For a healthier, happier you


Seasons change, times change and so do we. We grow older, perhaps wiser! The thing is not to get stuck and set in old ways that don’t improve our health and ­wellbeing. I read in the book Wrist Assured on the great cricketer G Vishwanath that one word from his brother-in-law Sunil Gavaskar made him quit drinking. That’s the way to go. Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs are no friends of our body. Get rid of them and we make friends with a good life. Without any substance fogging your body and mind, you actually taste the goodness of food, see things around you more clearly, smell subtle scents and, overall, after the withdrawal phase, you will appreciate all that you are, and… it’s great to be alive.

Healing is not something you have to ‘make happen.’ It is a natural, ongoing process. If you accidentally cut your finger, it starts to heal immediately. One little cut and your healing mechanism intensifies. This knowledge and perspective helps. The question is: what activities or habits can I shed, start or tweak to make myself healthier and happier?


Eat when hungry

In the past year, I’d started having lunch at noon and dinner at 6pm — earlier by an hour or two. It felt good. Recently, I suddenly felt hungry at 5pm. ­Pondering whether I should have a biscuit, it suddenly struck me: why not have an earlier dinner? And the feeling of fulfillment after the meal was something special. I still have two meals a day except, now, there’s a rider to them — eat when you’re hungry.

Healer Preetha tells us, “The body is not an eating machine. Eat only when your digestive fire asks for food, not when your tongue demands it, and eat right.” Apparently, we have live mechanisms called immune globulins. “They are antibodies that fight diseases and they are all protein. So, the right amount of protein in the diet enhances immunity,” she explains.


Use your golden energy hours for yourself

Some of us are at our most energetic at 3am., some at 7am, some between 4–6pm, some are night owls. Identify your best energy-hours. Don’t misuse them by checking your Whatsapp messages, completing chores or watching a movie. These are your golden hours when your physical and mental faculties are at their peak. Use them for something you feel passionate about — craft, art, volunteer work.

Speaking of volunteer work, I’m struck by Ranjit Yadav, a ­sub-inspector in Ayodhya. Every morning he rises early, puts on his uniform and off he goes to his own street school informally called Apna School, and from 7–9am, teaches 60 underprivileged children to read and write Hindi and English. This teacher-in-uniform, as he is affectionately called, teaches Mathematics too. Their school premises are under the welcoming branches of a tree — shades of ancient India.

Doing something you’re truly passionate about is a great healing pick-me-up. Here are 16 broad categories which may point you to your passion: Learning, teaching, creative pursuits, personal enhancement, contemplation, helping others, self-cleansing body, mind, spirit, problem solving, health and fitness, career growth, managing finance, children, animals and birds, environment, and de-cluttering.

It’s all about disentangling ourselves from the unsatisfactory and mildly ­irritating issues to move forward in a more focused way towards what matters most. A healthy passion sets a healthy pattern.


Forget everything while exercising

One student told me, “I have an appointment at 12.30, so shall I just cycle today?” We normally finish our session at 1pm. “No,” I said intuitively. “We’ll do all the other exercises first and cycle last.”

“Okay,” she said. I don’t know how it happened. Maybe the urgency made our movements swifter. But we did the entire session including 40 minutes of cycling in record time. My student was energised and laughing. “It is the best exercise class I’ve ever had,” she exclaimed. And I realised it was not only because we’d exercised at a faster pace but because she didn’t talk while exercising, and didn’t look at her cellphone and say apologetically, “I have to take this call.” She forgot everything except exercising. Do exactly that and see how your sessions sparkle, how your body tingles, and how your mind comes alive. Tip: Even in your non- exercising hours, do some fun lunges as you wait for the milk to boil; get up from your work desk and do some jumping jacks. Try a wall sit-and-stand. Bring new life to your lifestyle.


The just-enough rule

I was taken aback to read an article which laid out how many hours of sleep, how much fibre, how many minutes to read and so on. It was all about numbers. What stunned me was a nutritionist advising people to have 4–5 bowls of dal per meal to get in the right amount of protein. That is a lot of protein — it can give a gripping pain below your belly button and bloat your stomach! It’s better to follow the just-enough rule for almost anything:


*             Sleep: If your emotions are controlled, your mood, grasping ability, memory and attention span are good, it means you are getting quality night sleep. Tip: 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra meditation is a lovely way to fall asleep. It keeps the mind from planning, worrying, calculating and lulls it into sleep. I know of a woman who falls asleep to nursery rhymes. Choose what suits you.

*             Sun: It’s healing to get 10–20 minutes of sunlight daily — all the little niggles, aches, discomforts, fatigue, depressive thoughts dissolve in its warmth. Sunlight kills bad bacteria and that’s a great health booster.

*             Fibre: A medium bowl of oats in milk with a pinch of salt once a day is a super way to feel full. It also makes for good elimination the next morning. Fibre binds fat and sugar and doesn’t allow the body to absorb their calories; it’s good news for those with diabetes and those who want to lose weight. Carrots, beetroots and ladies finger are super fibre foods and should be taken regularly. Fibre reduces risk of cancer.

*             Sounds: There’s something healing about nature’s sounds. Spend time at the seashore, amidst mountains, next to a running stream or a fountain. Listen until you feel as if even your bones have given up all their tension and you’ve moved physically, mentally, emotionally from stress to rest and to your own immensely pleasing wellness zone.

*             Backache/headache: If you wake up to a backache, try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees. And if you wake up with a headache, it could be due to sleeping in a huddled position. Sleep with shoulders squared. Never go back to sleep once you’re awake. Both aches vanish when you stand up and walk around for a minute.

Prune both your burdens and expectations, and a new life with more meaning, space and clarity will unfold. Keep learning and fine-tuning your thoughts and ways, and you’ll always come up smiling. Then generously share all that you’ve learnt and see how other people’s minds and lives light up too.

The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.


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