We’d love to share with you six pillars of health that date back thousands of years and come from the world of Ayurveda known as the medicine of yoga.
The Six Pillars are meant to be incorporated into your daily life to help you stay healthy, vibrant, and maintain your independence. After all, this is the time of life to travel, play with grandkids, volunteer in your community, and enjoy quality time with family and friends.
The human body/mind has some pretty basic requirements to maintain energy, proper elimination, and stress resiliency. These practices are simple and easy and will support you to feel great!
1. Conscious Eating
Eating healthy and well is simpler than you think. Choose to eat quality fresh food that is seasonal and local. Before digging into the bounty on your plate, bless your food. Express gratitude for everything you are about to enjoy.
Eat slowly and without distractions so that you can experience the flavors and textures.
After your meal, your stomach should feel light and comfortable. If you feel lethargic, irritable, or have stomach upset after your meal, then this is your body’s way of sending you a clear message that the food you ate was not right for you. Notice and be honest about how it made you feel, and consider avoiding this food in the future. When we eat certain foods that our body does not like, they can cause inflammatory responses in our bodies, leading to long-term disease.
2. Right Exercise
Keep moving. A healthy amount of exercise promotes the body’s natural cleansing processes. Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers) and reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Use the phrase “motion is lotion” as a reminder to move daily.
But is any movement ok? No, not exactly. You should choose exercises appropriate for your body and fitness level and do not cause you pain. Right exercise should give you an energy boost. Great options are Tai Chi, walking, dancing, SomaYoga, and swimming.
3. Sleeping Well
Preparing for sleep is as important as the sleep itself. Build a consistent bedtime routine that nurtures your nervous system and allows you to slow down. Avoid screens and digital devices an hour before bed. Explore a gentle movement and breathing practice to downgrade from your day. One of our favorites is 3-3-3 Alternate Nostril Breathing because it balances the sympathetic and parasympathetiic nervous system so well that you may even find yourself drifting off without thinking about it.
Go to bed and wake up at a consistent time. Ayurveda recommends sleeping by 10 pm and waking at 6 am to closely follow your body’s natural sleep rhythms.
More on getting the best sleep:
- 10 Tips for a Better Night's Sleep
- What are the Best Sleeping Positions for Older Adults?
- 5 Benefits of a Full Night's Sleep for Older Adults
4. Breathing & Stress Management
Stress resilience means the body can shift into a parasympathetic state, easily allowing the many systems of your body to replenish, restore, and cleanse as needed.
One of the easiest ways to nourish this process is through mindful breathing.
We recommend taking a conscious breathing break several times a day. Find a comfy seat, close your eyes, and start to pay attention to your breath. Begin to balance the length of your inhale with the length of your exhale. Try three counts in and three counts out. As you begin to pay attention, notice your breath lengthening to four counts in and four counts out.
Direct the breath into your lower belly instead of your chest. This engages the diaphragm well and gives the upper chest muscles a break. Follow along with breath awareness practice on our website.
As you sit quietly, sense and feel the calmness that settles into your nervous system. You will love how great you feel afterward.
We also recommend trying one of the SomaYoga for Stress Relief classes, the 61 Point Practice, or other nervous nourishing practices on the Digital on Demand Channel.
Click here to learn more about the connection of good breathing to health!
5. Cleansing and Nourishing Practices
In Ayurveda, the health of the digestive system is directly correlated with the health of the individual. What we take in is as important as what we let out. Elimination daily is key.
We recommend drinking a large glass of warm water upon waking to stimulate your bowel movement in the morning. You can also squeeze juice from half a fresh lemon into warm water and drink this to get your bowels primed and active.
Dry Skin brushing and oiling is an amazing practice to calm the nervous system. The skin is our biggest organ, and this practice eliminates toxins from the system.
Your body needs you to be tuned in. Your health depends on it. Sense and feel what your body needs on a given day and time. It is constantly telling you.
A great way to cultivate this skill of listening, and what is known as Interoception, is to practice getting quiet and attuning back in with yourself. Some use meditation or a mindfulness guided meditation to cultivate these skills.
Maintaining good health is about making choices based on what you sense and feel in your body.
About the Author: Carrie and Nicole are certified IAYT SomaYoga Therapists and Somatics Educators who have specialized in working with clients in pain for well over 10 years. Their mission is to teach you revolutionary techniques to tap into your body’s innate intelligence and its ability to heal.
You could also call them “pain geeks” because they are extremely passionate and inquisitive about all things related to what causes people pain. To understand the true mind-body connection and to reset the nervous system in powerful and simple ways.
They specialize in skillfully combining the tools of Somatics, SomaYoga, Anatomy, Functional Movement Training, Mind Study and Yogic Philosophy to bring about more joy and freedom in the lives of those they work with. They teach to professionals and individuals sharing their Method.