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Ayurveda , Back to Basics

Taking control of your own well-being can be daunting at first. It takes time, commitment and energy to stay well, especially when the definition of ‘well’ is not just ‘the state of being disease-free’ but ‘the state of being totally healthy in mind and body.’ Too often, we reserve the bulk of our time, commitment and energy for making money, or having fun, or even just surviving, and the result is that well-being is relegated to going for the annual physical or popping a daily multivitamin. Ayurveda, the ancient healing tradition from India, encourages you to make time everyday for your well-being, and reap the rewards of total health for life. Many ayurvedic recommendations appear basic, simple, just ‘common sense,’ but after reading this article, sit back and analyze how frequently these basic wellness needs are bypassed on a daily basis in the crush of day-to-day living, and you’ll realize that it’s truly time to go back to the basics to stay well.

Eat fresh whole foods, and cook your own meals
 Ayurvedic healers down the centuries would have nodded in approval if they had heard Hippocrates’ advice to “let food be thy medicine.” According to the ayurvedic texts, if your diet and eating habits are unwholesome, all the medicines in the world won’t be able to keep you well; and if your diet and eating habits are wholesome, it’s quite likely you’ll never need any medicine to keep you well. These texts were written in another age, but there are choices that we can make even in today’s fast-paced world to eat well. Choosing fresh over canned, whole over processed or refined, and organic or natural over foods containing additives or chemical preservatives whenever you can are good ways to get back to the basics of eating well.

Here are some suggestions to make it easier to eat well:
Time-saving kitchenware such as a pressure cooker to cook lentils or a slow-cooker to cook wholesome one-dish meals from scratch can make the process of cooking your own meals easier.

Involve the whole family in the task of preparing fresh meals: when everyone contributes to the meal, your time and effort are reduced, and mealtimes become the more companionable because of the joint effort.

Browse magazines for healthy recipes utilizing fresh whole ingredients that can be made in 30 minutes or less.

Keep a diary of the number of times you routinely eat out or eat bought meals, and then slowly start whittling down that number until you’re mainly eating meals you’ve made with fresh ingredients that are best for you.

Practice mindful eating:
 Your digestive system converts the food you eat into the nutritive essence your body uses to build healthy blood, cells and tissues. A wholesome, balanced diet suited to your unique nutritional needs is the first step towards good health. But equally important is a digestive system that works smoothly and efficiently. Only when the nutrients you feed your physiology are fully digested, absorbed and utilized is the process of nutrition complete.

Here are some ayurvedic tips to help your digestive system turn in a stellar performance after every meal:

Eat your most substantial meal around mid-day. That’s when your digestive ‘fire’ peaks. Eat smaller meals at breakfast and dinner.

Sit down to eat every meal, and try to maintain your attention on your food while you eat.

Do not eat when you are angry, stressed or upset.

Offer thanks before you begin a meal.

Do not drink too much water with a meal, and avoid iced beverages because they douse the digestive fire. Do not combine milk with salty or sour tastes.

Add digestion-enhancing herbs and spices to dishes.

Try not to work or watch TV while you eat.

Exercise in moderation every morning.

Drink lots of water through the day.

Ayurvedic digestion toners such as Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry) and Triphala can help kick-start a sluggish or irregular digestive system.

Get enough quality sleep
Sleep is when your physiology recharges for the next day. Both quantity and quality of sleep are important. Rather than go by a one-size-fits-all ‘eight hours a night’ rule, tune in to your physiology for a few days to figure out what you, as a unique individual, need to wake up rested, refreshed and ready to dive into what the new day offers. Ayurvedic healers recommend retiring early and rising early to stay in tune with what Nature intended for human beings as activity and rest times—sleep obtained in the later part of the night or during the day is often less productive in terms of replenishing the mind and body.

Woo restful sleep with these tips:

Banish the TV, the computer and work-related material from the bedroom. When you enter your bedroom, your mind should be getting ready to wind down, not get stimulated.

An hour before you go to bed, diffuse a soothing aroma in your bedroom. Lavender has been shown to be helpful in lulling the mind and body into sleep.

Make sure your bedroom is neither too warm nor too cool.

Keep your bedroom quiet and dark. Choose cool soothing colors for bedroom décor.

Wear loose comfortable clothing.

Stay active during the day and avoid daytime naps.

Eat light at night, and make sure you’re done with your last meal of the day at least two hours before you retire. Warm milk makes a soothing bedtime beverage.

When you get into bed, lie on your back with your legs stretched out and your arms straight and loose, and practice deep breathing for a few minutes.

Jatamansi and poppy seeds are traditional ayurvedic sleep aids that are gentle and non-habit-forming.

Manage stress:
Stress cannot be banished from our lives completely, and some stress is actually good for us. But too much stress, or stress that stays around for extended periods of time, eventually depletes the physiology. Stress in excess creates free radicals in the body, and leads to disease as well as early aging. And it’s not just the big traumas that create harmful levels of stress in the physiology, little things that happen everyday, like that spat with a co-worker, worrying about your credit card bill or piled-up chores that make you feel overloaded, can create chronic stress. Managing stress is, therefore, crucial to stay well.

Try these ayurvedic suggestions for managing stress:
A daily self-massage is replenishing and relaxing. Choose a massage oil that is suited to your constitution. Although sesame oil is the traditional recommendation, almond, coconut, olive or jojoba are alternatives to consider. For best results, perform the massage in the morning, before your shower or bath.

Meditate for about thirty minutes everyday. The ayurvedic herb Brahmi helps enhance the results from meditation by supporting mind-body-spirit coordination.

Set some time aside in each day for a relaxing activity, whether it’s listening to uplifting music or taking a stroll along the seashore. Even fifteen minutes can help recharge a tired mind and body.

Cultivate the pleasant company of nurturing people to recharge your mind and emotions.

Diffuse relaxing aromas in your work area or home—rose, jasmine, lavender, sweet orange or ylang ylang balance the mind, senses and emotions.

Exercise everyday, in moderation. The best time to exercise according to ayurveda is in the early morning.

Note: This material is educational, and is not intended to diagnose,treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical concern, please consult your physician.

Copyright AyurBalance, Inc. 2003

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][author] [author_info]Shreelata Suresh is a yoga instructor and writer from the Bay Area of the USA. She writes for various publications on yoga and ayurveda. For more articles on ayurveda, to buy premier ayurvedic products or to subscribe to free e-newsletters, please visit[/author_info] [/author][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]