Managing Anxiety with Ayurveda

Manage Anxiety

Everyone encounters anxiety at one point or another.  

Some anxiety is essential – an evolutionary tool that protects us from danger and allows us to anticipate obstacles. However, in modern-day culture, anxiety feels less protective. More often than not, anxiety disturbs our inner peace and prevents us from reaching our highest potential.

Anxiety can be a topic that is “taboo” for many. Luckily it is becoming less stigmatized and for a good reason. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder worldwide. Data from the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that anxiety affects nearly 30% of adults at some point.

So what is anxiety?

Anxiety is classically described as a feeling of being “ungrounded.” 

From an Ayurvedic perspective, anxiety stems from an imbalance in the Vata dosha. A Vata imbalance yields too much energy in the mind and not enough at the feet. Thus, when Vata is disturbed, you feel disconnected from the earth.

An imbalance of Vata energy can manifest as:

  • Erratic thoughts
  • Worries
  • Obsession
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Hyper-excitable nervous system
  • Trouble sleeping

Anxiety is one of the most common reasons people seek holistic and alternative modalities. The good news is that the brain is incredibly malleable, meaning we can change our thoughts and rewire our brains. When we focus on restoring balance to our three doshas using alternative modalities, we pave the way for a calm mind and life.

While navigating anxiety, it is essential to calm your energy, calm your nervous system, connect to your body and the earth, and surrender to the present moment. Indeed, overcoming anxiety is no easy feat, but it is essential to anchor yourself to the concreteness of the present before diving into the work. In approaching your anxiety this way, you will learn how to harness and use your anxiety as a force for good.

Techniques to manage anxiety:

Ground your energy in nature

The vital role of nature is a part of ancient Ayurveda and is backed by science! Time in nature is grounding and inherently harmonizing. Put your bare feet on the earth or touch a tree for at least a few minutes daily.

Time in nature is also an incredible way to combat and manage stress.


If you learn to control your mind while seated on the meditation cushion, you can more easily manage your mind in any outside situation.

In meditation, you become humbled by the strength of your thoughts. You learn to be compassionate to the struggle—the struggle to have a moment of stillness and the struggle to have peace for the rest of your life. The gift of struggle is surrender. It is the ultimate antidote to resistance. And it is also crucial in the healing of anxiety.

Try sitting in meditation for 5 minutes. Imagine your thoughts as clouds pass through the sky. Allow your thoughts to come and go until your mind becomes still. Try mantra singing or guided meditation if you struggle sitting in silence.


One of the most popular treatments we offer at the Sanctuary is Shirodhara. Shirodhara comes from the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (flow). It is a traditional Ayurvedic body therapy where a steady, gentle stream of warm oil is continuously poured over the forehead to help soothe and heal a frayed nervous system. Read more about our retreats here.

According to Ayurvedic teachings, gentle but constant oil application stimulates healthy blood circulation to the brain and pituitary gland. At the same Time, certain added herbs and essences can relieve symptoms of anxiety, migraines, insomnia and neuralgia.


Sama Vritti is the expression used to describe a balanced breath. Anxiety activates the fight-or-flight portion of your nervous system; when you engage in deep and rhythmic breathing, you activate the vagus nerve and turn on your parasympathetic nervous system—which, in turn, can pump the brakes on anxiety. 

Breathwork is an incredible tool; nobody can do it “wrong.” Here are a couple of great exercises.

Ayurvedic Herbs 

Holy Basil- also known as tulsi in Ayurveda protects against chemical, emotional, and physical stress. Holy basil has numerous benefits, including anti-anxiety, mild anti-depressant, antioxidant, and anti-stress/adrenal protective effects. It also has anti-viral properties, pain-relieving properties, and blood glucose stabilization properties.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the best Vata-balancing herbs. It is soothing, grounding, and warming.

Our highest intention is to provide you with tangible techniques and accessible information. We hope that one or more of these techniques resonate with you. You are always welcome to reach out with any questions.

Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health, and has been called ‘the best back specialist in the country’ by The Times (2014).

Sen Wellness Sanctuary is the result of Sam’s dream to support people in an even deeper way, and realising his vision of combining his experience working in the West with his Sri Lankan heritage, rooted in Ayurvedic traditions. His sensitive understanding of these different cultures, mindsets, challenges and needs is reflected in the authentic retreat centre he has created.

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Elisa Brugnera
Elisa Brugnera
I just came back after spending a week at Sen Wellness, and the experience was above my expectations.The location is beautiful, immerse in nature and with an amazing beach available.Yoga and meditation classes vary every day, and I can say I learnt so much.The main feedback I’d like to leave is about the team: all of them did everything in their power to make us guests happy, they personally cared about our wellbeing.I can say I came back relaxed, but also changed and nourished internally, I’m looking at problems with a different perspective.I am already planning to be back!
Pia Schmoeckel
Pia Schmoeckel
All I could have asked for in an Ayurveda retreat. Beautiful place and nature, with lovely people and a lot of thought and intention in the programs.
Richard S
Richard S
hat an incredible place and lovely team and special stay. Situated between the beach and the lagoon you are surrounded by wildlife and feel completely isolated from the outside world. The treatments, food and yoga/meditation work together to ensure an incredibly restorative and nourishing stay. Ten days seemed a good length of time to stay to maximise the benefits.Thank you to all the team at Sen for a magical stay
Mithi Thaya
Mithi Thaya
Heaven on earth. A must-visit if you wish to disconnect and self-connect.
I came for the second time to this place and it can never disappoint… a truly healing place where you can connect with yourself and with others. I have met some amazing people here both times I have come. The staff really care and worry about you. Thank you ♥️ the first time’s review (last year’s) is just below which still applies.Mind-blowing experience. I am so happy I came to this place - I was planning for 5 days and stayed 10! All the team made me feel like home since I arrived. The kitchen staff are super nice and the food is amazing and healthy! The doctor and masseurs listened to me and gave me a therapy adapted to my needs from the very first day. The doctor, managers and reception were also always there for everything I needed. The yoga teachers are amazing healers that guided me through my journey in the sanctuary and for my home. I know I’ll apply their yoga and spiritual teachings in mind for my daily life. On top of that, a monk comes every week to have a 1-to-1 session with you. Personally, this was a very productive session for me!Moreover, the mini pool in the beach has an amazing sunshine - I’d recommend everyone to go one morning when in here!Amazing place to reconnect with myself which is what I was looking for. I’ll definitely come back😊
Elaine Lynskey
Elaine Lynskey
The most nourishing, relaxing and healing week I have ever experienced in the most beautiful setting!! 7-day Ayurvedic and Yoga retreat left me feeling like a new person. I will definitely be returning.
Jill Long
Jill Long
My two trips to the Sanctuary were equally special. Both were in January, one in 2016 and then again in 2020. It was a perfect way to start the year. The sheer beauty of this part of Sri Lanka is restorative in itself, but when coupled with the luxury and care of the Sanctuary, it becomes a deeply healing experience. I will go back again as soon as I can.
Di Sherlock
Di Sherlock
I arrived exhausted and frazzled from a flight that had lost my bag in transit with the clothes I left London in and raging sinuses from the plane's insanely fierce aircon. Within days the sinus infection was healed with Ayurveda. This was the start of a 10 day healing journey that was pure magic. I stayed in an eco cabana - bed super comfy! - waking up to amazing birdsong. The nature here is lush (bring your mozzie spray!) , the complex open and airy, the food delicious (mainly veggie). Everyone on the team - from the Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners, the amazing manager, the chef and his crew, the yoga teachers to the boys who do the cleaning know what they're doing and radiate positive energy. Days are structured but the vibe is relaxed, open and easy. The Cacao ceremony was amazing. The Fire ceremony also. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Emma Chadwick
Emma Chadwick
I came to the sanctuary at a difficult time for me personally. I came home feeling mentally and physically restored. It was just the tonic for me.The sanctuary is set in a beautiful and peaceful location, a stone’s throw from the sea and never-ending empty beaches.I loved the daily yoga sessions - I had a brilliant teacher the week I was there - which has an open front so we often saw monkeys swinging by.But it were the Ayurvedic treatments and meals, made with fresh local produce, that were out of this world.The communal dining is such a great idea, particularly if you come on your own like I did. And the sanctuary is run by a fantastic and caring team who went out of their way to make my experience truly unforgettable.I really do hope to return again one day.
Stephanie U
Stephanie U
Sen Wellness is really a Sanctuary where you can really connect back to you, your body and nature. The 10 days Spring Retreat was so fantastic, the breathing, moving and the food was always great. The location is far off from everything and you pretty much have the beach to yourself. All the animals like baby turtles, monkeys, squirrels, peacocks combined with nature was just magical. Also all the staff took great care of everyone induvidually. I will definitly be back!!
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