The New Year is a good time to begin a daily routine that includes yoga and meditation says ayurvedacharyaV VASUDEVAN to REENA SINGH
We’ve fallen into some dreadful traps — we snack at odd times on chips, chocolates and cookies, sleep past midnight and then wake up with barely enough time to reach our offices or college on time. We always seem to be in a rush.
“That’s not good at all. Ayurveda recommends early to bed and early to rise,” says ayurvedacharya V Vasudevan, director, Arsha Yoga VidyaPeetam, Coimbatore. Ideally, one should be up at least an hour before sunrise. Early morning yoga fills you with energy, power and enthusiasm — and that is useful for your activities through the day. People caught in the fast-paced life of cities need to spend some time to think about their health. In the peace and quiet of early mornings, one can do that easily.
Yoga is easy to do and does not require any special equipment or place unlike a gym routine or a special sport. Once you learn yoga, you can do it at home by yourself with a mat and small space in any room or outdoors. “But it works only if you get up early. Start before other people are up in the house. You can finish by 6am and have enough time to get ready for work. But you can’t do this if you sleep late and are in the habit of getting up at 8am with barely enough time to rush to work.” You can’t do it in the evenings when you are back from work — you are tired and you will soon give up.
Another recommendation from the ayurvedacharya is that you regulate your food habits and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner (with nothing in-between) on time. “The digestive process then becomes efficient and you get good absorption and assimilation of food only when the food is fully digested. But it needs time for that, so maintaining proper food timings is important. A common reason for illness is that people don’t know their body and overeat, before the previous food in the stomach is digested,” he says.
Stick to foods where you know the ingredients. Restaurant food may be high on taste, but you don’t know what it contains and therefore, you may end up eating the wrong food combinations, a big ‘no’ in ayurveda.
“Adopt a lifestyle devoid of junk food. Our food and lifestyle choices should be such that we pacify vata conditions. Fixing time for yoga, pranayama, meditation and regulating food and your lifestyle accordingly with a daily bath help us maintain both physical and mental health,” says the doctor.
Ayurveda believes there is a relationship between mind and body and whatever you do should be for both mind and body. While you do take a bath for external cleansing, you ignore what’s happening inside the body and regular panchakarma treatments are important for detoxification. In the olden days, people would regularly take laxatives twice a year, but we now no longer do that.
“Mind and body are interrelated. Whatever happens on the mental level impacts the body. For instance, changes happen on the metabolic level whenever there are changes in your thought forms,” says the doctor.
Is there a way, then, to control your thoughts and overcome anger and depression so that you are healthier in mind and body? “No one really wants anger, yet it comes. So, you can’t suddenly stop it. Make changes in your lifestyle; try to change your thoughts. Concentrate on exercise, breathing, positive thinking and relaxation.
We seem to have forgotten how to relax. In a situation where you are totally tense, tell yourself consciously that you shouldn’t be so tense. Consciously change or transform your negative thoughts to positive thinking. When you are angry, you have anger, hatred and envy and you just have to release these emotions. Instead, try and do things that will awaken your mind to thoughts on affection, compassion and kindness. This is a sadhana or practice that you have to learn to do,” he says.
But you can do this only when you know that there is an imbalance and for this you need to do some self-analysis. Only then, can you can begin to think positive thoughts and make a transformation to change your character. “Each thought has an impact on your physical health, just as each abnormality in the physical body affects the mind. When you are in pain, you cannot relax. It will affect your mind and you will be depressed. One can even get cancer due to stress. That causes more stress and it becomes a vicious cycle,” says the ayurvedacharya.