Ten Ayurvedic Ways to Start Your New Year Right
Diet and Exercise Tips
New Year's Resolutions are best known for the speed with which they are forgotten. Yet, total health is a lifelong journey — you need to work on your health every day. Here are ten tips from our ayurvedic expert, Director of Research and Product Development at Maharishi Ayurveda, on enriching 2003 with ayurvedic wisdom — simple things you can do every day to stay healthy and happy.
1. Start your day with a stewed apple
Start the day with a stewed apple — it will boost your health in a number of ways. First of all, it's an ideal ayurvedic breakfast because it is light, warm and nourishing. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, it's better to start your day with a light meal. Even in English the meaning of "breakfast" is to "break a fast." It's better to break the fast of the night slowly. Your digestive system needs warm, nourishing foods in the morning to stimulate it, but not too much. The digestive fire is just waking up, and will be at full capacity when the sun is high in the sky, at noon. That's when to eat heavier proteins and larger amounts of food.
A stewed apple also helps your elimination system, because it is easy to digest and contains lots of fiber. It also contains vitamins, trace minerals, and antioxidant flavonoids. All of this is good for weight loss, actually, because anything that is light on your digestion and adds nutrients rather than empty calories helps the body burn fat.
2. Cook your foods right
The purpose of ayurvedic cooking is to combine the intelligence of the spices, the intelligence of vegetables and the intelligence of the fat — all the different enzymes and energetics — in a way that is not confusing for your body's intelligence to break down and incorporate. Ayurvedic cooking methods are easy on the digestive system.
You can prepare ayurvedic vegetables in two ways. One way is to steam the vegetables first using water, and then add spices sautéed in ghee or olive oil. A second way is to sauté the spices in ghee or olive oil, and then add the vegetables, diced small, and sauté for a few minutes. Cover and cook at low temperature. If you are making a curry (vegetables with sauce), add a small amount of water to finish cooking the vegetables.
Your body craves routine. If you exercise at the same time every day, eat at the same time and sleep at the same time, your body will respond with better digestion, better sleep and overall better immunity.
Also, the ayurvedic concept is that you shouldn't need to rest a day after exercise. The idea is to follow the principle of balaardh, to maintain balanced energy and stamina at all times. Bala means "energy" and ardh means "half" — the ayurvedic recommendation is to never exert more than 50% of your capacity. This amount will differ from person to person, depending on your body type, your age and your overall health.
The way to tell if you are starting to exceed your capacity is if sweat starts to form on your nose, forehead or under the arms. Another sign is if you can no longer breathe through the nose. Breathing through the nose is recommended for ayurvedic exercise. If you start to need to gulp air through the mouth, it's time to slow down or stop.
If you follow this one guideline, you will always feel energized by exercise instead of exhausted. And each day, you will find that your capacity increases to exercise more intensely or for a longer duration. Very naturally you will be able to handle more exercise without ever straining.
4. Sleep Deeper
Following an ayurvedic routine and eating the suitable foods for your body type are the most important things you can do to improve your quality of sleep. The ayurvedic routine includes going to bed by 10:00 p.m., during the Kapha time of night, so your sleep takes on that deeply restful quality.
Additional things you can do are a partial abhyanga before going to bed, on your lower limbs, hands and feet, using the non-staining Youthful Skin Massage Oil. Pay particular attention to nail-beds. A warm bath also relaxes the body and helps calm Vata dosha. Aggravated Vata (characterized by whirling thoughts) is usually the cause of not being able to fall asleep easily.
Avoid TV or working on the computer at night, as these make it difficult to fall asleep. Exercising during the Kapha time of the morning and doing your yoga asanas and Salutes to the Sun also help balance the mind and body so sleep comes naturally in the evening.
It also helps to surrender your body to the bed. Don't fight the bed. Lie down easily, lightly, in the rest pose. This means on your back, with your hands easily at your side, palms to the ceiling.
You may be plagued by worries when you lie down to sleep; by the things that are beyond your emotional, physical or financial capability to solve, which tend to bother you before bed. In this case it helps to make a separate mental file of each problem, and then hand the problems over to Nature to take care of while you rest. By handing over the things that are beyond your capability to handle, you give your mind and body a sense of ease, a different kind of relaxation.
5. Let go of stress
The most effective way to eliminate stress is to practice the Transcendental Meditation® program. Research shows that it is the most effective stress-reduction technique available.
Worry Free tablets and Worry Free Tea are especially helpful in balancing Prana Vata, the subdosha of Vata that is implicated in mental stress. This is especially effective for people who are prone to anxiety, an overactive mind, and other forms of mental stress.
Eating more walnuts, fresh coconut, milk and fresh milk products such as panir and lassi also helps reduce stress. In general, eating a balanced ayurvedic diet and following the ayurvedic routine is a formidable weapon against stress. The breathing exercise pranayama, practiced before Transcendental Meditation, can help calm the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for the "fight or flight" response to stress.
6. Flush out toxins
The most important thing to do is to prevent toxins from forming. Eating an ayurvedic diet suitable for your body type and following the ayurvedic daily and seasonal routine is the best way to prevent toxins from forming in the digestive tract and at the cellular level. You can also improve your elimination system (which carries toxins from the digestive tract out of the body through the bowel and urine) by eating prunes and figs in the morning with your stewed apple. Adding more vegetables that have been cooked in detoxifying spices to your diet also helps the body eliminate toxins.
Make sure that your bowel movements are regular (at least once a day in the morning). If your body is balanced from following the ayurvedic recommendations, it will be able to cleanse itself of most toxins using its own detoxification systems (such as through the sweat, urine and feces).
Spring is the time of year that your body is naturally detoxifying, so it's ideal to support it by doing a spring detox program. For two months, take Elim-Tox (or if you are more Pitta-based, use Elim-Tox-O) to cleanse the liver (and, indeed, the whole body), flushing out toxins that may have accumulated there.
And because the toxins are carried from the body through the elimination system, it is absolutely essential to support the elimination system as well. For this we have included eliminative herbs in Elim-Tox and Elim-Tox-O, and we also recommend combining either of these with Herbal Cleanse or Organic Digest Tone. You can use whichever product works best for you.
7. Power up your immunity
The goal of Maharishi Ayurveda is to create balance and immunity with every recommendation. That's why all of our herbal products help improve immunity as well as target specific concerns.
The herbs in Bio-Immune from Maharishi Ayurveda are especially formulated to strengthen the neuro-immune response, purify the liver and blood, and dissolve ama (toxins) and amavisha (a more reactive form of ama). You can take it throughout the winter, or any time you feel vulnerable to cold and flu bugs.
Many people find that by taking Maharishi Amrit Kalash on a year-round basis, they don't fall prey to colds and flu any more. The formula is the cream of ayurvedic rasayanas, the special elixirs for health and longevity. It protects the body by strengthening immunity, removing toxins and producing more ojas, the substance in the body associated with immunity and bliss.
8. Beautify your hair and skin
Beauty is based on good health. In Maharishi Ayurveda, beauty has three pillars: inner beauty, outer beauty and lasting, ageless beauty.
At Maharishi Ayurveda we have developed a number of natural skin and hair care products to enhance the beauty of the skin, the face and the hair. But the really beautiful thing about these products is that while improving the outer beauty of the skin and hair, they are also improving the inner and lasting beauty aspects as well.
The Youthful Skin Cream, for instance, penetrates to the seventh layer of the skin to cleanse and nourish that deepest layer, even though it is a cream that is applied from the outside.
While using the hair products and the Youthful Skin Herbal Soap, Oil, and Cream is good, we also recommend taking supplements specifically for the skin and hair. Healthy Hair & Nails, for instance, fortifies and enhances the growth of hair and nails.
Calcium Support is an excellent supplement to improve damaged hair or nails. It enhances your body's ability to assimilate the calcium from foods you eat. Radiant Skin helps flush out toxins that can cause eruptions and irritation, leaving your skin clear and glowing.
9. Drink to your health
Drinking lots of water throughout the day can help detoxify the body and prevent aging and dryness. But you can increase the impact many times by adding a few herbs to your water. The herbal water recipes make a tremendously effective delivery system for the Maharishi Ayurveda products.
While it's best to consult an expert trained in Maharishi Ayurveda for your own personal water recipe designed for your specific imbalances, here are general recommendations for the three body types.
10. BOOST YOUR RELATIONSHIP HEALTH
The beauty of Maharishi Ayurveda is that it takes into account all areas of life. While you may think that your problems with relationships start with the other person, the fact remains that you can change only yourself. Most relationships go wrong when the people involved start blaming each other. If you stop and look within, you will surely find that blame doesn't always lie with the other person.
At the basis of all relationships is the human heart. The heart is the seat of Sadhaka Pitta, the sub-dosha of Pitta concerned with emotions. To use modern terminology, Sadhaka Agni is related to the neurohormones that are located in the brain and all over the body, including the heart. The neurohormones located in the heart send signals to the brain to register depression or happiness, depending on how the individual processes an experience.
The reason this example is important to understand is that everyone needs to respect the special psychoemotional makeup of others. Rather than blame them for reacting differently than we do, it's better to develop understanding and tolerance, based on this knowledge of different mind-body types that Maharishi Ayurveda has given us.
If you are feeling irritated with someone, it's best to look to your own physiology rather than blame him or her. You might eat a juicy pear, for instance, to pacify Sadhaka Pitta, which can cause irritation or frustration if it's out of balance. Taking Organic Rose Petal Spread on a daily basis is a powerful way to pacify Sadhaka Pitta. If you are feeling sad or are facing emotional adversity, Blissful Joy can help smooth out your moods. Blissful Joy is a completely natural yet powerful way to lift your spirits.
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.