A balanced diet and daily exercise routine is essential to a healthy mind and body. But that’s just the beginning when it comes to optimum health. Ayurveda's ancient teachings have many lesser-known practices that can assist with things like weight-loss, detoxifying the body, and improving your overall mind, body, and spirit connection.
A study done at UC San Francisco took 47 overweight women and divided them into two groups. Only one group received training in “mindful eating” and meditated 30 minutes a day. During the four-month period, the women who meditated lost more than a pound of belly fat and showed a big decrease in their cortisol levels (linked to stress) while the control group continued to gain weight.
Meditation can include anything from breath awareness to moving meditation or yoga. Choose the ones that resonate with you and stick with them. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
2. Pranayama (Breathing Exercises)
Deep diaphragmatic breathing clears the lungs of carbon dioxide, and increases oxygen intake, providing you body with more vital energy. Deep belly breathing also massages your internal organs and promotes digestion by stimulating metabolism and encouraging peristalsis.
Try this: Kapalabhati is a breathing technique that uses your abdominal muscles to pull in your belly along with repeated forceful exhalations. This is said to strengthen the Agni or digestive fire and can actually give your abdomen a nice workout.
3. Tongue Scraping
This oral hygiene practice has been proven to remove toxins on your tongue better than a toothbrush. If your taste buds are covered with bacteria and plaque, it makes it harder to taste your food. This typically leads to going overboard on salt and loading up on sweeteners, and can result in overeating.
Try this: Place the tongue scraper as far back on your tongue as is comfortable. Using firm but gentle pressure, slide the scraper from the back of your tongue to the tip. Rinse and clean off the scraper and repeat until there’s no chalky residue left. Takes about 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Oil Pulling
Just like in tongue scraping, when you remove toxins and bacteria from the mouth it leads to detoxification of the body. Dr. F. Karach, M.D., who is responsible for introducing oil pulling to the modern world, claims it has the ability to treat various illnesses, ranging from digestive disorders to heart disease.
Try this: Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of cold pressed organic sesame or coconut oil and vigorously swish it around in your mouth like you would mouthwash. After about 15 to 20 minutes, spit the saponified oil out and dispose of it.
Numerous studies have shown the amazing health benefits of massage, including lowered blood pressure, increased muscle tone, stress reduction, and increased lymphatic flow (thereby reducing edema). The National Institute of Health did a study in 2009 concluding that abdominal massage successfully reduced constipation and increased bowel movements.
Try this: If you aren't able to get to a spa, try a self-massage or Abhyanga with any high-quality organic oil. Ayurveda suggests using either sesame or coconut oil.
1) Warm the oil and apply it to the entire body from your scalp to your toes.
2) Take more oil and spend some time on each area of your body, using circular movements over the joints and long strokes over the long areas of your body like the forearms and thighs.
3) Spend some time where there are nerve endings including your scalp, hands, and feet.
4) Massage your abdomen in a clockwise motion for improved digestion.
Put some love into your self-massage and take your time.