By Life Positive
A comprehensive collection of daily habits you can cultivate for optimum health
“May I have breath in my nostrils, voice in my mouth, sight in my eyes, hearing in my ears, hair that has not turned grey, teeth that are not discolored, and much strength in my arms. May all my limbs remain unimpaired and my soul unconquered.”
- The Rig Veda
How do you master perfect health? How can you radiate joy, vitality, energy, dynamism, and inner power? How can you freewheel from the hold of enervation, aches, pains, tiredness and disease? The most potent answer lies in your daily habits. Perfect health is a manifestation of a healthy lifestyle. It is an accretion of the small little things that you have picked up along the way. Healthy physical, mental and spiritual activities are the key to staying healthy, happy and well.
These routines or habits are almost unending, but the more you do, the better the chances of staying healthy. So here is our guide to all the things you can do to keep yourself right on top of your health.
• The period between 3.30 am to 5.30 am is known as Brahma muhurta. The legend goes that the gods distribute prana during this period. Fascinatingly enough, studies seem to endorse this because they prove that the earth sets up extremely low frequency (ELF) waves in the atmosphere shortly before sunrise, of the same frequency (10 Hz) of the brain in the meditation state. So wake up early and claim your share.
• Thank the Almighty for the great gift of a new day and commit yourself to using every moment effectively.
• Give your body a good work-out by rotating whatever part of the body you can, three times, both clockwise and anti-clockwise. This includes the eyes, ears (use your hands to pull the lobe clockwise and anti-clockwise), jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrist, pelvis, thighs, knees and ankles.
• Open your eyes and look at your hands. Intend that whatever you do with your hands today should bring you closer to the God within. Surrender all activities to the Almighty.
• Find out which nostril you are breathing from. At any given time, only one nostril operates. Kiss the corresponding hand. With the same hand, touch or rub face, neck, chest, thighs and feet. Then, while stepping out of bed, the foot that corresponds to the operating nostril should be placed onto the ground first. This will help ensure that all your energies are unified and flowing in the same direction.
• Before placing foot on the floor, touch Mother Earth with your hands first and thank her for her great bounty and generosity and apologies for walking on her, or emptying your waste upon her.
• As soon as possible, empty your colon and bladder. If you wait until later in the morning or during the day, you are slowly poisoning yourself and creating an opportunity for chronic conditions to arise.
• Rinse your eyes with cold water to protect from hyperactive pitta and kapha. Wash with rose water and triphala to purify the sight.
• Wash your ears and apply a tiny amount of sesame or almond oil in them to purify your hearing.
• Gargle with warm water or herbal tea or a quarter cup of sesame oil to purify your voice and strengthen your teeth.
• The traditional dinacharya (ayurvedic daily routine) also recommends that you inhale the smoke of medicinal herbs every morning to purify the mind, head, face, neck and lungs.
• Use sweet toothpaste for vata, a bitter toothpaste for pitta and a tangy toothpaste for kapha.
• Use a tongue-cleaner to clean the surface of the tongue for an extra-fresh feeling.
• Do jal neti every day. Jal neti is a procedure wherein you inhale warm salted water through one nostril and release it through the other. Learn only under a qualified yoga teacher. There are also neti pots available in the market.
• Have a glass of lukewarm water mixed with half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey. Or a glass of freshly squeezed juice of any seasonally available fruit.
• Massage your body to soothe the diminished vata bio-energy, reduce body fat and to remove deep-seated deposits and dead skin. Vata people should use sesame oil, pitta people coconut oil and kapha people a little baby powder.
• Have the occasional oil bath. From the astrological point of view, Tuesdays and Fridays are best for women, Wednesdays and Saturdays for men. Oil rejuvenates the skin and tissues, calms nerves, protects the eyes and ears, strengthens bones and has a positive influence on the psyche.
• After the bath, put on fresh clean clothes and jeweler made from precious stones to provide protection from illness and negative influences. Use perfume of a natural scent.
• Cut fingernails and toenails every fifth day.
• Practice mudras. These simple movements of the hand can help you stay fit. Vayu mudra: Highly recommended. Bend the index finger to touch the root of the thumb, on the mount of Venus. Apply light pressure over it with the thumb. The other three fingers can be straightened. This mudra helps relieve vayu or wind in the body. It is beneficial for chronic gastric problems and should be done every day for 15 to 45 minutes. Surya mudra is `excellent for cough and pollution-related problems. Bend the ring finger and lightly press the tip of the base of the thumb with the thumb gently pressing it, while keeping the other fingers straightened out. This mudra, if practiced every day for about 15 minutes, both morning and evening, helps in reducing fat and alleviates mental tension.
• During the month of August, vata should be calmed by means of enemas; during November, pitta should be calmed with the help of laxatives; and kapha should be calmed in the spring by therapeutic vomiting
• Exercise your body. Long fast walks on flat ground, swimming and yoga are ideal. Early morning exercise removes stagnation in the body and mind, strengthens the digestive fire, reduces fat and gives you an overall feeling of lightness and joy as it fills your body with good prana. It is not to be strenuous, but more meditative and easy. In fact, exercising at one-fourth to one-half of your capacity is recommended. You want long deep breaths to absorb the prana, not short quick shallow breaths. Too much exercise will aggravate vata and the blood and imbalances will follow.
• Some form of pranayama is absolutely recommended. Yoga teaches a variety of these.
• Meditate: For a few minutes to an hour, sit down and see who you really are. This is the most important aspect of getting ready for the day.
• Software professionals/people who use computers excessively must exercise their cervical region and spine, coupled with some shoulder movements and five minutes of trataka.
• Housewives/female teachers must do some lateral bending postures coupled with rigrous breathing exercises like bhastrika or kapalabhati followed by shavasana.
• Marketing/sales/advt/retailers must practice at least 10 mins of soham meditation plus some basic standing asanas followed by five minutes of shavasana.
• All women must do lateral bending postures everyday to keep their reproductive organs healthy and to avoid deposition of fat around the lower abdomen, hips and thighs.
• Lauki juice in the morning is a good anti-oxidant. If you happen to be a kapha type, mix tulsi leaves in it.
• Breakfast: Naturopathy prescribes fresh fruits such as apple, banana, grapes, orange, or any available seasonal fruit, with a cup of buttermilk or unpasteurized milk and a handful of raw nuts or a couple of tablespoons of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
• Other options could include toasted wheat bread with omelettes or honey. Sprouts are a great addition to one’s breakfast. These are full of proteins, and can be made tastier, by stuffing into a parantha.
• Till 11.30 am at least, only have fruits.
• Have a salad before a cooked meal.
• Have two lemons with every cooked meal.
• Include more vegetables than grains. When eating non-veg food, avoid grains.
• Lunch (10:30 am -12:30 pm). This is the main meal of the day, so eat a healthy nutritious meal that has moderate calories. Try a bowl of freshly prepared steamed vegetables using salt, vegetable oil or butter for seasoning, one or two slices of whole grain bread or chappati with a glass of buttermilk, and a bowl of lightly cooked dal, preferably of whole or split mung.
• Take a short walk, a couple hundred steps only, to help the food digest.
• After three hours of lunch, have some fruits. They are energizing and cleansing.
• Resist heavy food post-lunch. Your digestive fires are at an ebb and you should eat extremely light. Avoid the tasty pakoras and other stuff we feel so tempted to indulge in at teatime, because they cause acidity, indigestion and constipation.
• Have a light dinner by 6.30 to 7 pm. A large bowl of fresh salad made of green vegetables, tomatoes, carrots,cabbage, red beet, cucumbers and onions with lemon juice dressing. Any available sprouts such as alfalfa seeds and mung beans. A warm vegetable course. If desired, add one tablespoon of fresh butter, cottage cheese or a glass of buttermilk.
• Avoid curd in the night (it increases kapha, which is already high during nights).
• Avoid rice at nights or have rice whose starch is drained while cooking. Avoid buttermilk as well.
• Have hot food. Always use hing in the food at night to kill the gas that the food might cause.
• Once a week have a raw food day.
• Never eat when angry, depressed, bored or upset.
• Preferably, eat fresh, local, seasonal and home-made food.
• Chew well. The more you chew, the greater the saliva inflow and the better the chance of digesting the food.
• Do not overeat (fill only half of the stomach with food, quarter with water and leave a quarter empty for easy digestion).
• Facing east when eating maximizes digestion.
• Give thanks for what you are about to eat.
• Eat only as much as would fit into your hands cupped together.
• Join the middle finger and thumb of each hand and sit cross-legged with your hand resting on your knees. Breathe calmly. This mudra improves digestion.
• Sit in vajrasana immediately after eating to ensure good digestion.
• Eat every four hours, but eat only enough to ensure that you will be hungry after four hours.
• Do not drink liquids with meals. Take them half-an-hour before meals or an hour after.
• Do not eat too many varieties of foods at a time.
• Sit in a proper posture while eating. It would help to keep the spine straight.
• Avoid eating between two meals. (In some disease conditions, you may have to eat small little meals.)
• Do not eat too late at night. Dinner should be at least two hours before sleep.
• Drink plenty of water, especially during summer.
• Do not eat very hot or very cold foods and do not eat either too slow or too fast.
• Do not concentrate on other things while eating.
• During winter, the diet should consist primarily of food that is sweet, sour and highly seasoned. In early summer, prefer sweet foods.
• Learn to manage your emotions. Remember that fear and anxiety hurt you.
• Remember that no matter what the situation, it is your reaction to it that is the key. You can choose to create anxiety or you can respond with the faith that no matter what is happening, it is for the best.
• The nine commandments given by the ayurvedic sage, Acharya Vagbhata, for good health: “Nityam hitaharaviharasevee sameekshyakaree vishayeshvasakta, daata, samah, satyapara kshamavan aptopasevi ca bhavatyarogah”.
° Eat wholesome food moderately and to your satisfaction.
° Engage in enjoyment in moderation.
° Act circumspectly.
° Be non-indulgent to sensual pleasures.
° Be generous in giving.
° Consider everybody your equal.
° Be truthful (honest).
° Be patient.
° Be of service to trustworthy people.
• Savour all the wonderful experiences, textures, sights, and sounds that engage your senses on a daily basis.
• Be alert to any internal negative dialogue that influences your life.
• Allowing the dreamer to take centre stage benefits life tremendously.
• Stop projecting your past experiences on the present ones.
Approach Situations Afresh
• Nurture relationship that you care about; never take them for granted.
• Don’t let your stress pile on. It might reach a volcanic proportion and you might not be able to deal with it.
• Try to learn something new and interesting, periodically, like a new sport, or a new dance.
• Self-introspection is very important, if not daily, then on a weekly basis; it keeps you in touch with yourself.
• Enjoy a daily dose of laughter. Laughing with family or friends is best, but otherwise, watch a funny TV serial or movie.
• Love your faults and be gentle on yourself. Harsh self-criticism is counter-productive. Be your best friend.
• Don’t label yourself. Life is much larger than the combination of several critical incidents. It takes a long time to understand and unravel oneself.
• Go the extra mile to be good to your friends. Sometimes in our busy schedule we lose touch with these important people.
• Boredom and emptiness is a malady of our times and often leads to poor emotional health. Therefore, have a structured life. One should look forward to the next day.
• Meditate periodically during the day for at least two to five minutes to quieten the mind.
• Learn the art of enjoyment. Cultivate laughter, and the practice of music and art. Sing in the bath, when cooking, or while doing anything mechanical.
• Learning how to manage time is of crucial importance to your health. Feeling pressured by time raises your uric acid level and cholesterol. Use your intelligence to manage your time. If you need to go to work at 9 am, wake up early enough to allow you to complete your morning routines without haste.
• Create the time to go for walks. Walking is essential to life. The human body is structured to walk.
• Be aware of the harmony within you. All our organs, every cell, co-operates with every other cell. Generate that same harmony outside you.
• Be aware that you are always safe, because you are part of the universe. Surrender to life. Feeling energy and experiencing the flow of energy is health.
• Include nature completely into your every thought, word and deed.
• Get to bed by 9.30 to 10 p.m, to prevent accumulation of gas.
• Ensure good sleep by cultivating healthy habits such as washing your feet before bed, and tranquillizing your mind by watching your breath and meditating. With the subconscious quietened, there will be no bad dreams.
• Sleeping with the windows closed is unhealthy.
• During the cold and dry season, intercourse is not restricted. During the monsoons, restrict to three times a week. In summer, reduce to three times a month.
• Because of the earth’s magnetic field, the head should point either to the east or to the west.
• Sleeping on the right side of the body supports digestion.
• Do this creative visualization exercise every night before going to sleep: Close your eyes; breathe deeply and slowly until you feel relaxed. Visualize your body from head to toe and repeat the following affirmation: “Each and every part and organ of my body functions at its peak efficiency. I enjoy excellent health.”
• Massage the soles of your feet with a calming oil before going to bed. This will calm your system and promote well being.
• And remember to take your triphala before sleep.
Compiled with the help of Mallika Bhanot, naturopath, Ramesh P.R., Arya Vaidya Sala, Delhi, Sri Vidya, counselling psychiatrist, Vijaya Venkat, Hansaben Yogendra of the Yoga Institute, Santa Cruz, Dr. H.K. Bhakru, Hans H. Rhyner, author of Ayurveda,The Gentle Health System.
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