It’s the new year and we habitually set New Year’s resolutions. Quite often, at least one resolution involves our health. Ayurveda teaches us to live in harmony with our environment and thus have healthier lives. The following are ten simple Ayurvedic health tips to implement for a more fulfilling new year.
1. Use a tongue cleaner. Did you know that each part of the tongue is connected to a bodily organ? Thus utilizing a tongue cleaner removes the toxins which have accumulated overnight and stimulates the organs in the morning, so that they function more optimally. Upon rising, brush your teeth and scrape your tongue, before ingesting anything. A stainless steel tongue scraper is good for all three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Kapha people can also use copper tongue cleaners.
2. Gargle with sesame oil. To strengthen the teeth and gums, to help with TMJ, and deter from the appearance of wrinkles, swish some sesame oil around in your mouth for 5-10 minutes. Do so after you brush your teeth and scrape your tongue. After swishing the oil around, you can spit it out. Massaging your gums afterwards will be even more beneficial
3. Add turmeric to your diet. Turmeric is one of the most healing spices in your pantry. It’s anti-bacterial, a blood purifier, as well as a great digestive, among many other qualities. You can start the day (after brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue) by having a glass of warm water with ½ – 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. You can utilize turmeric when cooking your vegetables or lentils. Turmeric is also available in tablet and tincture form.
4. Oil massage. Are you plagued by constant dryness? Rather than looking for the best moisturizer on the market, address the cause internally. The dryness is inside the body, and that is where it needs to be alleviated. Doing an oil massage, or abhyanga, and then taking a warm shower allows the oil to penetrate into the skin and help relieve the dryness inside. For oil massage, those with a Vata imbalance can use sesame oil, those with a Pitta imbalance can use sunflower oil or coconut oil, and people with a Kapha imbalance may use sesame oil or sunflower oil. Make sure you use a bath mat, as the tub and shower get slippery with the oil. An injury could really aggravate the doshas!
5. Pranayama. Looking for more vitality? Are you a shallower breather? Do you get nasal congestion easily? Do you want to learn some simple methods to cool down or warm up? If the answer to any of the previous questions is yes, then add some pranayama or breathing exercises to your daily routine. There are various types of pranayama which have a multitude of health benefits. My Ayurvedic teacher, Dr. Vasant Lad, has a very informative dvd, which anyone can follow. The appropriate use of each technique is also discussed.
6. Eat when hungry. Ayurveda advises that we listen to our body and eat when we are hungry, and not just for the sake of social graces. On the other end of the spectrum, Ayurveda also stresses that we should not suppress our natural urges, including the need for food. Don’t get so caught up in your busy lifestyle that you forget or neglect to nourish your body!
7. Avoid frozen foods – it’s a medical fact that anything below our body temperature constricts our capillaries. The body goes into an initial shock, similar to when we jump into a pool. If the capillaries constrict, then it’s more difficult for nutrients to proper flow through our body. Thus, assimilation, absorption, and digestion is impaired. Cold increases Vata dosha.
8. Avoid leftovers. According to Ayurveda, anything over 24 hours old loses its prana (also known as chi, or life force). Microwaving kills the prana immediately. Thus, Ayurveda advocates eating freshly prepared food. If you are what you eat, then wouldn’t you rather be a nourishing warm meal than a cold leftover? Resolve to start cooking more. There are plenty of simple recipes which can take 15 minutes or less to prepare.
9. Follow a regular schedule. A key Ayurvedic health tip to allow the body to live in harmony with nature is to create natural cycles within the body. This includes having the same times daily for rising, eating, sleeping, exercising, working, etc. The more that we honor the cycles of time and allow our body to acclimate to them, the more our body will be able to support us. Keeping erratic schedules deranges Vata dosha.
10. Learn the best foods for your current constitutional balance and eat accordingly. One of the best Ayurvedic health tips is to eat right for your current constitutional type, or your vikruti. If you eat what your body needs, rather than what your mind craves, you are on the road to more vitality and improved health. This simple free quiz is a good start. A personalized Ayurvedic health consultation will provide you with additional guidance about how to best structure your diet, lifestyle, and daily routine. Then you can truly keep your New Year’s resolution regarding good health.