Keeping healthy NATURALLY
New year, newer perspectives: keeping healthy naturally with yoga and Ayurveda. By Priya Raghavan
Another new year to fill us with hope, excitement and positivity. Whether you make resolutions or not, it’s always a good idea to make a few plans at the start of each year, journal them, and then look back to check at the end of each month to see if you have made any progress.
Statistics suggest that the most popular new year goals include improving fitness, losing weight or improving diet. Here are some ideas to help you achieve all three together, and more! A new you with better health, a fitter body and a calmer mind. But with a caveat: it did take approximately 365 days for the Earth to orbit the sun and only then did we have this brand-new year! So, if you’re looking for a new version of yourself, give yourself time! Slow down, enjoy the journey. There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing a change you’re working towards.
Yoga & Ayurveda
Yoga, the union of the body, mind and soul has its roots in Ayurveda, a holistic system that encourages you to live in sync and in harmony with the environment around its rhythms. Practicing Ayurveda naturally brings a more centred and sustainable approach; a sustainable routine or change for you as an individual and sustainability as a system for the environment around us. Improving fitness, losing weight and improving diet are goals that are closely linked and intertwined.
Keeping healthy naturally will address each of these issues not just for this year, but from this year on for many years. So here are some bite-sized tips borrowed from the simplicity and science of yesterday to achieve a fitter and healthier you.
Eat to digest:
Rethink your food Food engages the senses, fuels the body and mind and most importantly feeds the 40 trillion bacteria in the gut. The right balance of these bacteria helps in digesting your food. Unless your food is well digested you would see no benefit of the nutrients in it. Undigested food can give rise to toxins that can create all kinds of trouble within the body.
This is also an opportunity to get to know yourself better, notice how foods make you feel or react and stay away from foods that seem too heavy for too long. Three to four hours should be sufficient time to digest a meal.
Here are a few tips to help you digest your meals better:
1. Spice it up: Add a spice to each meal. Spices can help to improve digestion. If you know your dosha, keep a dosha balancing spice mix handy to add to your raw salads or salad dressing.
2. Chew well: The age-old advice of chewing each bite 32 times holds well. Chewing food well makes it more digestible. If a meal tends to be rushed, then keep handy some dried ginger chips with salt to chew on 20 minutes before your meal. This combination facilitates digestion and also works well even after a heavy meal that has you feeling uncomfortable long after it’s over.
3. Lunch like a king: Make lunch the biggest meal of the day. It powers you through the rest of the day and ancient wisdom believes your digestion to be strongest when the sun is still high in the sky. Reduce the size of your dinner while still savouring flavours and enjoying the togetherness of loved ones. This can take some getting used to but will make a big difference, not just if you are trying to lose weight but also helps you sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
4. Be mindful: Lastly, be more mindful while having a meal. Put aside everything else. The mind is a part of your body and involving it as much as your body while eating will make sure you feel more full, more satisfied and therefore happier at the end of each meal.
Movement for the body:
Rethink fitness as one that includes your mind and emotions as much as your body.
Use the powerful combination of the two to keep yourself happy and wanting more. So, if running stresses you out, or if the sight of a gym is the only thing that makes you want to run the other way, maybe those are not realistic options for you.
Knowing your body type/dosha is a good indication of how to avoid pushing yourself in a direction that may not yield the best results or be sustainable. It is easier to find a form of yoga that works for you and even if you are looking to lose weight, yoga in combination with the right diet and routines can be a very powerful tool to reset the body and the mind.
1. Exercise every day: Without compromise. Don’t wait for that next yoga class. Try shorter sessions at home instead, preferably in the mornings at the beginning of your day to stretch, set the tone, cleanse and free the mind as it readies itself for the day to come. A good routine is one where you practice or exercise until you break into mild sweat on the forehead, under he arms, along the spine, or until the first sign of dryness in the mouth. A good asana practice with a five-minute meditation can set you up for the day and keep you feeling energetic and refreshed.
2. Take your practice further: Keep a separate mat for the studio and one for the home if possible. Amongst other benefits, the energies differ. If home is your sanctuary find yourself a mat that is grounding, calming and aligns with that energy and helps you feel more connected in your practice.
3. Align: As you get deeper into your practice and the philosophy of yoga, you will probably start to realise that a yoga practice goes beyond the mat. It is one that acknowledges the connectedness not just within us but also of us with all beings around, one that encourages kindness every day. There is an immense emotional satisfaction when you begin to align everyday lifestyle choices with the philosophy of ahimsa, when you free yourself from toxins and help to re-create a more sustainable living space.
Other bonus suggestions to try for a healthier you this 2022!
- Rethink oral hygiene: Oral hygiene can affect taste and digestion and therefore how much you eat and how you digest.
- Rethink your beauty routines: The skin is the largest organ of your body and what you put on it is as important as what you put into your mouth.
- Slow down: Health is always from the inside out. Look inwards, acknowledge the beauty within and work with it towards a healthier you!
Change takes time. Make new plans this year but be kind to yourself. Show yourself the love you deserve. Keeping good health every day works towards keeping you fitter for longer. One change at a time! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2022!
Priya Raghavan is founder of Earthen Living, which encourages a slower but more meaningful life through products made with natural materials and those that help keep good health every day (earthenliving.uk)