Managing Anxiety with Ayurveda


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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Claire White
Claire White
I have just completed a 10 day retreat at Sen Wellness and having researched many options, I was drawn to this but it was way beyond my expectations, it was amazing. The yoga by Frances and the monk was incredible, the doctors were kind and helpful and all the staff could not have been more helpful. Special mention to treatments from Tanisha and the manager Sanath who got me out on the beach one evening to see the mother turtles. A dream come true in so many ways, left feeling refreshed,so much healthier in body and mind!! I would highly recommend to anyone who needs a reset.
britta barth
britta barth
I had a wonderful stay and participated in the Signature Retreat. The resort is located in a very beautiful nature reserve. There is a beautiful beach for long nice walks and you also can see turtles.Meditation and Yoga were very also so good as were the ayurvedic treatments. I love it.The Signature Retreat led by Sam is a great, inspiring journey in itself - I can highly recommend.The ayurvedic food was delicious and the staff is great.I hope to go soon again to this wonderful place.Mandy thanks to Sam and his team at Sen Wellness Sanctuary. Britta
One of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my life. The 10-day retreat is the ultimate in relaxation. They feed you all your meals (delicious homegrown/homemade food), schedule yoga and daily spa treatments and hold special ceremonies throughout the week. The staff go above and beyond to make your experience deep, meaningful and heartfelt. The sanctuary is located in a jungle so be prepared to be immersed in wildlife! Monkeys, reptiles of all kinds, turtles on the beach, eagles/birds and more! I stumbled across this place researching Sri Lanka and it was truly meant to be. The faculties are stunning, comfortable and reasonably priced. Don’t miss an opportunity to come here!
Melanie Farfel
Melanie Farfel
A wonderful stay! The staff was so incredible and thoughtful throughout. I left feeling very rejuvenated. Thank you !
I had really nice experience at Sen Wellness for 8 nights. Here is in the middle of nature, we can feel that we are a part of nature and it is very natural to live with all kinds of animals and plants. I am now mentally and physically fit.What I really appreciated is food - healthy, everyday different menu, some vegetables that I have never seen… I felt that my feeling of taste transformed through my stay and skin condition and body condition became better.All people here is really kind and peaceful.Yoga teacher, Stefania, is a wonderful teacher, she is really knowledgeable and so kind to care all participants. I had enjoyed conversations with her at breakfast, lunch and dinner.Doctors, therapists are nice, I could ask questions and request whatever I feel comfortable.There are different types of rooms, I experienced the most luxury cabana and eco-cabana with Air Conditioning, too. Luxury cabana was awesome but I liked eco-cabana as well. It was an old facility but authentic, compact and I felt cozy. I was alone in the room so the space was enough for single use. If you wish to have luxury stay, I would recommend you to go for Luxury cabana.Everyone has different purpose and expectations. My purpose was feel nature, have simple life and feel appreciation of life. And it was fulfilled. Thank you so much for all Sen wellness team.
sunil damodar
sunil damodar
Went to Sen Wellness with family for a retreat, it was a nice spiritual and healthy experience. Fantastic team who were friendly and did everything possible to make it us feel special, great doctors and therapists and of course the daily yoga and one on one interaction with Sam was icing on the cake. Would recommend this to anyone looking for a great mix of spirituality, yoga, treatment and healthy eating. Look forward to my next one at Sen Wellness.
Jessica Crozier
Jessica Crozier
Sen Wellness is the perfect place to go to when you are exhausted by life and need a rest to get back to yourself and work through any difficulties you may be experiencing.There’s lovely yoga and meditation classes every day plus a set schedule which is a great way to structure your day of rest alongside tailored Ayurvedic treatments and healthy food.The place is for me perfect but it’s not like a 5 star hotel so if that’s what you are looking for it may be the wrong place for you.If you are lucky you’ll see some turtles as well.Samath and Francis are great managers and will make sure everything goes well.
Kumail Syedain
Kumail Syedain
Beautiful experience, beyond my wildest expectations. Would recommend to anyone interested in Ayurveda and healing
Neil Wadhawan
Neil Wadhawan
I was fortunate to lead a yoga retreat in early February of 2024. Everything was absolutely spectacular. Sen is a very special place with a beautiful energy that is perfect for retreat and healing.What really makes Sen so special are the people. Every single one of the staff members as well as the ayurveda doctors and all the managers were so kind and always trying to make each experience special. The entire team was led by Sanath and Frances and they were both absolutely wonderful. I can't possibly find enough kind words for both of them. Their leadership and warmth really allowed me to lead the retreat in the best way I could and they were always there for me whenever I needed. Thank you!
helen wright
helen wright
Sen wellness is a perfect sanctuary. The Ayurvedic retreat was insane - I loved every minute of it . Thank you
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