The basics of Ayurveda teach us about a healthy routine so as to remain fit physically and mentally. Below are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves to keep our lifestyle hale, hearty and healthy.Dr. Sharmad Khan throws more light on this.
How should we start our day?
What are the healthy daily routines?
What are the benefits of that routine ?
Should it be followed by all or contra-indicated to some?
Waking up at ‘brahma muhurta’
Ayurveda says that one should wake up one-and-a-half-hours before sunrise as this is known as the brahma muhurta. This is a very important time since there is an increase in nocturnal regimen during this period.This nocturnal regimen is known to disrupt the biological rhythm of the body and so only those who sleep early in the night can wake up in the brahmamuhurta. Studies have revealed it as the best time to learn new things and to sharpen the intellectual ability. It is alsoregarded as the apt time to start one’s day as it helps to prevent disease and thereby improving our immunity. If you feel refreshed when you get up in the brahma muhurta, it means you have got enough sleep. Otherwise,you will tend to feel tired and lethargic. This means you should sleep for some ten more minutes.
Brushing teeth after wake-up
After eliminating the natural urgesafter wake-up in the morningone should thoroughly brush the teeth,says Ayurveda. Toothpaste or tooth powders are advised for this purpose. Ayurveda advises to avoid the use of gel pastes or anti-sensitive paste unless prescribed by an expert.If the tooth paste used is very sweet it will support the growth of infective bacteria. Ayurveda insists on using toothpastes that have astringent, spicy and bitter tastes. The best drugs to be used as tooth powder should be from the Indian Banyan(Ficusbengalensis), Cutch Tree(Acacia catechu), Indian Beach Tree(Pongamiapinnata), ArjunTree(Terminaliaarjuna), Neem(Azadirachtaindica) etc.Individual care should be given to each tooth while brushing. Brush bristles should be of soft type. Hard bristled toothbrushes and even medium type ones should be avoided as it can harm the gums. After brushing, fingers should be used to massage the gums so as to increase blood supply to it. After use, the brush must be washed thoroughly and kept in a clean ventilated place rather than the washrooms.It is advised not to brush the teeth just before and after having food. Also, brushing the teethusing cold water just after having hot food can break the teeth. Care must be taken to drink sour drinks or sour fruit juices only with straw to avoid any direct contact with the teeth. Teeth should be brushed twice daily, in the morning and half an hour after having dinner. After brushing, tongue should be cleaned without harming it. Nevertry to wipe off the foodfrom the tongue.
Cleaning the nostrils
Nostrils and associated areas should be cleaned after brushing by applying three or four drops of Sesame oil.This should be practised daily to prevent the ailments related to the nose and sinuses. Studies have proved that this activity can improve the brain function. After nasya, mouth should be washed with warm water. If a little Sesame oil is added to the water used for this purpose, it can tighten and give strength to the gums and teeth and prevent the diseases of gum and teeth.
Oil on head, foot and ears
Oil application is very important in delaying the aging process. It can improve the health of the skin, hair and scalp and thus make them supple. It can also improve the quality of sleep and provide energy and endurance. Ayurveda insists on the daily application of oil on the head, foot and ears. Oil application on the head can improve the sleep, vision and prevent hair fall. By applying oil into the ear, it can prevent the diseases related to it and improve the hearing capacity. It can also improve the sensitivity to the peripheral nerves. But, oil application should be avoided in certain conditions as per an expert’s opinion.
Yoga or excercise
Calm, clean, cool place should be chosen for daily exercise. The selection of place is important as it influencesthe body and mind. Ayurveda advises to exercise till sweat appears on the forehead and nose tip. Also, it says to use atleast half portion of one’s strength for doing exercise. Only, physically and mentally healthy persons should exercise daily.In case of the diseased, yoga practices can be doneas peran expert’s advice. Techies or people working indoors should exercise in the morning or evening such that they receive the revitalising effect of the sunlight.This will help to avoid diseases caused due to the lack of sunlight.Ayurveda advises excercises either with or without an oil massage.
Have a Healthy Bath
How many of us are aware that a bath in the morning isnecessary for a good appetite?The most important thing to keep in mind is to never have a bathimmediately after food. It’s healthy to have a bath only after the sweat out of the exercise have subsided naturally.Bathing refreshes our body and removes the drowsiness and lethargy. It energizes the mind and improves concentration, meditation and studies etc. Morning bath also helps in strenghtheningthe body and increasing the appetite.Hot water bath is healthy only for the body and not advisable for the head. Using hot water for the head can cause hair fall, vision problems, premature greying etc. Use only skin- friendly soap during bath. Different soaps should be used for different persons with different skin types.Even the members of the same family should use separate soap and towel to avoid contagious diseases.Take care to wash off the foam completely during bathing. Also, excess use of soap can cause different skin diseases.
Have a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important food for the body irrespective of class or age. A healthy breakfast helps us to be active for the whole day. It should be easily digesteableand is beneficial to the body if eaten only after the hunger pangs.A bath in the early morning without any snacks or tea or coffee just after brushing is enough to have a good appetite that can keep us alive for the whole day. Also, tea or coffee should be avoided as the first foods of the day; if needed,it can be had with breakfast. Diet for breakfast should be selected in accordance with the climate or land forms and the quantity should be fixed according to the age also. Continuous use of non-vegetarian food is not advisable. Excess use of sour, hot,salty,spicy, cold or hot food, deep- fried foods, pickles, foods with added preservatives and artificial flavours is not at all good for health.Locally available ripe fruits must be consumed. One’s diet should be diverse in nature to include all types of available foods for the adequate supply of the needed vitamins and minerals.
Drink enough water
The adequate intake of water is also very important.The quantity of water one should drink depends on the factors like body nature, nature of work, type of food like easily digesting, dry or slimy etc. It is a wrong perception that one should drink water only when one is thirsty. Aerated drinks and soft drinks etc must be avoided at all costs. A little quantity of water is sufficient to be drunk along with food in order to aid the digestive process. Otherwise it is adviseable to drink around 100ml water or three cheek- full at a time. But one should obey the advice from an expert regarding the quantity of water, if one is suffering from any disease.
What and How to eat Dinner
Now-a-days it is seen that people prefer dinner as the most important food. Sometimes this maybe very heavy too.Moreover, people tend to eat the most unsuitable foods during dinner and these maybe very difficult to digest too. This is a very unhealthy practice as we donot require much energy while sleeping. This, thus will overload the digestive system storing unwanted fat in the body. We should thus eat the most easily- digestible food with very little quantity as dinner. Also, dinner should be had one-and-a-half hour before going to bed.
Sleep or Nidra
People who work hard and don’t have anxiety sleep well everyday. If required one can take a short nap for 10 to 20 minutes during the day by just relaxing in a sitting posture. If this exceeds beyond 20 minutes it will disturb the sound sleep at night.Also, if we are confident in the matters we have done during the day, we can sleep peacefully in the night with a calm mind. Staying awake even in the midnight can lead to many prevailing non-communicable diseases.We all know that we have a biological clock and we should take utmost care not to disturb it. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can make one stay healthythrought.
Senior Medical Officer
Dept of Indian systems of medicine