Ayurveda defines health as much more than just the absence of disease. Total health is that blissful state where body, mind, senses, emotions and spirit are all functioning optimally and in perfect coordination with one another--the state where the physiology is in a state of perfect balance. Total health requires work and commitment. Every day you can add to your health and longevity -- the wonderful thing about ayurveda is that it offers so many ways to restore balance on a daily basis.
1. Eat ayurvedic, fresh, organic food.
You become what you eat, says the old saying, which is true on many levels according to ayurveda. When you eat fresh, organic produce you not only consume more vitamins and minerals, but you stay away from most of the fertilizers and pesticides modern agriculture uses. Natural growing methods also preserve the intelligence of fruits and vegetables so they provide more nourishment. Eating fresh, home-cooked meals in a saatvic (harmonious) atmosphere provides more satisfaction to the heart and mind than fast food eaten in the car, or on the run. Consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, light dairy, and nuts for a balanced diet, and use spices to aid digestion. Avoid "lifeless" food such as canned or frozen food and leftovers whenever possible, as well as stimulants, all of which create toxins in the body.
2. Maintain a regular routine. Ayurveda emphasizes working with the cycles of nature rather than against them. Being regular with meals and sleeping stabilizes the physiology and increases natural immunity. Wake up early, before 6 a.m., to start the day fresh and go to bed before 10 p.m. for a more rejuvenating sleep. Exercise each morning, to 50% of your capacity. Be active during the day and take occasional breaks, but relax and unwind in the evening. Practice meditation, or sitting quietly with your breath or prayer for twenty minutes each morning and evening.
3. Mind your behavior. Positive thoughts and actions have a positive influence on our health while negative behavior can be damaging. Ama--toxins in the physiology that are the root cause of disease--can have a basis in negative emotions and behavior as well as in unhealthy foods or eating habits. Focus on positive behaviors such as truthfulness, nonviolence, calmness, sweet speech, cleanliness, charitableness, freedom from anger, control of the senses and respect towards teachers and elders. Ayurveda calls these behavioral rasayanas--principles for mental, emotional and spiritual health.
4. Exercise without strain. Exercise enhances endurance, digestion and immunity, and banishes fatigue. But as with everything, moderation is the key. Avoid using more than 50% of your total capacity and keep in mind your body type and seasonal changes as well. Winter and spring are the best seasons for exercise, take it easy in the summer or do water sports such as swimming. Morning, before 10 a.m., is the ideal ayurvedic time for exercise. Yoga asanas are suitable for everyone because they balance the physiology, tone the muscles and rejuvenate the organs. Walking is also excellent exercise for everyone.
5. Pamper your skin. As the largest organ, and the first level of protection for your body, your skin requires special attention. It absorbs everything you put on it, so it pays to use natural skin care products according to your skin type. The best thing you can do for your skin is a whole-body oil massage in the morning before you shower. The ayurvedic massage not only tones the skin, but improves circulation and helps flush out toxins from the physiology. To prevent the aging effects of the sun on your skin, do not expose your skin to strong sunlight. Favor exposure to the early morning or late evening sun only.
6. Educate your senses. Every sense has a direct connection to the brain and a consequent effect on the whole physiology. Delicious food satisfies the taste, and ayurvedic self-massage enlivens the touch. For the sense of smell, essential oil blends, found at your local health food store, can offer delightful blends of essential oils for every kind of imbalance. Relaxing music also the body and the mind to the cycles of nature through the sense of hearing. Looking at the beauty of nature has a pacifying effect through the sense of sight.
7. Tap the power of herbs. Herbs contain both biological compounds for healing, but also the wisdom of ancient yogic traditions, from an ayurvedic perspective. Wild-crafted plants are rich with intelligence and healing properties. Tumeric, for example, is an exceptional anti-inflammatory. Peppermint is uplifting and refreshing, and lavender is relaxing and calming. The list, however, is endless.
8. Live in a healthy habitat. Our dwellings and the environment can also influence our health. To reduce indoor pollution from paints and glues, use natural materials and make sure your home has adequate ventilation. Indoor plants help bring nature indoors and keep the environment pure. A water feature inside the home can aid tranquility. Vedic “feng shui” or Vastu Shastra, as it is known, can also increase the positive influences on our life by proper orientation of rooms and entrances.
9. Stay in touch with your inner self. Improve your life with the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, which not only relaxes the body and the mind, but releases accumulated stress. Scientific research studies show that meditation and a regular yoga practice also reduces anxiety, reverses aging, and reduces blood pressure. By revitalizing your entire nervous system, you can increase your creativity and efficiency as well. The result will be greater success and satisfaction in all aspects of life.
10. Be open to life. Stay vibrantly young in heart and mind. Be open to what life brings and adapt to its changes. Try something different, learn something new, and let your creativity move you onto uncharted territories. Discover the joys of life and notice its miracles. Being happy is being healthy.
These suggestions were adapted from Maharishi Ayurveda, a leader in ayurvedic healing in the United States, to help you achieve and maintain total wellness. To learn more about specific products, etc. you may go to MAPI.com