evolved from practical, philosophical and spiritual illumination rooted in the understanding of Creation”  p. 1. “As health improves, with proper lifestyle and a peaceful state of mind, life expands with equal tenacity.” p. 1. Ayurveda provides the insight for each person to create a way of life that is in harmony both with the world of nature and our higher Self.  p. 4. Ayurveda considers proper lifestyle to surround the three pillars of life and through this sattva is cultivated.  p. 332.
The three pillars of life are; proper management of food and digestion, proper management of sleep and proper management of sexual energy. “Through proper digestion our bodies are able to distract, from the food, all of the nutrients present as well as the life energy (prana1). The end result of proper digestion is ojas3, a subtle energy that protects the body and mind from disease.”  p. 54. Proper digestion is achieved by eating the ideal food choices for each individual‟s unique constitution9 and consuming it following the Ayurvedic guidelines of healthy eating.
Sleep, the second pillar, is essential for the well-being of any person. The body uses sleep as an opportunity to use its energy for healing and repairing any damage to the body that accumulated during the waking hours. If the body does not receive enough sleep it cannot repair the damage caused by stress and strain. Too little sleep results in weakening of the body tissues, while too much sleep results in tissues that become excessive, stagnant, lethargic and immobile. 
The third pillar, the management of sexual energy is important because sexual release is understood to reduce the energy available for supporting the healing of the body and mind. Excessive sexual indulgence can leave a person in a weakened and exhausted state. Sexual energy called shukra is needed to build ojas3, the energy that provides stability to the body and mind and underlies the strength of the immune system. When shukra is depleted, ojas3 becomes depleted as well.  p. 54-55. “diet, sleep and celibacy, if these three are observed properly and thus the body is supported well by these pillars, it continues well endowed with strength, complexion and development till the completion of lifespan.”  Sutrasthana, Ch XI, verse 35, p. 75.
Creating balance by structure in life helps reduce the effects of stress says Robert Svoboda  p. 123. He says that stress, or rather an improper reaction to stress can cause disease and it impairs the ability of the immune system. Stress occurs every time you have to adapt to a new situation. Every time your environment, physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual surroundings change, you must change along with it and develop a new equilibrium with it. Your resilience, your ability to cope with the change, is your immune system, and as stress increases, strain on the immune system grows. When the strain becomes too great the immune protection fails, this is due fundamentally to a weakness of ojas3. . Ojas3 is a substance that can be produced, collected and stored and is the “foundation of your physical immunity, and produces your aura8. Your aura8 is your first line of defence from the outside. It is a buffer against all the negativity which is consciously and unconsciously projected against us each day…The weaker your aura8, the less stress you can simply shrug off and ignore.”  p. 125. “Ayurveda believes that routine discipline, for body and mind, actively strengthens immunity”  p. 99. Dr. Halpern discusses the importance of daily routines, habits and rhythms saying they are the single most important determinant of well-being. Healthy habits create a healthy life; unhealthy habits create an unhealthy life. “It is here in the lifestyle that the causative factor of disease is identified. Thus healing occurs by correcting the habits that are causing ill-health and adopts habits that bring about harmony and healing.”  p. 448. “He who constantly thinks of (reviews, examines) how his day and night are passing (and adopts the right way only) will never become a victim of sorrow.”  Sutrasthana, Chp. II, verse 47, p. 31.
Ayurvedic concepts describe the physiology of the body being governed by three main forces, which are commonly known as the three doshas. “Although dosha literally means faulty or to cause harm, they only do so when they are functioning abnormally. When functioning normally, they maintain the good health of the body and guide all the normal bodily processes.”  p. 69. The three doshas are vata4, pitta5 and kapha6 and the “human constitution9 or prakruti, is the inherent ideal balance of the three doshas within the individual.”  p. 71. Dr. Halpern says this ideal balance is determined at conception and does not change throughout a person‟s lifetime. Vikruti is the nature of the imbalance, “anything other than balance, present at the moment of conception, creates disease, vikruti defines the nature of the disease and healing is the process of returning the vikruti to the state of prakruti.”  p. 100.
Ayurveda and Yoga emphasise a pure vegetarian or what is called a sattvic diet – a diet to encourage the development of sattva, the higher qualities of peace, love and awareness. Ayurveda emphasises right diet as the foundation of all healing therapies, it is the first and most important form of medicine. Ayurveda recommends Sattvic food because sattva creates balance, eliminates harmful factors and helps reduce all the doshas.  David Frawley says, with ahimsa (non-harming) being the basis of sattva “a sattvic diet is first of all vegetarian, avoiding any products that involve killing or harming of animals, Sattvic diet emphasises natural foods, foods grown in harmony with nature, on good soils, ripened naturally, cooked in the right manner and with the right attitude of love. Such foods are carriers of prana1 and consciousness.”  p. 168. Ayurveda prescribes dietary regimens for the different doshas. . “Strength and life depend on diet.”  Vimanasthanam, Chp III, verse 120, p. 382
Herbs are used to nourish and repair the body and the mind. “Nervines are herbs that strengthen the functional activity of the nervous system. They may be stimulants or sedatives and can be used to correct excesses or deficiencies of nervous function. They have a strong action on the mind and are useful in promoting mental health and clarity as well as aiding in the treatment of psychological imbalances and mental diseases.”  p. 66. Many of these herbs are fragrant because “aromatic herbs work directly on prana1, the prime energy of the nervous system……they open the mind and senses, clear the channels, relieve congestion, stop pain and restore the smooth flow of energy in the mind-body system”  p. 67. Frawley and Lad comment that vata4 emotions, experienced with stress, like fear and anxiety damage the nerves and cause insomnia, mental instability, nerve pain, cramping and numbness which may lead eventually to the wasting away of nerve tissue. “Most nervines particularly those that are aromatic move vata4 and so help remove the obstructed vata4 or life energy behind these disorders.”  p. 67. However, they also point out that vata4 nervous conditions require nutritive herbs when there is deficiency of nerve tissues and therefore the use of nerve tonics are appropriate.
They go on to talk of the pitta5 type emotions, which are experienced during stress, such as anger, hatred, envy, which heat up the blood, liver and heart, “they can cause hypertension, insomnia, irritability and other nervous and mental imbalances. They can also burn out the nerves, a condition of high pitta5, aggressive, „business executives‟ life style.”  p. 68. Frawley and Lad mention that often these pitta5 conditions can be treated with bitter tonics or purgatives, but most of the herbs that act upon the mind are cooling in energy, “this is because the mind is unbalanced largely by negative emotions, which are like pitta5, and create heat. A calm and clear mind is usually a cool mind.”  p.68.
Kapha6 nervous conditions are more a matter of dullness, lethargy and hypoactivity of the nervous system, suffering from greed, desire and attachment, clinging to the past. In terms of the mind and nerves kapha6 requires stimulation. Frawley and Lad recommend nervines that are aromatic, stimulating and decongesting. .
“Oil massage (Abhyanga) is an important Ayurvedic therapy, not only for physical but for psychological conditions. Oil massage is calming to the mind, nurturing to the heart, and strengthening to the bones and nerves.”  p. 201. Dr. John Douillard comments on the goals of Ayurvedic massage, “to prepare the koshas12 to facilitate the flow of consciousness and shakti13 through each of these fields.”  p. 24. He says “when the subtle bodies are balanced, then each sheath or kosha – including all aspects of mind, body, spirit and emotions – can function up to its full harmonious potential.”  p. 24. Dr Douillard discusses the benefits of Shirodhara as one of the most powerful treatments to relieve vata4 in the mind. “When vata4 is in excess the mind can easily become over stimulated. Preoccupied with swarming thoughts, the mind has a difficult time slowing down. This can lead to an inability to handle stress, creating nervousness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, psychological disorders and more. Shirodhara is the specific treatment for these disorders and any other disorder that is stress related. Shirodhara works mainly in the manomaya kosha, or mental sheath. It is here that the mind holds onto past impressions that create imbalanced desires (vasanas) and habitual patterns of behaviour (samskaras). As oil is poured on the forehead, the nervous system is deeply stilled.”  p. 271.
Pancha Karma is the main Ayurvedic method of physical purification. “Owing to the subtle nature of its processes, it penetrates deep into the nervous system. It is useful for psychological problems caused by excess of the three doshas. Yet it can also be helpful for psychological problems caused by internal factors, emotions and karma.”  p. 203. Ayurveda also utilises subtle therapies such as colours, gems and aromas to alter sensory input so to control the mental and emotional condition. 
Dr. David Frawley describes Yoga as one of the most extraordinary spiritual sciences that mankind has ever discovered. “It is like a gem of great proportions, containing many facets whose light can illumine the whole of our lives with great meaning”  p. 3. It dates back over five thousand years and Frawley says “it is one of the few spiritual traditions that has maintained an unbroken development throughout history.”  p. 3. It covers and comprehends the whole of the human existence, “from the physical, sensory, emotional, mental and spiritual to the highest Self-realisation.”  p. 3. The methods used are “physical postures, ethical disciplines, breath control, sensory methods, affirmations and visualisations, prayer and mantra, and complex meditative disciplines.”  p. 4
Within his Yoga Sutras Patanjali Maharishi compiled these methods into „The Eight Limbs of Yoga‟ or „Ashtanga Yoga.‟ These eight limbs form the systematic path of Raja Yoga. .Dr. Frawley describes as follows:
1. Yama – Rules of Social Conduct
2. Niyama – Rules of personal Behaviour
3. Asana – Physical Postures
4. Pranayama – Control of the Vital Force
5. Pratyahara – Control of the Senses
6. Dharana – Right attention or Control of the Mind
7. Dhyana – Meditation
8. Samadhi – Absorption
Yama and Niyama
Dr. Frawley says the Yamas and Niyamas are the dharmic (natural/true law that governs the universe) foundation of Yoga and Ayurveda.  p. 51 He lists the yamas or dharmic principles of social behaviour as follows:
- Ahimsa (non-violence)
- Satya (truthfulness)
- Asteya (non-stealing)
- Brahmacharya (control of sexual energy)
- Anabhinivesha (non-clinging)  p. 51
Swami Sivananda, in his commentaries on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, does not mention anabhinivesha but comments on Aparigraha (non-coveting), as does B.K.S Iyengar in his Light on Yoga. “Aparigraha is freedom from greed or covetousness. One should not try to keep or try to get in possession anything beyond the very necessaries of life.”  p.31. Dr. Frawley states that right social behaviour is important for health, psychological well-being and spiritual development. “If we follow these observances, we will have no harmful impact upon the world and not get entangled in external complications of wrong relationships or wrong possessions.” p. 51. The niyamas or dharmic principles of personal behaviour, as listed by Frawley, are as follows:
- Saucha (purity)
- Santosa (contentment)
- Tapas (self-discipline)
- Svadhyaya (study of the Self)
- Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to God)  p. 51
“These are the lifestyle principles necessary to establish a personal yogic practice in life. They are also the basis of Ayurvedic life regimens for constitution9 balancing….Yama and Niyama constitute the dharmic or ethical foundation for all right living……These two sets of principles go together. Unless we have integrity in our social interactions, we cannot have it in our personal behaviour and vice versa.”  p. 52. In the Astanga Hrdayam it cites a verse that too discusses moral behaviour, “compassion with all living beings, granting of gifts, controlling the activities of the body, speech and mind, feeling of selfishness in the interests of others (looking after the interests of others as his own) these are sufficient rules of good conduct (moral behaviour)”  Sutrasthana, Chp. II, verse 46, p. 31.
“By practicing them one develops agility, balance, endurance and great vitality. Asanas have been evolved over the centuries so as to exercise every muscle, nerve and gland in the body…….and they keep the body free from disease. They reduce fatigue and soothe the nerves. But their real importance lies in the way they train and discipline the mind.”  p. 20. Backing up his comment Iyengar goes on to talk of the health that is gained from the practice of asana. “It is a state of complete equilibrium, of body, mind and spirit.” “Purity of mind is not possible without purity of the body in which it dwells.”  p. 2.25.
Focusing on asana for health and awareness Dr. David Frawley says “asanas keep the body in the best possible health” and “release tension at a deep level from the tissues, organs and joints.”  p. 205. He says that asanas provide specific positions and movements to strengthen and stretch the musculature to effectively move the body away from small pains and illnesses back to perfect and normal balance.  p. 205. “While asana can be a discipline in its own right, asana as exercise or as therapy should not be confused with the role of asana in classical yoga……Asana is mainly meant to help reduce rajas or the quality of turbulence that disturbs the mind”  p. 206 and perhaps most importantly “they begin a systematic cleansing of the tissues”  p. 205. Emotional tension is always reflected somewhere in the body, “every mental knot has a corresponding physical knot and vice versa. The aim of asana is to release these knots. Asanas release mental tension by dealing with them on a physical level.”  p.11.
To understand how asanas can be of benefit to reducing symptoms of stress one must be aware of the mind body connection. Frawley talks about asana creating a free flow of energy in order to help direct our attention within, but he also says that this flow of energy can be focused on the body to treat its ailments. “Our physical posture affects our health, vitality and awareness. The mind-body complex consists of various interrelated channels – from those which carry food to those which carry thoughts. These channels are held together on a physical level by the musculoskeletal system, the shape of which is determined by our posture.”  p. 208. This is important for the healthy functioning of the mind and the body as “wrong posture creates various stresses, causing contractions that impair or block the proper flow through the channels. It inhibits the circulation of energy and nutrients while allowing toxins and waste materials to accumulate….As mind and body are interconnected, physical blockages intertwine with mental and emotional blockages and hold various addictions, compulsions and attachments.”  p. 208
“Ayurveda recommends asanas as its most important lifestyle recommendation….it also prescribes asanas as an important treatment measure for various diseases.”  p. 207. Dr. Halpern states that Ayurveda approaches asana from an understanding of individuality. “Asanas are categorised for their effects on vata4, pitta5 and kapha6 and takes into consideration the type of asana, as well as the flow and the speed in which it is practiced.”  p. 453. On discussing vata4 asanas Dr. Halpern says the important mobility quality of vata4 needs to be balanced and therefore asanas for vata4 imbalance should be practiced slowly with great attention to focus and detail. Proper practice helps bring focus to the vata4 mind. He goes on to say that standing poses emphasise stability and sitting poses are calming to the mind reducing anxiety. With Pitta5 asanas care should be taken not to overheat the body whereas kapha6 imbalances benefit from flow sequences with greater speed. . As with all imbalances “asanas bring harmony and balance to the physical body, particularly the musculoskeletal system that is the support of the body. Asana is part of the Ayurvedic treatment system for the physical body. Postures can be used to increase vitality or to balance the doshas. They can be adjusted to target certain organs or weak spots in the body.”  p. 52
Pranayama (control and expansion of vital energy)
“Prana1 means breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy or strength….Ayama means length, expansion, stretching or restraint. Pranayama thus connotes extension of breath and its control.”  p. 22. Iyengar talks of the yogi‟s life being measured by the number of breaths rather than the number of days and therefore the yogi will follow proper rhythmic patterns of slow deep breathing. “These rhythmic patterns strengthen the respiratory system, soothe the nervous system and reduce cravings.”  p. 22. These cravings are the mind displaying impurity. Iyengar says the mind is two-fold – pure and impure. “It is pure when it is completely free from desires and impure when it is in union with desires.”  p.23. Therefore from the practice of pranayama “desires and cravings diminish and the mind is set free”  p. 23. The benefits are physical too and Iyengar mentions a quotation that was often said by the seventeenth-century mystic Kariba Esken: “if you would foster a calm spirit, first regulate your breathing, for when that is under control, the heart will be at peace; but when breathing is spasmodic, then it will be troubled. Therefore, before attempting anything, first regulate your breathing on which your temper will be softened, your spirit calmed.”  p. 23 Sivananda teachers training manual discusses how prana1 connects the body and the mind, “the highest and most subtle manifestation of prana1 is thought. The grossest manifestation of prana1 in the human body is in the motion of the lungs. If the motion of the lungs is stopped, all other energy and movements in the body will stop automatically. In order to control subtle prana1, i.e. the thoughts, the yogi begins by controlling the breath.”  p. 2.25
Pranayama includes all ways of energising the vital force (prana1) through the body, senses and mind by developing and expanding the energy of the life force. Dr. Frawley says that prana1 is our energy and if we do not have sufficient energy we cannot do anything in life. “Pranayama provides this needed energy for both body and mind.”  p. 271 The various types of pranayama lead to a condition of energised relaxation, “when the breath is at peace, the life force is calmed and the senses, emotions and mind are put to rest. The disturbed movements of our vital urges cease to trouble us with their desires and fears.”  p. 272.
A number of research and clinical studies have pointed to the need for patent, well functioning nostrils to support mental and physical health. Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, in his discussion on nasal obstruction research, discovered the incidence of various ailments were greater in patients suffering from one sided nasal obstruction.  “The breath alternates cyclically from one nostril to the other approximately every ninety minutes. There is a period of three to four minutes in each ninety minute cycle when the breath crosses over from one side to the other”  p. 104. This is important because during this crossing over the breath flows equally through both nostrils, “and this is the period traditionally advocated for successful and spontaneous meditation.”  p. 105. Since meditation, in the broadest sense, involves “placing the mind in a calm and concentrated state”  p. 286. The breath must therefore be regular and relaxed to “induce relaxation, regularity, and integration of the body‟s rhythms and processes so that they work in harmony together.”  p. 101. If the breathing is irregular and tense this can lead to “disordered, mental activity and chaotic thinking pattern, as well as physical emotional and mental disease.”  p. 101.
There is a harmonising influence on the brain and the autonomic nervous system by the practices of pranayama. “The right side of the brain is activated when the left nostril is flowing, the left side of the brain is activated when the right nostril is flowing and whenever both nostrils flow equally, “every faculty of the human brain is functioning in an optimal and integrated manner.”  p. 106. “It is believed that during inhalation, the flow of air in each nostril stimulates specific unilateral autonomic nerve centres lying within and beneath the mucous membranes (in the nose). These specific stimuli subsequently influence the autonomic processes of respiration, circulation, digestion and so on.”  p. 107. Swami Niranjanananda suggests that the “autonomic nervous system, and its two complimentary components – the excitatory sympathetic nervous system (pingala nadi10) and the relaxatory parasympathetic nervous system (ida nadi11) – can be activated from the nasal mucous membrane region.”  p. 107. In this light, he says, we can begin to anticipate the far-reaching effects of yogic practices such as pranayama upon the whole autonomic nervous system, and hence upon the endocrine and physiological functions.  The subtle body is a field of energy. Through it, flows prana1 within subtle channels called nadis12. These channels permeate the entire subtle body. Dr. Halpern says the mind cannot function without the nadis and the nadis cannot exist without the mind, “the mind can be understood to be the sum total of all the nadis….the mind is the field and the nadis are the channels through which pranic energy flows.”  p. 275. The nadis energise the subtle body in a manner similar to the way the nervous system energises the physical body and “when the nadis are functioning properly, the mind is clear and vibrant.”  275. Dr. Halpern continues to discuss the relationship between the mind and flow through the nadis, “mind is the initiator of pranic movement….altered flow through the nadis will also affect the mind.” “When flow is normal, a person is emotionally stable.”  p. 275. Any imbalance of the doshas within the mind thus alters the flow through the nadis. This alters a person‟s enthusiasm, clarity, peacefulness and bliss. To restore balance pranayama methods are used for working with the subtle energies of the body (prana1, tejas2 and ojas3) and influencing the flow of prana1 through the nadis.  Dr. David Frawley says pranayama, specifically alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana or anuloma viloma), is an important key to physical and mental health because it keeps the nadis clear and maintains a balanced flow between Ida11and Pingala.10 He says the “left nostril is lunar or kapha13 predominant, promoting the breath through it increases bodily tissues, Ojas3 (basis of the immune system) and gives nourishment to the outer mind.”  p. 276. He lists some of the effects of stress that are counteracted from left nostril breathing; insomnia, anxiety, anger and agitation (restlessness). The right nostril is solar and promoting the breath through it “increases courage and motivation…and counters poor digestion, depression and laziness.”  p. 227.
“Therefore pranayama should be done daily with a sattwic state of mind so that the impurities are driven out of Sushumna nadi and purification occurs”
Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 2, verse 6
Pratyahara (control of the senses)
If there is rhythmic control of the breath through pranayama one will be able to prevent the senses from running after external objects of desire, this is done through the fifth stage of Yoga, control of the senses. To have purity of mind is not simply closing off the senses but to have right management of them and the ability to go beyond them, “it is not suppression of the senses but their right application, which includes the ability to put them to rest.”  p. 53 A Sattvic mind is one that is pure, when all desires and fears are annihilated, but there is impurity when the mind is in bondage with objects of desires. Iyengar says “the yogi knows that the path towards satisfaction of the senses by sensual desires is broad, but that it leads to destruction”  p. 25. In his book about the healing of consciousness, Dr. Frawley more accurately describes pratyahara as a “withdrawal from distraction,” rather than a withdrawal of the senses, which means detaching the mind from the impulses deriving from the senses, without this control the mind becomes fragmented and we have no internal stability.  p. 280. Pratyahara restores the proper relationship between the mind and the external world and cuts off the reception of negative influences and in turn opens up the reception of positive influences from within.  p. 283.
Control of the senses is keeping the mind aloof from the senses and in control of their input. . One of the three main causes of disease in Ayurveda is „the unwholesome conjunction of the senses with the objects of their affection‟. “Our senses are the vehicles through which we relate to the world around us.”  p. 7 Dr. Halpern describes the senses as “portals, or gateways, into our body, our mind and our consciousness.”  p. 7. The constant intake of energetic and physical impressions are either “harmonious or disharmonious in relation to a person‟s constitution9 and thus can take a person toward harmony and health or toward disharmony and disease.”  p. 7. Dr. David Frawley says wrong use of the senses may be excessive, deficient or improper and how we use our senses determines the kind of energy we take in from the external world. . Ayurveda uses the five sense therapies to bring about healing through the senses; “taste therapy in the form of diet and herbs, touch therapy in the form of massage, visual therapy in the form of colours, sound therapy in the form of mantra and smell therapy in the form of aromatherapy.”  p. 7 Ayurveda also prescribes „spending more time in nature‟, “this allows for peaceful harmonious impressions to enter consciousness through all five senses. In nature the fresh wind caresses the skin, the smells of flowers and trees caress the nose, the sights of mountains, streams, trees, flowers and ocean caress the eyes and the sounds of birds, wind and water caress the ears.”  p. 333
Intellectual blasphemy (the failure of the intellect or crimes against wisdom) is another cause of disease outlined in the Caraka Samhita. This is failure to follow what we know to be true to bring health and peace of mind. Dr. Halpern gives examples of staying up too late, eating too much, eating the wrong food. The intellect is connected to both the senses and the soul, the senses lead it astray while the soul leads it to harmony, however, “the whispers of the soul are hard to hear over the ruckus of the senses, hence we usually follow our senses desires. Ayurveda uses Yoga to train the intellect to listen deeply and hear the voice of the soul, when the voice is heard there is awareness of the connection to God”  p. 8 Dr Halpern says this connection fills the listener with spiritual energy that empowers them to overcome the temptations of the senses.  The Caraka Samhita cites a short quote which sums up the importance of controlling the senses, “the cause of happiness (health) is only one – balanced use (of the senses)”  Sarirasthanam, Ch. I, verse 129, p. 408.
Dharana (control of the mind)
The sixth stage is reached “when the body has been tempered by asanas, when the mind has been refined by the fire of pranayama and when the senses have been brought under control by pratyahara.”  p. 27. David Frawley explains this as right attention, the capacity to bring all our mental energy, at will, to whatever we need to examine. Therefore dharana involves developing and extending our power of attention  p. 53. In the second Yoga sutra Patanjali, says what Yoga is, „Yogas chitta-vrtti-nirodhah’ – “Yoga is restraining the activities of the mind.”  p. 140. In order to achieve the true peace of Union (uniting the individual with the Universal Soul  p. 140 .i.e. realising True Nature) it is the mind and nothing else, that must be corralled and controlled. When the peace of Union is achieved the state of mind is unruffled and calm in all situations.  p. 140. “The quality of our attention in life determines our state of mind.”  p. 283. Dr. Frawley says the methods used some are the same as those in pratyahara, but pratyahara gathers the energy of the mind; then dharana focuses it.  Dhyana (Meditation)
David Frawley explains that meditation is not actually a technique, in-fact meditation techniques more properly belong to pratyahara or dharana. “True meditation is the natural state of awareness, not a method. But this requires some preparation to reach, indicated by the other limbs of yoga”  p. 54 Therefore meditation is a state that is reached through techniques involved in pratyahara and dharana. Dharana sets our intention on a particular object and dhyana holds it there, as Frawley says “sustained dharana in time becomes dhyana.”  p. 289. Therefore sustained attention or “a continuous flow of perception (or thought) is Dhyana.”  p. 154. To get to this stage, Sivananda explains, “there must be a gradual ascent in the stages of Yoga.”  p. 155. Dr. Frawley agrees with this saying “true meditation cannot be achieved by a restless or emotionally disturbed mind. It requires properly developed concentration, which itself rests on control of the body, senses, vital force and mind.”  p. 290 Thus it is necessary to practice all the stages of Yoga as laid out by Patanjali.
The tools or techniques that are generally used to begin meditation, Frawley says, are prayer, mantra, pranayama or visualisation, from this, formless meditation can proceed, like sitting in silence, practicing self-inquiry, or performing devotional meditation.  p. 289. Meditation with form employs the same techniques as pratyahara and dharana, holding the mind on a particular object, but sustained over a longer period and that any object which draws the mind can be used, he gives examples of a form in nature, a deity2, a guru, yantra3 or a mantra.  p. 289. Formless meditation involves sustained awareness on truth principles such as „all is the Self‟ or on the Void which transcends all objectivity.  p. 289. Whatever the „object‟ B.K.S. Iyengar says “the mind when it contemplates an object is transformed into the shape of that object.”  p. 30. Thus contemplation on Pure Consciousness (True Nature) “there is no other feeling except a state of SUPREME BLISS…..He sees the light that shines in his own heart.”  p. 30
This all depends on the predominance of sattva guna within our entire nature otherwise, “to simply try not to think is to put ourselves into a blank state, in which our consciousness is not transformed but merely put to sleep.”  p. 290. For this reason, we must first purify our life and mind. David Frawley goes on to discuss the importance of meditation for the maintenance of stress. He says that much of what is referred to as meditation today is more properly pratyahara (like visualisation) or dharana (concentration techniques) and such techniques are useful for calming the mind, “stress is an accumulation of tension in the mind. Meditation, expanding the mental field, relieves it.”  p. 291. Ayurveda prescribes meditation as a way of increasing sattva as a principle of treating mental disease. “Most forms of meditation create greater stillness in the mind and deeper awareness. In stillness, a person cannot help but see past the illusions of creation and connect more deeply with spirit.”  p.333
“At the peak of his meditation he passes into the state of Samadhi, where his body and senses are at rest as if he is asleep, his faculties of mind and reason, are alert as if he is awake, yet he has gone beyond consciousness. The person in a state of Samadhi is fully conscious and alert.”  p. 31. “Samadhi is our capacity to merge with things in consciousness that shows our joy and fulfilment in life.”  p. 54
“To have sattva predominant in our nature is the key to health, creativity and spirituality. Sattvic people possess a harmonious and adaptable nature which gives the greatest freedom from disease, both physical and mental. They strive toward balance and have peace of mind that cuts off the psychological root of disease. They are considerate of others and take care of themselves.”  p. 34. Sattva creates balance, eliminates harmful factors and helps reduce all the doshas and as Dr Halpern mentions, anything other than balance of the doshas, creates disease. . As described, stress has many potentially harmful effects on the body, mind, emotions and behaviour, which effectively speaking in Ayurvedic terms, is an imbalance of one, two or all three doshas.
Vasant Lads comment, discussed on page 9, stress can be caused by not living in the present moment as it is, backs up Paul J. Rosch‟s experiments, (as discussed on page 2), which demonstrated stress is all about the level of control one feels they have which is based on their perceptions and expectations. Not being happy in the present moment is only a result of perceptions and expectations of what the present moment „should be‟.
Creating sattva through Yoga and leading an Ayurvedic lifestyle brings about awareness of the Self. To get here there must be perfect health. Perfect health or svastha, is achieved by being established in the Self, being established in the self is having a deep knowing of the Truth of the Self, knowing the Truth of the Self is realising that a part of God or atman7 resides within us. This level of clarity can only be obtained with a Sattvic body and mind; “unless the mind is calm and clear, we cannot perceive anything properly. Sattva creates clarity, through which we perceive the truth of things.”  p. 32. To be able to perceive the truth of things has been declared to take away all the miseries and pain of life. . Practicing the techniques of Yoga and Ayurveda allows the mind to be calm, the senses to be brought under control and the body, mind and spirit to be purified, the body in this state of svastha is not attached to the illusions of „what should be‟ or „what could be‟ but instead accepts „what is‟ as the truth of the present moment is clear.
“Yoga and Ayurveda emphasise the development of sattva.”  p. 29.