Sujal Torgal Patil
As we enter the New Year, many of us are re-evaluating our own personal life choices. To work tirelessly, earn bountifully, eat heartily and enjoy like there is no tomorrow has become the ultimate summarisation of a successful life.
Many of us have even achieved this feat at an enviable age. But in the pursuit of ideal lives we forget about something very important – our body. An age-old proverb says ‘Your body is the sole medium to achieve whatever you desire, so respect it and care enough so that it can enjoy the fruits of your labour’. According to ancient teachings of ayurveda, every aspect of our life contributes to our overall health and wellbeing. In essence, ayurveda considers good health as being in a state of balance. By obtaining this unique state of balance and wellbeing we can resolve nearly all the common New Year’s resolutions.
Let us resolve for a healthy year ahead and let us strive for the same.
*Prioritise good health: Unless we are serious about our own health we will not care about it and therefore fall sick. At the same time, let us strive to be a holistically aware about ourselves and not become health freaks.
Be logical and listen to your body. Setting unrealistic goals like massive weight loss or a sculpted body is not something we should be after, but look out for positively balanced health.
Start with knowing more about your body type, the kind of food that would suit you and what lifestyle you should ideally follow.
Maintain a journal and jot down whatever you feel is important and you will be amazed with the documentation. Details of diet, unusual reactions to certain food products, weight fluctuations, changes in food-sleep-urine-motion patterns, menstrual information, medicinal details, etc, could be recorded. Observe your body and mind everyday and note the changes. This sounds less important but is indeed useful to detect many life threatening diseases beforehand and also helps in placing health first.
Resolve to eat wisely: Let us analyse what we have been eating and why. Think about whether or not it suits us or how to improve eating habits. Some basic rules would be to follow are
To not eat unless hungry and not to suppress hunger, unless advised.
To eat according to one’s appetite and have the largest meal during the peak time of the day.
To eat warm and fresh food with optimum focus and in a calm environment.
To eat local, homemade food and less of dead or processed food. Preferably vegetarian.
Less focus on the calorie content and nutritional chart and more on the energies and synergies of food items on your plate and their effect on your body and mind.
To be wise enough to not fall for commercial gimmicks in the name of health, namely, protein shakes, fortified edibles, etc.
Resolve to sleep better: This year let us learn to sleep early. Early to bed and early to rise isn’t just a proverb, but a key to blissfully healthy lives. Ayurved says one should not stay awake at night and sleep during the day. One should have an early dinner just after sunset followed by relaxation for a couple of hours and head straight to the bed. This routine is completely in sync with the nature as well the body’s circadian cycle.
One must not indulge in provocative food like chocolate, coffee, alcohol, literature or audio-visuals like violent shows before sleeping.
Ayurveda believes in following nature. As the sun sets we should retire which ensures that we wake up at brahma-muhurta the next day. The ideal time to wake up is one and a half hour before sunrise.
The body produces an important hormone just after sunset which puts us to sleep. This hormone is crucial in maintaining the biological sleep cycle and its release is influenced by external light. Melatonin is also said to be a stress buster, an antioxidant and an immune booster. Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland the moment it is dark outside and this signals us to sleep. If you have a busy evening and stay awake in lighted interiors the melatonin secretion is altered. Over a period of time it diminishes and leads to sleep and anxiety disorders. Melatonin is also said to prevent cancer but lower levels of the hormone even increase the risk of cancer.
Resolve to exercise smartly: Physical activity or vyayam is an integral part of the diurnal regimen prescribed by ayurveda. It is important to exercise wisely. Hours at the gym or trotting a few kilometres aimlessly isn’t exercise at all.
Exercise based on your body type.
Exercise in well ventilated, naturally lit, inartificially conditioned environment and ideally in the morning.
Exercise in optimum quantity. One should exercise till one attains the threshold of ‘balaardh’ (bala- ardha) which can be explained as half the strength (bala) of an individual. One should stop exercising when one starts breathing through the mouth or when sweat appears over the forehead, nose, armpits and on the joints. This fact is ignored in today’s work out regimes wherein the focus has been shifted from health and fitness to visual display of physical assets. But the side effects of exercising beyond the threshold are gruesome and include severe weakness, circulatory failures, cardiac weakness, recurrent dyspnoea, fever, respiratory weakness and weakened joints.
One should adopt yog purposefully, not just physically. Try to understand the eight-fold path of yog as it will spiritually elevate your life.
To be continued…
(Writer is CMO at Traya Natural Health Centre and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)