Column: It's My Health!
The Structure of Health
by Gerald Lopez, LLB; Dip.Ayurvedic Medicine
Every worthwhile objective has a plan. The most successful athletes have training programmes. Good cars have service schedules. Serious businesses have business plans.
So why are we so haphazard about our health? Why do so many people leave their health to "chance", and then blame their fate when they get sick?
Lifelong good health can be planned
The simplest plan is a daily routine. Having a daily health routine is like parking with your car facing downhill it's easier to get started!
A daily routine:
I have compiled a simple routine based on the ancient sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga. By adopting it, you will be in good hands and you will reap great rewards.
Wake up before the sun
According to Ayurveda and Yoga, when you jump out of bed at around 6 am, you will feel lighter and more energetic throughout the day. The quietness and subtle energy of pre-dawn are also conducive to meditation (discussed below).
Go to the toilet, scrape tongue and brush teeth
Having the habit of voiding the bowels in the morning encourages regularity. Scraping the tongue removes buildup of wastes on the tongue, freshening the breath. Not only will you have got rid of your physical wastes, but you will also feel mentally refreshed and ready for the new day.
Perform self massage
Self-massage stimulates circulation, flushes wastes and improves complexion. Massage yourself from head to toes with vigorous strokes. Women, gently massage your breasts, helping remove wastes and tone supporting muscles.
Vata people should use warming, nourishing sesame oil. Pitta people benefit from cooling coconut oil. Leave oil on for 20 minutes or so before having a warm shower.
Kapha people can do a dry massage, using ayurvedic raw silk gloves, which stimulate energy, mobilise fat, and exfoliate the skin. Be very gentle on, or avoid, the chest area - but you can be more vigorous around the thighs and buttocks!
See my previous article explaining the concepts of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Do some stimulating exercise
Morning exercise stimulates metabolism and circulation this is a far healthier awakener than coffee!
Yoga is an excellent form of controlled, low-impact exercise and even more beneficial if you focus your mind on your body and your breath. The Sun Salute is an ideal energising and detoxifying yoga series. Finish with a 3-5 minute breathing exercise, and a couple of minutes of lying-down relaxation.
Early morning is the best time for meditation, when your mind is light and subtle, and there are no distractions.
Have regular meals
Regularity of meals is helpful for the body it then knows when to prepare for the next meal. Irregular meals upsets digestion, and also means we ignore our hunger in order to get jobs done. Regular meals, with minimum snacking, optimises digestion and helps with balancing weight.
See my previous article for further info on healthy eating habits.
Wind down before bed
Spend an hour switching off from the day's activities, preparing the body and mind for getting the deepest, most recharging sleep. Stop the television and computer, which excite the brain. Withdraw from books and social interaction. Dim the lights. Do some gentle stretches and some deep breathing. Have a glass of warm milk with some ginger, cardamom and nutmeg these help induce sleep.
Sleep at 10
According to Ayurveda, the period before 10 pm is the best for going to sleep after that you get "second wind" and want to stay up longer, and may find falling asleep difficult. By naturally maximising the quality of your sleep - which no sleep-inducing drug can do - you maximise your energy reserves for the next day, and allow the body to restore its healthful balance.
I personally found that the above routine turned around decades of chronically low energy. I now perform much more than I did 20 years ago and no longer have my afternoon nap!
One more note If you find the above pointers interesting and relevent to you, please decide to start your routine today. We all have a 48-hour window to ACT, after which our best intentions and plans turn to dust...
In the next issue I shall talk about the yogic concept of bio-energy called Prana. I believe this concept has the potential to turn around our society's health paradigms offering a whole lifetime of vigorous health and mental power.
* For information on how to obtain massage oils and silk massage gloves, contact Gerald at his website www.gerald-lopez.com
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