7 Healthy Habits To Help Improve Your Life
One of the factors on how well we age is not determined by our genes but how well we live. Don’t believe this statement? A study published by the British Medical Journal demonstrates that we can reduce the risk of having a stroke by 50% by doing four simple things – being active for 30 minutes/day, eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, and avoiding excess alcohol and cigarettes. Even further, research consistently reveals that keeping unnatural routines can eventually weaken the body’s immune system and general wellbeing. Therefore, one way to promote health is to bring one’s routine into accordance with nature’s rhythm. Nature is characterized by regular cycles and a large part of being healthy is simply learning how to live in accordance to the natural rhythms to life. Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest and comprehensive systems of natural medicine and the core teachings of Ayurveda is centered around creating lifestyle habits for overall good health and wellbeing.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then,
is not an act, but a habit.”
To help bring us in tune with nature, and rather our own intelligence, following a dinacharya [daily routine] is essential for establishing great health and regularizing our own biological clock. A proper morning routine can assist in digestion, absorption and assimilation as well as generating peace, discipline, happiness and longevity. It is important to assess any imbalances and your natural constitution before initiating a daily routine as it should be catered to your current state of health. However, there are some general guidelines that are recommended from an ayurvedic perspective.
Learning To Love My Body – Acceptance & Balance
7 Healthy Habits To Help Improve Your Life
1. Awaken Early
3. Oral Hygiene
4. Oil Massage
7. Wholesome Eating
1. Awaken Early
We are all familiar with the common saying, “early to bed and early to rise”. Interestingly, our circadian rhythm is bioengineered for early rising and sleep gained after sunrise will not be as refreshing as sleep gained before midnight. Whilst this is not an easy task for some, arising early is beneficial in starting the day. The pure and subtle qualities of nature that is present at this time of the day will bring peace and freshness to the mind and senses. Because of this, ‘early to bed and rise’ is one of the central prescriptions for both prevention and management for nearly all conditions. After arising it is beneficial to say a little prayer or mantra before getting out of bed. This is a divine way of starting the day and induce positivity and light into your life.
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The general concept of forming healthy habits is developing a morning routine that involves purification; removing waste products that have accumulated during the previous evening. Elimination is one of the main pillars of health according to Ayurveda. If there is proper daily elimination, good health is simpler to attain. When food is not properly digested toxins can build up, creating sluggish digestion. To ensure that daily elimination is taking place, one must follow a proper diet and lifestyle for their constitution. Keeping hydrated and the use of herbs, such as triphala, can also help with regulation of bowels.
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Drink Warm Water
Although many use caffeine as a morning drink for stimulation, warm water is more preferable at promoting health. Drinking water, especially from a copper cup, can enhance peristalsis and also flushes the kidneys. Caffeine can contribute to adrenal fatigue and constipation and is therefore not recommended as part of a healthy daily routine.
For digestion, assimilation and occasional acidity A real ayurveda classic. Fill the cup with water in the evening, leave it to stand overnight and drink the water the next morning. In ayurveda this water is particularly highly regarded because it is said to have a purifying as well as a balancing influence on Pitta dosha. From a scientific point of view, the water has absorbed pure copper, which in this form is an essential mineral for the body.
3. Oral Hygiene
An important part of a daily health routine is scraping the tongue. Scraping the tongue can aid in digestion, absorption and assimilation as it stimulates the internal organs. It also removes bacteria. There are a variety of tongue scrapers available on the market today – gold, copper and silver ones. However, stainless steel tongue scrapers are generally suitable for all.
Silver Tongue Cleaner
A traditional Sterling Silver Tongue Cleaner will help whisk away bacteria and impurities found on your tongue in the morning. Rinse, and your mouth and tongue will feel fresh and clean.
Likewise, it’s important to brush the teeth using astringent, bitter, and/or pungent flavors which help to effectively clear any accumulated bacteria build up in the oral cavity. After gently scraping the tongue and brushing your teeth, you then want to consider “oil pulling”. There are many health benefits of oil pulling. This is a technique where a tablespoon of oil (usually sesame or coconut) is swished in the mouth for 10-20 minutes. From promoting dental hygiene to detoxifying the body and increasing energy, oil pulling is an ancient yet current health benefit. However if time is a factor, even a few minutes of oil swishing is advantageous. After spitting out the oil be sure to massage the gums and brush thoroughly. In Ayurveda this practice is referred to as ‘Gandusha’.
All-natural ayurvedic formula with neem (azadirachta indica) extract helps cleanse deep toxins from the teeth and mouth. Works effectively to promote tooth and gum health and helps protect against tooth decay.
4. Oil Massage
The skin provides the ability to heal through touch. The healing touch may include various modalities of healing such as massage. Ayurveda describes in great detail the benefits of daily oil massage. Not only is massage comforting to the body but essential for overall health and well-being. A dry stick easily breaks but if you soak the same stick in oil it soon becomes flexible. The same happens to the human body. The influence of vata makes the body dry, brittle, and achy via the aging process. Therefore, daily oil massage helps maintain proper functions of the body and ultimately helps to reduce the effects of aging.
Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil
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Bathing should follow oil massage to remove any excess oil left on the skin. Bathing is not only cleansing and refreshing, but also an activity that improves mental clarity and revitalizes the body. Using natural and chemical free soaps are recommended. During the summer months it is advisable to shower with cooler water than the winter months. This helps the body to keep in tune with nature and the surrounding environment.
Ayurvedic Herbal Soaps
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By routine practice of meditation, the very physiology of every cell is filled with life-giving energy “prana” resulting in joy, peace, and enthusiasm. Meditation provides both physical and mental benefits. For example, it’s been demonstrated that meditation helps to reduce blood pressure, improve the immune system, reduce anxiety, increase energy, and improve the overall sense of wellbeing.
The science of Ayurveda speaks of vata as being the basis of all movement of the body and mind. When vata is in excess [within the mind] it can result in anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia and many other forms of difficulty handling stress. With nearly eighty percent of all diseases in the west being attributed to stress, it is no wonder why Shirodhara has been considered one of the most popular Ayurvedic treatments of modern day.
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Stress Free Mind
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“Without proper diet, medicine is of no use.
With proper diet, medicine is of no need.”
– Ancient Ayurvedic proverb
7. Wholesome Eating
According to Ayurveda, food is considered medicine and digestion is the cornerstone of health. Ayurveda states “the distinction between health and disease arises as the result of the difference between wholesome and unwholesome diet.” Similarly, Hippocrates [the father of modern medicine] has said, “leave your drugs in the pot at the pharmacy if you can’t cure your patient with food.”
“Let food be thy medicine
and medicine thy food.”
We have all heard the saying, “you are what you eat”. Though true, it would be more accurate to say, “you are what you eat, digest, absorb, and assimilate”. With that in mind, let us now introduce the most fundamental principle according to the science of Ayurveda. This principle is “Agni” – The Digestive Fire. In Ayurveda, this digestive fire illustrates the body’s ability to digest food; almost equivalent to digestive enzymes. In fact, when managing most health concerns, correcting digestion is often the very first line of management. Digestion is said to be the work of the fire element in the body and it is this fire element which produces the glow of good health and vitality.
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Supports improved digestion and balanced appetite; helps with gas, bloating, and discomfort.
Balances and nurtures healthy liver function; aids digestion, assimilation; promotes good appetite.
Nose Drops (Nasya)
Administering ghee or oils in the nasal passages can help with lubrication, cleansing and enhancing mental clarity and improving vision. Making sure that one is lying down with their nostrils parallel to the ceiling, add 3-5 nasal drops into each nostril and sniff deeply but gently. It is advisable to lie for a few minutes to allow the nasal drops to nourish prana. There are a variety of nasal drops recommended, such as brahmi ghee, calamus oil (medicated, not the essential oil) and regular ghee or sesame oil. It is important to note that nasya should not be done an hour before or after showering, or after exercising. It is also recommended to do nasya on an empty stomach. The health benefits of nasya are extensive.
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Nourishing The Brain
The human brain contains about 100 billion cells which continuously require oxygen. Because of this oxygen demand, the brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage; i.e. free radicals. Antioxidants are therefore crucial for longevity and continued effective functioning of the brain.
Herbs – Enhancing The Mind
Ayurveda talks highly about a special class of herbs called “Medhya” herbs. Ultimately, by providing nourishment to the brain, these herbs are especially useful for balancing the mind, reducing stress, and helps to enhance learning.
Promotes natural intelligence; rejuvenates mental processes; supports attention span and concentration; promotes positive emotions and self-confidence.
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Supports mental functioning as one ages; removes toxins that impede learning, memory, and recall; promotes the development of consciousness.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.