Category Archives: Body

Body

Handy Guide That Prepares You to Eat the Right Way

Several scientists, psychologists, and researchers are working to establish Yoga as a science for holistic well-being. It is needless to say that food has a direct impact on a person’s physical health. In concurrence with the nature of empirical sciences, tests are being conducted to establish the connection between food and mental health. While the adventurists can continue to explore in this area, there have been Rishis (sages) and Maharishis (great sages) who lived and proved the connect. One such Hath Yoga Practitioner Swami Swatmarama has organized and elucidated just on food.

You to Eat the Right Way

Which Food is the Right Food?

Several ancient yoga texts emphasize on having the right food in right proportion. Now the question is which food is right and which one is wrong? Well, the answer is simple. Be your own Guru! You can be guided by your physicians and dieticians or some Instagram celebrity who vouches for a diet. But, if you carefully listen to your body it will give you the chart. In the meantime, you can refer to what Swami Muktibodhananda has explained in her book Hath Yoga Pradipika (as guided by Swami Swatmarama):

salmon fish healthy food

1) Accept Your Uniqueness:

First thing, you need to keep in mind is that each human possesses distinct body type and mental disposition. You need to be patient and accept your body. It is with acceptance you show your willingness to grow. What turns out to be an excellent fat burner recipe for your neighbor might be toxic for you. Hence, you need to first IDENTIFY and then ACCEPT as you are.

2) Welcome the Change:

Don’t just stop at acceptance and be proud of who you are. You need to be soft and analytical about yourself. Take measures to eliminate the toxins that you have been hoarding in your body without any rent. Identify the habits which are easier to let go and begin with them. It sends ‘feel good’ signals to your brain and you automatically gear up for more such changes.

3) Vegetarian or Non – Vegetarian?

The topic whether to consume vegetarian or not to give up on the non-vegetarianism will always be debatable. There have been Indian Maharishis and even Western Philosophers who insisted on VEGETARIANISM. But, there have been rationalist philosophers and great Yoga Practitioners who would consume meat when offered. To reiterate, it will always be a personal choice and it should be that way always.

4) Geography:

A significant factor that controls what you eat is the geography. The Yoga texts like ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’ by Swami Muktibodhananda might more or less prescribe you with an elaborate list of foods that are allowed and disallowed. But, you need to be practical and incorporate fresh and local produce has also been mentioned. One cannot possibly think of sustaining the body without nourishing it in the right way.

5) Seasons:

On the same lines of geography goes the climate. You should learn about the seasonal vegetables and fruits that are available at your place. This will help you to pick food that will actually nourish your body and keep you healthy. The times we are living in currently, makes it tougher to get hold of organic food. Invest some time in finding the bio markets. If possible, plant herbs and try to cook food at home.

6) Mitahara [Conducive Food]:

Hatha Yoga Pradipika has enumerated with great clarity about the food items that are conducive and prohibited for the yoga practitioners. ‘MITAHARA’ helps in eliminating the toxins and reinstate the balance in the body. The primary reason food is discussed in detail is to gain good control over not just the body but also the mind. In order to be capable of attaining the asanas [postures] and dhyana [concentration], one needs to have rock solid determination. And, this mental state can be achieved with the right food.

7) Cheat Codes:

It is very HUMAN to give into the TEMPTATION. And honestly, there is nothing to feel guilty about it. In fact, one should take it as a lesson and move ahead. You can give in to your temptations or else the body my throw certain reactions like the same of an addict. However, stay focused and cheat only in limited amounts. Compensate by doing something that will make you happy [certainly not eating more]! As you discipline your mind, you can overcome the habit of deviating from your healthy lifestyle.

Things that have been listed in the ancient texts might be practically impossible to follow in this century. It also depends on the availability and accessibility of such food items. The key here is to work gradually and grow firmly each day with your determination. You will have to make amends in the list as per the availability of vegetables and fruits in your neighborhood. So, stay strong and start making a list of the fruits and veggies that are organic and available to you easily.

Eating Like A Yogi!

“I live in a city. How am I supposed to follow a diet of a yogi?” Well, you do not have to go into the woods and live like a hermit to inculcate his food habits. You can very much live in the busiest, bustling city and have the food that keeps your body healthy and mind peaceful. The most disheartening thing to witness is people doing meditation and following a very unhealthy lifestyle.

Philosophy of Yoga and Food:

Eating like a yogi

Many ardent followers of yoga are under a huge misconception that yoga is just about the asanas [postures] and meditation. Yoga is a philosophy, a way of life. It is an attitude to bring harmony first in your own life and with that enlightened harmony spread peace in the lives of others. Food is an integral part of yoga and has been elaborately covered in several ancient yoga texts. ‘Mitahar’ or food conducive to health for creating balance has been given special emphasis in ‘Hathyoga’ text study. From one food lover to another I will make it easier for you to follow the diet of a yogi.

The key is working gradually and growing firmer each day in your determination.

#1: Chew The Food:

You cannot just denounce the junk food and feel better about yourself. Many people abstain from their favorite food and bounce back badly. Results are they put on more weight than they actually lost. Parents keep telling their children to chew the food and themselves forget to enjoy the bite themselves. A dietician will study your body type and prescribe with an elaborate list of must-have food and must-have-not food. Unfortunately, not many of them address the habit of chewing the food properly. Just like breathing, chewing is self-taught. And just like yoga teaches you to breathe properly for meditation, it does teach you about chewing for better concentration while meditating and perfecting the postures.

Science on chewing:

When I was young, my grandfather used to make me chew my food 32 times. I asked him why he replied, “there’s a reason why God gave us 32 teeth.” Well, I couldn’t depend on God for my facts and had to research. Science says there are 4 types of teeth for cutting, tearing, and crushing the food. But, what we actually do is chew it a few times and simply swallow. What happens later is that your intestines have to do the chewing. This takes up a lot of energy and you end up feeling lethargic.

The Trick:

Even if you are late, chew the food. You will have to make it fast but make it a point that you crush the food thoroughly before swallowing. Almost 30% of the food digestion is triggered because of the saliva. Unless you keep the food in your mouth and chew it properly, the saliva will not get to play its part. The lesser your intestine has to chew; the more energetic you would feel. Feel every bite and crush it until it is almost liquid or semi-liquid. Avoid drinking water or any other beverage during your meals.

#2: Quantity of the Food:

Mastering the technique of chewing doesn’t mean that you are free to overeat. Also, filling your belly with too many fruits, salads or nuts doesn’t make you healthy either. Yoga and diet are about balance. It celebrates each body as it and encourages you to understand your better than anyone else [that includes your physician and even dietician]. Hathayoga Pradipika [an ancient text on the Hathayoga practices] suggests that your stomach should be filled half with food, a quarter with water and other quarter with air. This is an ideal quantity to eat food.

Science on Quantity:

If you think that you should be eating till the point when your body sends you a signal by burping, then you are wrong. According to several sages who practiced Yoga their whole life say that belching or burping is not a good sign. It simply means you have overeaten and your body cannot take it anymore. So, even if you claim to have chewed your food properly, overeating will push you into your lethargy zone. Also, if you have truly chewed your food, you will NEVER overeat.

The Trick:

You will have to do away with your attitude that you live to eat. Yoga and food say that you eat to live. This simply means that every morsel you hold to eat has to be seen with great divinity. You have to be first thankful that you get to eat the food which is a luxury for some. Secondly, you will have to develop an attitude that each bite you take is for the higher spirit that rests within you. The body which is simply a tool to reaching it has to be fed well with good food.

Let’s settle with these 2 techniques first. Only when you absorb them, only when they become an integral nature just like breathing, you can proceed further. There is no need to be harsh on yourself anymore. No more crash diets or painful abstinence from unhealthy food right away. Let us take baby steps together and accomplish smaller goals first to hit the bigger ones!

Magical Uses of the Rock Salt

rock salt

I know you must be thinking of some ‘Supernatural’ adventures with the ‘Winchester boys’ but this one is nothing less than a magic. Many people use rock salt as a natural supplement instead of salt. This certainly has numerous health benefits. You must have heard some unusual stories about the rock salt, but discarded them as myths. Primary reason why these uses never made it into the books was the inconsistency in usage. While some fail to give you the right proportions or techniques to use, others fail to list the benefits.

Over the years I have been intensively researching about the uses of rock salt in different traditions. Coming from a multi-ethnic and multi-religious land with its ethos built over the span of 5000 years, I have compiled surprising uses of rock salt. They never made it in any literature except from some shady journals mainly because they belong to the traditions of oral literature. Folk stories that were sung, mixing home grown herbs for home remedies were all a part of ancestral wealth in India.

While you can certainly hunt for the empirical benefits of Rock Salt enumerated by the scientists, here I intend to discuss the unconventional uses of rock salt. The results are magical and you may roar ‘what sorcery is this?’ yet there is a reason behind it.

A fresh start will leave you energized throughout the day. While you may be bathing with your shower gel and shampoos, this century old traditional method is known to clear the aura. A 90 year old neighbor, who always had a cheerful demeanor even after losing her loved ones always left me in awe of her. I use to sit patiently for hours, listening to her stories. One day she shared her bathing ritual with the rock salt. I quickly penned it down in my moleskin.

Directions to Use:

  1. Take one fist of rock salt in a steel pan or a steel cooking pot.
  2. Heat it gently on a low heat over your stovetop for about 10 minutes.
  3. While heating, continuously and gently stir the salt with a wooden spatula.
  4. The heat she said breaks the energy of the salt and releases it.
  5. Turn off the heat after 10 minutes and empty the salt in a small glass bowl.
  6. Pour some water and gently move the salt in the bowl for about 5 or 10 seconds.
  7. Fill your bathtub with warm water (if you wish cold water you can do the same).
  8. Empty the moistened rock salt into the bathtub.
  9. Gently move the water in the bath tub with your hands.
  10. Don’t allow anyone else to touch your bathwater.
  11. Keep a glass of water with ½ teaspoon of rock salt in it near to your bathtub.
  12. Relax in the tub for about 30 minutes.

You will experience your skin and muscles relax as the salt enters your cells and atoms through your skin. Try to submerge in the tub as much as possible. She warned me that there are chances you might feel dizzy or experience pain. It can be a heavy and an uncomfortable experience on certain days.

  1. On such days place your hand on the glass of water with rock salt in it.
  2. The painful or harmful energies will be absorbed by the glass.
  3. Once you are done, dispose the glass water in the toilet and empty the tub. Make sure no salt residue remains in either the tub or the glass.

This at times looks like an elaborate ritual for all days. Hectic schedules and relentless activities might not leave us with time for such baths. She said that it is best to do it every day, as regularly cleansing the aura makes us strong to fight the negativity. Understanding my concern, for regular days, she suggested:

  1. Fill a bucket of water and put one fistful of rock salt in it.
  2. It will be best to atleast heat the salt in the steel pan as mentioned in the previous procedure.
  3. If you cannot heat the salt allow it sit there in the water bucket for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Bathe with this water.
  5. In such conditions it is best to bath twice a day.

When we return home and are tired with little or no energy for our family members, such baths can take away all our dullness.

Ambience Cleansing:

You must have felt a sudden dip in your energy levels upon entering a particular place. It can be your home, office or any social place. Even science has started to believe in presence of negative energies at places. It can be related to a negative gravitational pull because of wrong architectural structure or pure negative energies. The simplest way is to deal with them is with the rock salt.

Directions:

  1. Put rock salt lines outside the main entrance of your home.
  2. One thick line is sufficient.
  3. Similarly put the salt lines outside every door of the rooms in your home.
  4. You can clean them every day by collecting them in a dust pan and flushing them in the toilet.
  5. Or you can clean them every alternate day or once in a week.

You need to feel connected to the place to determine how often you should clean the rock salt. If you sense dropping of your energy intensely, you can do it daily or once a week is perfect. While this takes care of your home, you must be worried about your office. While some welcome such insights, some bosses might think of you as a special case or a follower of mumbo-jumbo. There are tricks to get things done without attracting any attention.

  1. Place a small glass bowl on your desk.
  2. Fill it with rock salt.
  3. Change it every alternate day or once a week.

This ordinary looking rock salt has give tremendously magical results in just few days. There are only two things that you would need – a) obviously the rock salt and b) your determination to stay positive as it pulls out the negativity. The heated salt when absorbs the water molecules and releases negative ions that creates a healthier atmosphere. Artificial electro-magnetic wavelengths transmitted by electronic devices around us leads to nervousness, insomnia and lack of concentration. Rock salt amplifies the natural frequency in the human brain and synchronizes it with the frequency resonated by the planet’s electro-magnetic field. In simpler words, the practice of cleansing the aura with rock salt stabilizes the alpha wave rhythms in your brain.

In our further article I will discuss in detail the usage of Rock Salt to ward off the evil eye.

D.I.Y. Breathing!!!

D.I.Y. Breathing

Ever wondered when do we exactly begin to breathe? Our lungs are filled with fluid when we are in the wombs. The first and the most profound change that we or our body experience upon birth is the ‘BREATH’. You might not want to believe that first few breaths after our birth are the most difficult ones. Science says that our first breaths are shallow and irregular so that we can adjust ourselves to the new life. Soon, our breaths become deeper and regular. But I feel that as we begin to grow, we tend to lose our ability to breathe fully and unencumbered.

Know your facts:

  • On an average majority of the people breathe 12-15 times in one minute. This way they use only 20% or even lesser capacity of their lungs.
  • Consequences of such shallow breathing are innumerable. From mild headaches to anxiety and sleeplessness to stress, everything is related with our breathing.
  • There are several factors like restricting clothing, bad posture, mindlessly sitting in front of computer or T.V., diets, pollution, smoking etc. that lead to rushed breathing.
  • You need to expand your lung capacity by deeper and fuller breathing. The first sign of such breathing is that your 12-15 breathes per minute will come down gradually.
  • What more? It will come to you naturally and instinctively. You’ll not have to consciously put efforts into it.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • What The Yogis Say:

I always felt there is something very poetic and musical about breathing. Upon research I came across some delightful insights by Yogis who have mastered the art of breathing. They believe that breathing 11 times per minute makes you understand the language of the birds and the animals around you. When you pull it 9 times per minute, you’ll learn the language of the Earth. The moment it goes to 7 times per minute, you prepare yourself to know the meaning of existence.

  • Take Your Time:

You have to be natural and not mechanical. You can’t sit with a timer in your hand and count your breaths. It takes enormous efforts and consistent practice for our body to adjust to the natural clocks of the universe. You’ll have to begin by pulling out some time to practice slow, deep and wider breathing. Set a time of the day and do not miss that time no matter what.

  • What You’ll Notice:

Within a week or two, you’ll witness the results of your discipline. Your body will be more stable and won’t notice static nor crackle. It will simply begin to adjust and align itself with the Earth. Your nervous system will slowly evolve and the number of breaths that you take will come down naturally. The fast paced life will not bother you anymore.

  • Say Bye-Bye:

The moment your breath is on the path of stability, the disturbances of your life will be gone. Soon, you’ll gain the ability to see your life clearly and deal with all the petty issues happily. You’ll not need any self-help books or inspirational talks for strength.

  • Smile:

While you are stretching your lungs and belly, let your face stretch too. Smile when you are practicing the deep breaths. It will pass some happy messages to your body, your mind and heart. It will effectively instill happiness and contentment.

BreathingD.I.Y. Steps For Natural And Instinctive Breathing:

  • First Rule is to not take this as an exercise. Practice it as often as you can so that it comes to you naturally every time you do it.
  • Inhale deeply. Let your belly inflate. You will feel a stretch in your lungs.
  • Hold for a moment. This allows the oxygen to reach the cells and saturate them.
  • Exhale slowly with a short burst. This will help your diaphragm activate.
  • Choose a time when you can practice in silence. This will help you to monitor yourself with focus.

Once the practice seeps into your system, you’ll no longer need to set out time for it. The slow, rhythmic breathing will become a part of you. Every thought you think and every action you do will match the beats of your breathing.