We all have health goals that we would like to achieve, it is important to be realistic about what we can change that is practical and easy! Ayurveda is full of natural health tips that are actually very easy to integrate into your daily life that don't require massive sacrifice or effort that can totally change your life.
1. Start your day with the right breakfast. What you eat first thing in the morning sets the tone of your entire day. Your digestion can either be boosted or totally extinguished depending on what you eat or don't eat in the morning. Ayurveda teaches that the root cause of all disease starts with improper digestion. A hot, whole grain porridge such as congee is the ideal breakfast to kindle your digestive fire, improve absorption, and balance your metabolism. It's easy to cook in a crock pot overnight so that when you wake up, it's all ready to go!
2. Sip warm water with meals. You've heard how important it is to drink plenty of water. But maybe you haven't heard that you should avoid iced water and drink warm water instead. Ayurveda teaches that iced or refrigerated drinks actually inhibit digestion, and that warm water improves it. It is especially important while you're eating a meal to drink warm water to aid in the digestive process. Drinking too much water during a meal dilutes the enzymes necessary to fully break down food, so sipping is considered healthier than gulping big glasses during the meal. Gulping can be done in between meals! It only takes a little getting used to asking your waiter for water with no ice, or better yet, a mug of hot water with lemon, and you will feel how you are digesting your meals much more efficiently and without any gas or bloating.
3. Soothe your sinuses daily. Ayurveda teaches that it is extremely important to keep all of your internal cavities well oiled to prevent illness and maintain optimal health for a long life. Many people can relate to having various sinus problems, whether it's seasonal allergies, chronic congestion, sinus infections, or headaches. Considering that the mucus membranes in the sinuses are the first line of defense as air enters our body, we want to make sure that they are doing their job for our immune system. Dryness and inflammation are actually a huge contributor to congestion and allergies. Neti pots are getting a lot of press these days as a great way to keep our sinuses clean. Less well known is that it is important to insert a few drops of herbal oils into the nose each day to keep the sinus tissues healthy and supple. If done on a daily basis, even twice a day, you will avoid many of the common colds, coughs, and headaches that keep you from fully enjoying good health during the year.
4. Give yourself a warm oil massage.Continuing the "oil your body" theme, a great Ayurvedic practice for your mind and body is abhyanga, a self-massage using warm oil. It's best to apply the warm oil all over your body right before a hot bath or shower so that the oil can easily penetrate into the deeper tissues and joints. Abhyanga serves to calm the nervous system, strengthen the joints and connective tissue, and stimulate the internal organs. It's best to choose the type of oil that is appropriate for your Ayurvedic constitution, or you can simply use raw sesame oil, which is good for all types. One of the best things about abhyanga is that by doing this healing practice several times a week, you are paying close attention to your physical body in a loving and attentive way. We all could benefit from more self-love, and this self-massage is an excellent way to practice this and reap some serious health benefits as well.
5. Daily Detox. If you never did anything else for your health besides taking Triphala, you'd still be better off than most people. Triphala is one of the most important Ayurvedic herbal formulas because it serves as a powerful detox for the digestive tract while at the same time rejuvenating the entire body. A clean internal environment is necessary for all other bodily systems to function well. Composed of three herbs, it is extremely high in Vitamin C and is balancing for all constitutional types. Triphala is unique in scraping old toxins out of the intestinal tract so that nutrients can be properly absorbed and waste can be regularly eliminated. It cleanses the liver and the blood and benefits the eyes as well. There is a saying in India that goes something like this - "No mother? Do not worry if you have triphala." Triphala provides such a breadth of nourishment, while cleansing toxins from the body, that it has earned this profound comparison. It's best to take Triphala one hour before bed so that its cleansing action can occur while there is no new food being eaten.
After sticking with this list of easy Ayurvedic New Year's Resolutions for even just a few weeks, you will notice such incredible improvements in your overall health that you won't have to worry about falling off the wagon. A new sense of well-being comes from making these small but profoundly effective changes. Making lasting improvements in our daily routine does require some discipline, but when the benefits become obvious so easily, it requires little effort to make them seem just like normal.
How do I prepare congee?
Congee is easily prepared overnight in a crock pot. If you do not have a crock pot, it can be simmered on the stove over very low heat. It is important to use clay, enamel, glass or stainless steel for cooking. Do not use aluminum or iron pots, as chemicals from these pots can leach into your food.
Suggested cooking ingredients for 1 serving:
1 part grain (1/4 cup)
5 parts water (1 ¼ cup)
Combine in crock pot and cook on low overnight (8 hours). You should adjust the proportions of grain to water until you get the consistency of congee that satisfies you the most. Increase serving size as desired. For added flavor, you can add your favorite appropriate spices (see suggestions below). Your health care practitioner may suggest specific flavorings or added nuts, fruits, vegetables or herbs that would be most beneficial to you.
Suggested congee grain combinations:
To reduce excess water weight, try brown rice/barley, cinnamon, and ginger. To strengthen the adrenals and warm digestion, combine millet/buckwheat/rye, allspice, and cinnamon.
GRAINS: rice, millet, barley, rye, oat groats, spelt, quinoa, amaranth, wheat berries
SPICES: cinnamon, bay leaf, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, cloves
NUTS/FRUITS: jujube, lyceum berries, walnuts, dried cherries, almonds, pumpkin seeds
VEGGIES: sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, squash
FLAVORINGS: molasses, honey, maple syrup, rice milk