Self-Care Guide: Rejuvenation
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Life Extension: Evergreen Secrets from Ayurveda
Elders in India traditionally bless the young with the words "Shataayu Bhavah!" which means "May you live a hundred years!" The blessing is not too removed from the literal. According to ayurveda, the human body is indeed engineered for a full five score years and more. The three pillars of life — diet, sleep and self-mastery — form the foundation on which ayurveda says you can build good health and longevity.
Here are some tips from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians to help you chart your course to a long, happy life.
EAT TO LIVE ... LONG!
"Aaharah Praanah," says ayurveda, which means "food is a synonym for life." Food nourishes more than the body. It determines the quality of your very consciousness. What you eat, how you cook, when and in what company you eat... these seemingly small details have a big impact on your overall health and, ultimately, your life span.
Use plenty of spices and herbs in cooking. Spices are not only taste-enhancers, but also great healers. Sprinkle some freshly-cracked black pepper on your sandwich, and it helps you absorb the nutrients readily. A pinch of turmeric in your soup not only adds color but also works as an excellent antioxidant. Combined in the right proportions, spices lend their synergy to everyday soups and curries. If you are not sure how to blend them, try Maharishi Ayurveda's gourmet Spice Mixtures, which will spice up your food with no fuss and lots of flavor.
To derive maximum benefit from your spices, sauté them in clarified butter or ghee before adding them to prepared foods. Ghee helps the body absorb the lipid-soluble part of spices with ease. It's highly aromatic and delicious, too.
SLEEP YOUR WAY TO A LONGER LIFE!
Ayurveda believes that disease and disorders develop as the result of accumulated ama, or toxins in the body. While physical ama leads to disturbed digestion and forms the breeding ground for disease, mental ama can impact resistance to day-to-day stress. Lack of good-quality sleep is a major factor in generating high levels of mental ama. Nature intended sleep as a nightly ritual of rest and rejuvenation. When sleep does not come easy or is disturbed, the day's piled-up stresses, or ama, fail to be cleansed. A good night's sleep, on the other hand, increases ojas, or vital life force.
Ayurveda has several remedies for disturbed sleep. Drink a glass of warm milk with a little honey just before you sleep. This has a settling influence on the mind and body. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor of serotonin, a brain chemical that facilitates sleep. Use honey that has not been heat-treated, and be sure not to heat it above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, as this eliminates its beneficial qualities.
Transcendental Meditation® helps combat the daily build-up of stress, making it easier for the mind to shut off for the night.
The herbal formulations in Maharishi Ayurveda's Blissful Sleep System can help correct specific sleep imbalances naturally and gently.
Ayurvedic healers have always emphasized the value of regularity in everything, be it rest, play or work. They observed it in the daily and seasonal rhythms of life itself, and adapted it to their own lifestyles. Most of it is practical advice: go with the flow of nature as often as you can. Go to bed on time — never after 10:00 p.m., if possible. Wake up early. Spend time and attention on your morning ablutions, including the daily self-massage (abhyanga). Eat a good, fibrous breakfast, and have lunch at noon, when the body's agni, or digestive fires, are at their peak. Meditate twice a day — Transcendental Meditation is a proven stress-reduction technique. Spend time with your family.
One of the key elements of regular routine is good elimination. Although getting more fiber in your diet can help, Maharishi Ayurveda's Detoxification System is a highly effective support system for good digestive health. It helps purify the liver, supports balanced fat metabolism, reduces digestive impurities, curbs the buildup of impurities in fat and muscle tissue, strengthens the entire urinary tract and aids liver function for pure blood and better absorption of nutrients.
KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SEASONS
Though you can choose any time of the year to cleanse your body, ayurveda believes that spring is king. It is, after all, Nature's own chosen time to regenerate, renew and cleanse the environment of winter's accumulated rough, dry and cold qualities.
Panchakarma, done at this time, is a wonderful way to cleanse and detoxify the body through healing massages and baths. Research on panchakarma indicates that it is a very powerful way to increase biological youthfulness and improve overall well-being.
If you meet the demands of the seasons year-round, you can maintain both body and mind in peak health. In summer, stay cool with healthy shakes and sherbets — cool, not ice-cold. Eat lots of sweet juicy fruits. In the fall, fill up on figs, prunes and raisins to fortify the body and improve elimination. Let the winter months be as nourishing as you can make them, for both body and soul.
HERBS TO HELP YOU ALONG
While your own efforts will take you a long way in your journey towards a long, healthy life, a little help from Mother Nature will make matters much easier. Nature has an astounding pharmacy, and each herb it creates has its own concentrated synergy and intelligence. Researchers at Maharishi Ayurveda pick the best and the ripest of herbs, fruits and spices, then combine and process them to ensure maximum benefit.
The most respected of MAPI rasayanas (elixirs) is Amrit, which strengthens the immune system and refines the functioning of the physiology. Amrit promotes bala, or vital energy. Scientific studies have now established that Amrit fights free radical damage 1,000 times more effectively than any other antioxidant. While Amrit is excellent for overall mind/body health, targeted herbal formulations can help you address any specific imbalances you encounter during the day to help balance the mind and emotions.
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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.