De-stress at Ayurveda Pura
Dr Deepa Apte believes modern lifestyles are causing an increase in stress disorders.
At Ayurveda Pura, a recently opened spa in North Greenwich, she and her team use ancient Ayurvedic practices in a bid to combat this very modern affliction.
Dr Apte said: "The kind of jobs people do are not always causing the problem, it can be family, friends or social life.
"We are seeing signs of stress in teens and pre-teens. The pressures they are under put a strain on their systems. The clients I see often come with conditions such as high blood pressure and thyroid problems that are actually stress-related.
"We look at external influences and how they affect a particular body type. How a person reacts is down to their internal constitution.
"In Ayurveda we believe in mind over matter. Anything that affects the mind will affect the body. Stress is caused by impatience and an inability to find solutions."
Ayurveda works by identifying people's body types. The three types are Air, Fire and Earth or Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Those most prone to stress are Air (very restless and mobile) and Fire (very focused and determined and often short tempered).
Dr Apte said: "Fire personalities are impatient and want to find solutions.
"The increase in heat in the body causes sweating and breathlessness - that is fire and air together.
"To reduce stress these energies need to be pacified reducing the fire and air."
She said there were five main ways practitioners deal with stress in Ayerveda - food, herbs, massage, yoga and everyday lifestyle.
They are used to redress the balance of the elements in the body and break down as follows:
Dr Apte said: "There are six tastes - sweet, sour, salt, spicy, bitter and astringent. There are tastes that increase stress and should be avoided.
"Spicy, salty and bitter increase feelings of restlessness and as the heat in the body increases. Sweet and sour help to pacify and restore balance. Sweet flavours from nature such as fruit and vegetables rather than from chocolate or cakes are better."
"Massage is very good for reducing stress in the body. In Ayurveda we use oil therapies to calm down the mind by pacifying air and fire. Oil is heavy so it reduces fire. We never use anything cold, always warm.
"Touch through relaxing massage helps reduce air movement. The direction of hair growth - always away from the body to relax muscles. If you wanted an energising massage you would go against the direction of hair growth, increasing the energy in the body."
"When people get very stressed they forget to breathe and their lung capacity goes down.
"One of the best things to combat stress are breathing exercises. Yoga concentrates on breathing and positions such as cobra and fish extend the body, expanding the chest and letting more oxygen in.
"Oxygen helps to heal the damaged tissues in the body."
"Spices such as cumin, coriander powder and turmeric are very good.
"Drinking cumin tea is good for stress and high blood pressure and reduces air and fire. Ginger and Lemon tea is also very good to combat stress.
"Toxins build up in the body in a cheese-like substance, which needs to be broken down."
Life and Routine
"This combines all the other elements. You should concentrate on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking increases stress so things like eating and checking emails at your desk are out.
"I had a client who had been diagnosed with stress and chronic fatigue syndrome. It turned out she had all her work files in her bedroom so she was always looking at her work. The bedroom should only be for sleeping. It is about finding the triggers."
The spa offers yoga classes and one-day workshops on natural ways to de-stress.
These courses aim to explain how to "find out what the initial signs and symptoms of stress are along with simple ways on how to reduce stress in your life".
Dr Apte said last weekend's workshop attracted 35 participants.
Go to ayurvedapura.com for more details.