What are your first thoughts the moment you hear the word, “Healthy Living”? Does it define the overall wellness of the body and the mind? Then you are on the right track. Living a healthy life does not mean slogging at the gym, restricting your diets, trying hard to control all your cravings, physical and mental. Doing such things will only make your life a burden.
Let me break down healthy living into simple terms. I do not want to delve into science or religion. This is simply my take on healthy living. We think with our minds, and it is our thinking which ultimately manifests in our body as well as around us. I came across this concept of “law of attraction” which explains exactly why things go wrong with us. More about it in another post.
Getting to our body, most of us including me know only to the extent of what we have been taught in our science classes. That basic understanding is more than enough for healthy living. Our body gets its nutrients from the food that we consume. Good food nurtures our body whereas bad food ruins it.
Of course there are lots of factors beyond our control, about which we can do nothing, like genetics, epidemics, pollution etc. But if we consciously do something about the factors that are under our control, definitely we can live a far more better life than we are living presently. This post is in no way a medical councel, rather the purpose of this post is to share the good things that I have come across with regard to health.
I take goodness from wherever or whoever it comes and try to implement that in life. Its my belief that by making a few life style changes we can see positive changes in both mental and physical health. So here we go…
Exercise is some kind of physical activity that improves our overall wellness. In the days of our grandparents there wasn’t any need for exercising as their regular routine involved a lot of physical activity. As a result their generation was more healthier than ours.
But today we have been pampered with a lot of inventions and discoveries which have definitely made our lives easier, but less healthy. So we are faced with the need to compulsorily exercise. Some people are fitness freaks. This post is not for them. This is for people like me, who are a bit lazy to get started and for people who have no time for all this.
Walking is one of the easiest way to lose some calories. Doctors suggest atleast 30 minutes of walk for 5 days in a week, the 1st and the last 5 minutes being for warm up or slow walking and 20 minutes in between for brisk walking. Walking helps in maintaining a healthy weight, strengthens bones and muscles, helps in managing health condition like diabetes, blood pressure etc.More on walking at Mayo Clinic.
There is another type of walking called infinity walking. It was developed in mid 1980’s by a clinical Psychologist Deborah Sunbeck as per Wikipedia, though I came across lots of claims that it was devised by the siddars or saints of the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. As a result there are a lot of Tamil videos on infinity walking.
It involves walking in the shape of 8 from north to South for 15 minutes and then from south to north for 15 minutes. It improves a lot of health conditions like asthma, migraine, joint pains etc. Improves vision and activates the internal organs. You can look up videos on internet as to how to practise this and follow it in your life.
And then there are lots of articles explaining the benefits of walking barefoot on grass or plain earth. This is called earthing or grounding. When we come directly in contact with the earth through our feet, which have a lot of pressure points, the energy from the earth is passed on to us. This process relaxes us. It also improves our eyesight and helps in quickening the healing process of various conditions. There are a lot of videos on this too.
Though there aren’t any authentic reference that I can provide, I feel that these practises, which do not cost us a pie should definitely be tried by all of us whenever possible. I have a small lawn right in front of my house, where I practise brisk walking for 30 minutes, in the shape of 8, barefeet. So its all three, in one effort. Because of the climatic conditions here I haven’t been able to do it consistently. But I can definitely state that I got rid of my heel pain.
Walking after dinner
This question on whether to walk or not after having a meal has always been debatable. But now lots of research reports are coming up favouring the walk after a meal. In fact they suggest brisk walking of 3o minutes after a meal. While this might not be possible for everyone, atleast we can try normal walking for 15 minutes after dinner. I find walking after food bit uncomfortable, compared to walking on an empty stomach.
But this walking after dinner seems to have quite a few health benefits.
- The digestive system will function better, and you can rid yourself of the digestive disorders like flatulence and constipation.
- Webmd suggests that walking after dinner helps in lowering blood sugar and managing type-2 diabetes. But they also warn that for people with heart disease, this may not be a good option.
- Psychology Today even goes to the extent of saying that the simple practise of walking after a meal can help in preventing Alzheimer’s, Heart disease, stroke, Weight gain, various tumors and also improve mood.
So, give it a go. Start today.
People who do not find time for walking, can incorporate walking into their routine as our ancestors did. Here are some simple ways.
- Try to make short distances walking rather than use your vehicle.
- Use the stairs whenever possible.
- For instance, if you have your office/house on the 7th floor, you can use the elevator upto the 5th floor, and then try walking the remaining 2 floors.
- Walk upto the loo on the first floor if you have one, rather than use the one on the ground floor.
- If you are using the public transport, you can get down one stop before yours and walk to your destination.
Long before the 2 wheelers and 4 wheelers became affordable, people used cycle a lot. Cycling was a daily need. Little did they think that they were exercising, but their bodies enjoyed the activity, and gave them back in terms of good health.
Take this example of my dad who though was short and stout, did not have any major health issues as he was cycling up and down to his office, a distance of more than 5 kms, 6 days of the week. But just months after he bought his 2 wheeler, his blood sugar and pressure levels shot up and he suffered a haemorrhage.
He survived the impact, but was sadly paralysed and lived a very difficult life before passing away few years back. I have to say here that other than cycling, he did not have any routine physical activity.
So regular cycling is very good for your health. Especially for sedantary workers at office, who are mostly under exercised, this is a very good way to pep up their health. Cycling boosts heart health, improves immunity, builds muscles and exercises most of the body. More about cycling at Webmd.
Yoga is India’s gift to the world. It is a way of living. Yoga is becoming very popular these days as more and more people are looking up to it for well being. And it does not disappoint, it makes your life a lot more better and worth living. You can handle stress better, improve or completely get rid of your ailments, and can feel the wellness right within you. It activates the inner organs.
There are different forms of yoga, defined by asanas/postures and breathing techniques, which form the basis of all types of yoga. Yoga is not some weight reducing or muscle building activity. It is something which you should do slowly, based on the comfort level of your body. Whatever kind of yoga you choose, try to be regular with it, if you are looking for results.
When I was into my twenties I was suffering from severe knee pain, which aggravated during menstruation. None of the treatments including ayurveda, (I had to gulp a good amount of the bitter kashayams) gave me relief. I had to take days off from work, making people wonder how I could get knee pain at such an age.
Mom, naturally worried, was trying everything she could to find some worthwhile remedy for me. She came to know about a 13 day yoga programme, which was in vogue those days and enrolled me in it. They only taught pranayama and meditation, along with talks for improving life. Mom insisted and persisted and made me do those exercises twice everyday for 6 months. And thanks to her I finally got rid of my knee pain 🙂 .
Pranayama or breathing exercise and meditation is a must do for everyone. A word of caution here. Refrain from doing unguided meditation, as it can cause very serious issues for some people. There are lots of different types of meditation, and if one type did not suit you, go for the others which work for you.
I was really very surprised to come across quite a few reports on the side effects of meditation, as I always believed meditation is good for us. Hubby had to discontinue the meditation he was practising after he had severe headaches, everytime he meditated. Some people have reportedly suffered worse than this. The best practise would be to stop any activity when you see that it harms or pains you. More about it in this report and this.
As regards asanas, doing all the asanas everyday is not possible. So you can select the ones that best fit your body needs and ones which you are comfortable doing. For instance, I attended a yoga class when I was working at Trichy, in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu. There were separate classes for males and females, and the set of asanas that we were taught was good for females or the female system.
(P.S. For people in Trichy, in case you are interested, this course is conducted inside the Ayyapan temple, Cantonment by one Mr Gowthaman, every Sunday afternoon for 6 months. The fee then was Rs 700/-. You may get in touch with the temple authorities, if interested. Don’t worry if you belong to other religions, coz I had quite a few Christian friends attending the class with me. And the temple is normally closed during this time.)
I have so far learned yoga from 4 teachers, and I definitely know atleast what is necessary for me. I am aware of the far reaching benefits of yoga, still the lazy me does not do it regularly. Every month I take those three days off, and then its starting trouble for me 😀 . So for people like me, atleast try to do the Surya namaskar, bhastrika, kapalabhati and savasana daily.
For ready reference, am posting the following videos. It is done by Mr Srinivasan Ramanathan, who was one of my teachers. He uses simple language to teach, and this is exactly what he taught us in class. So you can definitely follow without any hiccups. He has his own website sssyoga.com where he has videos of most of the asanas. Interested people may look up.
He regularly conducts free classes at Al Bhanush club, Mesaieed, Qatar.
Other Useful Practices
1 .Oil Pulling
This is an age old ayurvedic technique, which is believed to pull out toxins from the body. It involves swishing about a tablespoon of any oil in the mouth for about 20 minutes, on an empty stomach and spitting it out. The oil will turn to white and water like, which is when you have to spit it out.
In the nineties, oil pulling suddenly caught the attention of a lot of people in South India, where I grew up. There was a popular sesame oil company which even sold small 10ml sachets of sesame oil for easy oil pulling. But putting that quantity of oil into your mouth wasn’t a very pleasant feel, and I don’t think many people tried. But I get a whole lot of energy to try something, where most people don’t tread 🙂 .
So I tried, though now it has become kind of occassional. Back then I could see results, especially with regard to my skin. My skin was glowing and my face became cute and bright, that people started asking me what I was doing. Overall I had a feeling of wellness.
My usual practise was to put the oil in the mouth while going to bathe, and keep swishing till my morning bathroom routine finishes, around 30 minutes. Then spit it out and brush. But this schedule is not working now, as in our present house, the drain pipes are getting clogged very frequently. Btw, the general advise is to spit in the bin, as spitting in the sink can clog drains. Still looking for an alternate time to continue this practise 😀 .
Again, there are lots of reports “for ” and “against” this practise too. Not going too much into the ifs and buts, we can atleast accept certain facts that swishing will exercise the facial muscles and improve circulation which is bound to make our face radiant.
2 ) Exercising the joints
I came across a video by Healer Baskar, on joint exercise which seemed pretty easy to follow. He says that there are 9 joints in the body. These when moved 10 times in the clockwise and another 10 times in the anti- clockwise direction, exercises the joints, relieving all kinds of pain. Though I am not sure of the pain getting relieved, this is definitely one good way of exercising our joints, and it doesn’t even take so much time.
Am enclosing his youtube video for easy reference. Non-tamilians can view from time 1.07 to 3.07 for the exercises.
3 )Exercise for the eye
I came across this book, “Better Eyesight without glasses” by Dr W.H. Bates. Through his vast researches and experiments on quite a number of his patients he discovered that all vision problems were on account of the strain on eyes. This according to him can be reversed by relaxing the eyes using a simple technique which he calls “Palming” .
But his findings were not accepted by the medical fraternity and they banned his publication. That was years back. There are still controversies on his research, but I can see lots of reports on the net, of people following his techniques and restoring their vision. These are all ways to relax the eye, and are not known to cause any harm. However discontinue practise if you find it does not suit you.
You can find the original version on the internet here & download it. There are quite a few videos on the Bates techniques but this one is very short and easily understandable.
A simple clapping for 2 minutes, will exercise all your nerves, is what I learnt from this video. Swami Divya Sagar goes on to say that clapping will get rid of all pains in the body, improves memory power, strengthens bones and gives good sleep. Though lots of other claims in the video may be far fetched, it will not do us any harm to invest two minutes of our time in this every day.
To do this, tighten your hands and clap with full strength and force for a good two minutes. You can clap above your head, at chest level or below. But believe me, those 2 minutes will seem never ending 😀 . Here is the video.
5 ) Massaging
Our hands contain a lot of pressure points, which when pressed give quite some relief to the routine aches in the body. This aspect is related to acupressure or reflexology. Its pretty difficult to be conversant with all the points, and their benefits. But as a daily practice, spending a few minutes to massage, every part in the front and back of both the hands will do a world of good.
For me, applying pressure with one hand on the other seemed bit of a strain. So here is what I do. With some pressure, I roll a pencil between my hands, over my hands, along the sides as well as the wrist of both hands. When I do this, I can sense the gases trapped in my body getting released. Applying pressure on the upper right side of the left hand (on the side of the palm), has eased my shoulder pain. So also rolling over the pencil on my fingers, have greatly reduced my arm pain.
This can be practised whenever we find time. Daily practice can improve our overall wellness, though if you have chronic aches it would be best to consult a doctor.
Apart from this ensure
- That you take a break when you happen to sit or stand for a long time.
- That you stare away from your screen every few minutes when you work with computers.
- Take deep breaths throughout the day whenever you remember. This will normalise your blood pressure as well as relax you.
- Blink every now and then as this moisturises your eye and prevents dryness.
So that was about exercising effectively. Coming up is “Eating Right”
……..to be continued