4 Simple Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle
So, you've completed your spring detox, bought your gym membership and filled your cupboard with all the necessary supplements and superfoods. Now what..!?
You can invest in as many health trends as you like, but to see true results in your personal wellbeing, it requires some consistency and discipline in your daily routine.
I've seen the most profound shifts in my personal health where I've introduced simple yet effective changes on a regular basis. Part of it is the persistence to keep up with good habits, the other part is believing that these changes will actually work!
Your mindset plays a huge role in it all!! Ayurveda is such a vast science and it can seem intimidating or overwhelming to most beginners. The truth is, Ayurveda is a very simple way of knowing your body and how to keep it in balance. If you are too hot, cool down! If you are tired, take rest! These glimpses of personal awareness and small changes can be easily adapted into every kind of lifestyle. So, I thought this would be the appropriate time to share with you, some of the ‘not-so secret’ secrets that have helped me the most and which you can start adding to your own routine right away. Let’s learn and heal together!
1) Lube Up – I can’t stress the importance of getting healthy oils into your body, topically and internally. It is no secret that with each passing day, our body gets a tiny bit older and Vata dosha (air + space elements) starts to naturally aggravate resulting in dryness, stiff muscles and cracking joints. No matter what age you are or whether you have any aggravations or not, it is extremely beneficial to start a routine of daily oil application right away.
Early morning is best for maximum absorption and in Ayurveda, we use special medicated herbal oils to suit each body type but if these are not available to you, any cooking oil will do such as coconut, sesame or olive. Time to raid your kitchen!
Once you have your oil, find a comfortable spot, spread out an old towel or sheet (spillage is bound to occur) and give yourself about 20 minutes. Start with your head and face, then upper body all the way down to your toes, giving each part ample attention as you move through, providing friction with your hands. Self massage has so many benefits including the improvement of circulation, digestion and sound sleep. Besides that, it’s actually a way to get to know your body and give yourself some love. Of course, if you can also receive oil massage from someone else on a regular basis that's just as helpful! We underestimate the power of human touch, especially the best kind which comes from our own hearts and hands.
2) Fasting – I was brought up in a ‘normal’ household where, like most families, we ate 3 meals per day at set times and if we weren’t hungry my mother would always encourage us to eat anyway, just to fill our bellies. While I am thankful for never being deprived of food, I have come to see that the consistent eating of large meals is not natural for my body type.
I am dominated by Kapha dosha (earth + water elements) and I’ve discovered that I actually thrive and have more energy when I take in less food.
Our digestion is naturally at it's slowest in the morning and evening times, yet, we have such a large cultural importance around eating large meals consistently for breakfast and dinner.
Ayurveda states that we should only be eating when we are really truly hungry which requires us to pay close attention to our own digestive fire, rather than a socially adjusted clock.
Since I've started doing some natural intermittent fasting, my digestion has become lighter, cleaner and faster. I’ve realized that I can skip breakfast, or lunch or dinner comfortably depending on what my stomach is telling me on the day and my body is much happier for it. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a big dinner once in a while when we require it. Remember that everyone is different and some people will absolutely need 3 steady meals where some can get by on just a big lunch. Once again, it’s all about realizing that you are a unique individual with unique requirements and it’s time to start tuning in to what those needs are instead of what we are used to doing out of habit.
3) Meditate More – A lot of people have told me they don’t meditate because they can’t or have simply never tried it. “There is no time” “I can’t sit still” “but it’s soooo boring” … and insert other excuses here. The truth is, that meditation has many forms. You don't necessarily have to sit in lotus position for hours and it certainly doesn’t have to be boring. Before I started my regular practice, I had the same common misconception about what mediation was and thought that maybe it was something I could never understand or accomplish. Meditation is not something to accomplish, it is just allowing yourself to BE. That is it. We forget about the simple act of sitting, not on our phones or in front of the TV but just sitting, the way we are and allowing ourselves a much needed break from the world. We are all so busy and overworked these days to the point where almost every human being is battling some degree of chronic stress or mental illness.
The grand upside however; is that we hold the key to freeing ourselves from all this self inflicted misery. Once I made mediation a priority, it became as normal as brushing my teeth, and I watched as awareness began to flow naturally in my life. Meditation can be anything you want it to be. It can be walking your favourite trail in the park or watching the waves crash on the shore at the beach. It can even be dancing in your living room or doing the dishes. It is any activity where we make ourselves intentionally present with ourselves and our surroundings, allowing total peace to enter our beings. There are three optimal times to meditate in the day; first thing in the morning, in the evening before dinner and at night before sleeping. Choose which one suits your routine best and, with time and practice, it may just become your favourite part of the day!
4) Change Your Mindset – Healing ourselves goes far beyond the physical doing; the taking of medication, the dieting, the exercise. None of these factors, no matter how strict, will have any effect if we don’t have a positive mindset to go with them. Fear of disease inhibits the body from taking in the nutrients it needs. Subconscious self hatred for allowing the body to become weak in the first place, will allow even more disease to accumulate.
If we want to get better in any aspect of our lives, whether we simply want to lose weight or battle a serious disease like cancer, the most important thing we can have with us is our will power. Our will to survive. The desire so strong to live this beautiful life to it’s maximum potential, that no disease could possibly overcome us. That is why you hear ‘miracle’ stories of people getting through the toughest illnesses and coming out on top in full health. No amount of doctors can ever make someone better if the patient themselves does not believe the medicine can work. Ayurveda and many other forms of alternative medicine can show amazing results but only if you let go of any negativity and give your body the support it needs to do it’s job. So drop the skepticism and give yourself some love.
You are as strong as any being and you deserve to be healthy!