In a world inundated with over-the-counter medicines, prescriptions, and pills to supposedly cure any ailment, it's good to know that there are alternative approaches to preventing disease and maximizing health. Most of these, like eating well, sleeping enough and exercising, seem like simple common sense, but their origins can be traced to a healthcare system thousands of years old called Ayurveda.
The name Ayurveda means the "Science of Life" for a reason - it is a user's manual for how to live a happy and healthy life. It works as a complete healthcare system which is fundamentally different from those in place today. The responsibility of health lies not in the profits of a business, but rather with each individual. We are provided with the knowledge to become our own Primary Care giver by learning to recognize what constitutes our unique state of health (Prakriti), and how to maintain it.
Being healthy is a life-long process, and although it may seem restrictive at first, it's really an opportunity to discover your optimum state of health. Here's what Ayurveda advises:
1. Eat according to your Prakriti
Your natural constitution, or Prakriti, is your unique combination of bodily components (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Each one has its own preferences and dislikes, and that's part of the reason why not all diets work for everyone. For example, a Pitta person would thrive on a raw food diet, whereas a Vata person would not. Once you learn about your Prakriti, you can customize your diet to keep yourself healthy, every day of every year.
Everyone needs sleep - but how much? Again, this depends on your Prakriti. Kapha types need about 6 hours, Pittas need about 7, and Vatas do best with 8. Everyone is better off in bed around 10pm, and when you wake up you should feel refreshed and energetic.
3. Exercise within your limits
Working up a good sweat a few times each week is necessary for everyone. But pushing the limits may not be giving you the benefits you're hoping for. Over-exertion induces wear and tear, and repeated episodes can set the stage for early onset of a host of degenerative conditions including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and osteo-arthritis.
4. Detoxify with seasonal cleansing
Seasonal accumulation of toxins in the body is a natural phenomenon according to Ayurveda, with more emphasis placed on internally generated toxins rather than those consumed from external sources. Panchakarma is the mainstay for removal of these toxins, and its regular use can literally turn the clock back on many biological processes.
5. Always attend to your body's calls of nature
Poop and pee aren't the only ones in this category. Ayurveda lists 13 types of natural urges which should never be held back when they manifest, otherwise they could be directly causing disease. So whenever you feel the need to pee, poop, ejaculate, pass gas, vomit, sneeze, burp, yawn, eat (because you're hungry), drink (because you're thirsty), cry, sleep or breathe deeply - do it!
6. Keep good company
Good friends mean everything when it comes to relaxing, unwinding and enjoying life. Be with those who are supportive, genuine and honest, and who care for you when you need it.
7. Work for what you believe in
Being healthy means being happy - and that becomes a lot easier when you wake up every day with enthusiasm to do what you love. If you can't combine that with your job, make sure you get enough free time each week to pursue your hobbies, enrich your spirit and love your life.
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