Yoga + Ayurveda = Robust Good Health in 2015

Happy New Year! Here we are again, January, a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. After all the holiday feasting, January arrives like a lovely winter stay-cation. For me it is a time to truly slow down, reflect, and to go within. It is also a time to renew and re-enliven my commitment to my good health! One way this happens for me is through yoga and her sister science, ayurveda.

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning the “the science of life”  and is a system of natural health care that like yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago. An ayurvedic lifestyle balances body, spirit, and mind through nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle practices fostering stronger digestion, deeper sleep, and more robust health in general. By including a few basic ayurvedic practices into your daily routine, you can begin to make changes toward a more vital, more aware life.

The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” meaning “to join, unite, or yoke together.” By regularly including three fundamental aspects of yoga: exercise/movement (asana), breathing (pranayama), and meditation into your life you can enjoy a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable body.

Making yoga and ayurveda a regular part of your daily/weekly routine now will have direct and lasting healthful effects for the rest of your life. The best wisdom for this beginning or recommitment is simple — begin where you are now. Don’t try to begin where you wish you were, or where your friend is at. Take responsibility for your health and just start where you are. Take a weekly Beginners or Chair yoga class or starting a ten minute a day home practice, begin by picking three of the ayurvedic practices below and bringing them into the fold of your day to day.

In the beginning, it takes attention and commitment to make a new practice part of your daily life. However, as you feel better and better about the results, your priorities will naturally adjust to make space for it. Whether you’re choosing to add three morning asanas to start the day, ten minutes of breathing exercises after work, or eating regular home-cooked meals, once you have established your routine, it becomes a part of who you are and how you live!

Getting Started

Yoga: Start small, set moderate, realistic goals for yourself. One class a week (until June) or 10 minutes daily home practice (choose a regular time to practice each day) will be enough to experience benefits! It’s the quality of the time, not the quantity. If you miss a class or practice don’t be hard on yourself or give up altogether. Take a breath, recommit, and get back in the groove again. You may need extra support at first; set up a yoga buddy or teacher you can check in or practice with.

Ayurveda: Here are a range of great places to start including ayurveda in your life. Choose any 3-5 of these practices and commit to incorporating them into your daily routine for three months.

• Wake before dawn.

• Tongue scraping — Upon waking, gently scrape the tongue from the back forward, until you have scraped the whole surface for 7-14 strokes. This stimulates the internal organs, helps digestion, and removes dead bacteria.

• Drink a cup of warm water with a squeeze of lemon or lime first thing in the morning.

• Eliminate in the a.m. — try to sit on the toilet at around the same time each morning, this will help train the bowels.

• Yoga Asana — pick 3-5 that you enjoy, practice them 3-5 days a week.

• Pranayama — a simple 1:1 breathing exercise; inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four for 5 minutes a day.

• Lunch — try making lunch your main meal of the day without TV or computer.  Favor warm, cooked, and nourishing foods in the winter months. It is also best to sit while eating, eat mindfully, chew slowly (digestion begins in the mouth), enjoy light conversation or silence, sit for 5-10 minutes after eating, and enjoy a light walk afterwards.

• Supper — try eating before 6 p.m. and make supper, which comes from the word sup as in supplemental, a lighter meal followed by a little walk.

• Favor light reading, social activities, recreation in the evening and try to be off the computer by 7:30 p.m.

• Early to bed — try to be in bed, winding down by 9:30-10:00 p.m.

There are endless possibilities to growing more health and wholeness in your life. Yoga and ayurveda can help, and now is a beautiful place to begin! Here’s to your robust health in body and mind this year!

Tracy Chipman is a yoga instructor and Ayurveda Yoga Specialist based in Menomonie. Currently she teaches weekly drop-in classes at The CORE Menomonie, a {Going Within} winter yoga series, and offers Ayurveda Yoga Specialist consultations by appointment. For more information visit http://tlcyoga.weebly.com/

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