I took a long 3 month break not from my yoga routine but from my diet. Reason being the nutritional imbalance which totally took a toll on my skin. I had to take medication that doesn’t work with my kind of yogic diet.
Skin, the largest organ of the body is also one of the prime indicators of health or ill-health. I developed severe and painful acne, a dermatological distress and horrendous nightmare for every girl. I also wondered when I was diagnosed with a cyst in the right ovary which was about 5 cm, of course heavy enough for the tiny little organ. But through all this , I remained fit and in perfect shape.
Like I always say, Health and fitness are different , here I am a standing prototype of my own saying! Face is the index of mind said anonymous hence the mind uses a catalyst to express its emotions through face and most predominantly the skin.
How could this happen to a yoga practitioner?
Well, is there a doctor free from disease? Come on! it’s human body, it acts like “as you sow , so you reap” . None is an exemption! Any body can be vulnerable to disease! If you are not taking diet like the fact speaks” Your health is 70% diet and 30% workout”. We are not Gods! I have seen many yoga teachers and gym instructors develop sprain issues, bone depletions, thyroid problems and even in few cases cancer. Yoga or the cardiovascular stuff you all do at the gym does not define your health, it is way beyond that.
Yoga is not a solitary concept. It only works in harmony with breath, proper lifestyle and most vitally diet for health. Many people approached me saying “I do 25 Suryanamaskaras a day, I still have a large belly hanging out like jelly!” , “ I have totally cut down on my rice intake, why am I still this heavy?” , “ I leaned on vegan recipes but I don’t see that glow in my skin or loose those few extra pounds on my curves, why?” Women are so beauty conscious right?
Dear women, trust me you will remain as beautiful as your minds are! Just shift the worlds focus on women from being that paradigm of beauty consciousness to health consciousness. I did and so I said, “Being fit doesn’t mean you are healthy but being healthy means you are fit”.
Moving on to overcoming the torment. I developed severe acne due to stress levels, climatic changes(as I shifted to a different country) , hormonal imbalances ( quite common with every woman) , disturbed sleep ( thank God not as bad as insomnia) and all this boils down to nutrition or the best way I call it “THE FOOD”? Wonder it was! I pondered over it for days and months to diagnose , read , learn , experiment with my body and today I would like to share it with the world, the story of my failure and of my success with the failure.
First time I was diagnosed with the ovarian cyst, I was shattered! ‘Of all those unhealthy people with unhealthy eating habits, why me?’, I thought. Again the same reasons went in and as the doctor asked if I used any contraceptives , my mind was boggled and I was furiously saying “Never ever in my life, not even a prophylactic for periods. I am a yoga practitioner, I have a routine, blabbering all about me.
She cut my furious verbosity by simply asking, “Are you stressed at work?” , after a moment of pause I said , “Yes” .
“Do you have disturbed sleep pattern over at least 2 months?”
In exclamation of what has this got to do with the cyst , I said “Yes”
“Do you take meals with large gap at least once in a day?”
“Yes, post lunch , I wait till dinner these days due to work load”
It was Ramzan time and I quickly asked “ They stay whole day without food and water! How are they healthy?”
She pointed a booklet and asked me to pick it up as I go, which gave me insights into how the fasting has to be done, surprisingly when I delved into the nutrition and dietetics of Ayurveda, it was the same diet which the book said Prophet Mohammad prescribed during fasting.
Further she asked, “ How is your intake of water?”
“These days, the quantity of intake dwindled” (Of course it was due to hectic timelines and improper time management, I thought)
What kind of food do you take?
“I said I eat vegetarian”
Similarly, I went to a dermatologist
“Do you wash your face often?”
“Do you have dandruff?”
“Do you eat junk?”
“Do you eat curd or ghee?”
After the exhausting Q&A with each, after the blood tests and after all the other diagnosis, I was told the reason and I analysed all what went into my lifestyle despite being a yoga practitioner- nutritional imbalance.
The lifestyle and quality of food that we get today are almost promoting our problems to a next level.
So I started reading more on nutrition and dietetics even in Ayurveda.
Here are few of my learnings for you to refer to when in need for adopting a healthy lifestyle.
1. Nutrition for health:.
According to ayurveda, food is not categorised into Proteins , Carbs and Fats. It is categorised into Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
The food we eat manifests in the thoughts of our mind, consequently the actions, is the belief of Ayurveda. Food manifests in 3 forms:
Gross, subtle and subtlest forms. For instance , the gross form of Ghee that is taken in forms the strength for bones, the subtle form is the lining for trachea, easing digestion and the unknown form , the subtlest is that it helps get you a sweet voice. Incredible isn’t it! The Satvik food is easily digestible, mostly fibre rich. This keeps the mind active in turn keeping your body active. Example are the greens and fibre rich seeds and pulses.
The Rajasic food is hard to digest and is said to induce lethargy. For example the animal based food and food products .
The Tamasic food is said to have completely put your neural activity to sleep thereby affecting your physical body. For example alcohol and aerated or carbonated drinks.
However, this is for the yogic diet and for those who want to pursue a spiritual lifestyle. But there is something that I missed following this. Lifestyle differences. I am a working woman , the stress levels vary, keeping the physical strength up is pivotal. Here I do need to take in protein and lean meat to cope with my lifestyle. This is what I majorly missed. Going vegan doest help if you do not take the necessary supplements(check with any nutritionist for this matter) .Even Charaka samhita and Shustruta samhita mentions that a women can take lean meat when in need mostly for the strength of ovaries.
Changing your diet works only as you change your lifestyle . Ayurveda says “Eat what suits your DNA”. That is the food that nourished you as babies when you were in your mother’s womb. An instant change to vegan or vegetarian doesn’t support your system . Guys! please don’t give a culture shock to your body! 😀 Make a gradual change, observe the way food reacts to your system, if it works well and good, if it doesn’t see what could you have done better. Let me tell you no nutritionist or Ayurvedic ace could write in paper and give what suits your body the best. “Listen to your body to a certain extent ” and then decide if the diet goes well with you.
Like Buddha says “You are what you eat”.
This works wonders! Today mothers are feeding kids by showing them television to distract them from saying no to food. Really, a bad way of parenting! I have seen a kid grow without knowing the taste of the food item. The kid just gulps it down the gullet and says done. What is the point of eating loads of food / mothers feeding loads by watching TV when it is not working on your body the way it has to? It leads to obesity.
Eating food with hatred towards it doesn’t at all work with your body. “I hate grilled chicken but I have to eat it because my nutritionist asked me to”. Please save your self from this kind of routine. I have seen people struggling to gulp in those chia seeds in that almond milk, the purely vegan one…please have love for what you eat and only then it works on your system.
Be grateful for every morsel of food that you take in. Thank it for nourishing your bodies. Eat to feed your soul not your body. Eating this way would certainly result in a sound mind. A good chef can taste the food and say what ingredients went into it, how does he do that? His senses are tamed into loving every ingredient that he takes in. He does the mindful eating and so does he mindfully cook for deliciousness.
3. Eat with the clock
My readings on nutrition and dietetics has suggested that diet has to be balanced and has to be taken at right intervals and in right quantities. Understand that sunlight is the key to photosynthesis in plants and metabolism in humans. Finishing your dinner early in the day helps reduce half of your tummy fat! Eat on time , make your 3 meals 6 to achieve six sigma health. This doesn’t mean tonnes of 6 meals , it means right quantities and rightly cooked.
4. Home made with love:
Do you know that the food and water we take carries energy? Yes it does! How do I know? Mindful cooking and eating. Imagine cooking in a rush, that energy carries in the way you cook, may be it leads to extra spice or salt. This energy is carried , it manifests in the one who eats it.
Plants have life and so do human beings. Cook and eat good energy. Prefer home made food with love as key ingredient. Health follows.
The cookware that we are using these days is also a major cause of diseases. I switched to using cast iron, stainless steel , porcelain and wood depending on the dish that is prepared. It is the Indian ancient way of using cookware, why don’t we follow it? Let’s take this small step towards better health. Cut off the non-stick cookware, it is the major cause of revenue to the corporate hospitals 😛
Hey who has time to cook food with love and smile? Who can wake up early daily to sit for 10 minutes and meditate? I don’t have time for yoga and gym. Are you crazy? I have no time for these stories! There you lost! Self- discipline is the key to time management. Everyone is blessed with the same 24 hours and how you manage it is in your hands. I journal my actions in a day and I do journal my plans for every next day. This keeps you work with time in a stress-less manner. If I can’t do all what I planned , I end up doing at least a 3 out of 10 things planned. This works! Yoga is also a discipline. Like I always say “’Not a day to be missed’ is how you need to exercise your mind because the body does what the mind says”.
If you set your mind to eating healthy, eating and sleeping on time , have a lifestyle , that’s what makes you different from others. If you want to see the change in others who are disturbing your routine be it kids or partner or whoever it is! Show them the strength of your self-discipline. Gandhi ji says “ Be the change you want to see in others”
Yogasanas are a best way to de-tox . How? “Sweat it out!” Through the largest organ in our body , skin. The best way to healthy glowing skin in not a facial at a beauty parlour , its de-tox through work out. This doesn’t mean stop going to the parlour. It is necessary for topical care of your skin. But the internal cleansing happens only through diet and yoga.
It really interested me and I took a while to get certified in this. This is healing! An ancient Indian craft which is now most widely used only outside India , unfortunately. I wish Indians too embrace our ancient methodologies more for well-being . Vitalise the senses through these aroma oils , using them in our daily used products like soaps, lip balms , moisturisers etc. heals.
9. Breath in positivity:
Yoga works with breath. Taking your attention to each and every body part while you work out, heals! Truly heals! Eat good thoughts, because they are food for mind. Cut out the negativity if it comes in the form of people or situations or thoughts. I understand it is not as easy as it is said, you may be encountering a negative person all through the day and it is really a kind of gruelling circumstance, you can’t cut off, then, accept the pain is a part of reality. Robin Sharma says “Pain is the best teacher” Learn and grow through what you go through. Sometimes you may prefer to avoid the situation, that doesn’t mean you are a quitter, it just means you prefer your peace over the situation. If you can’t avoid, just ignore, control your mind on to not listening to the abuses or the direct negative energy that is coming your way. It is absolutely ok to avoid people, cut off them like just nothing after all the good and bad you went through, after all self love is the best love. Give some time for the other person and even yourself because “Time heals”. We being bothered about what others think of us is the greatest misery that our generation is going through today. Just don’t care! I am being candid . I know, but it helps. This doesn’t mean do whatever you wish and not care, this means do whatever is rightful and don’t care . Like “Karmanyevadhikarasthe Maphaleshu Kadachana Makarmaphalahetrubhu Maathesangotsvakarmani” (Do what has to be done but dont expect the result ) in this case don’t care for the result . Accept pain and understand that failures and pain are the reason why success and happiness taste sweet.Mental health lies in channelising your energy by letting it remain in your circle of positivity is the key and that can be achieved only through breath. Just giving 10 minutes of your entire day of 12 hours isn’t a big deal right? Give those 10 minutes for well being , for meditation. After all , what are we working for ? Peace and good health. Never give up on these two. Keep up the levels of your happiness by appreciating the good work done by others, hugging the dear ones, helping the ones in need, being grateful for one or more best things that happen in your day, talking to your parents in a happy tone, helping your grandparents in their chores, never forget your hobbies in the busy life, have time for them – drawing, painting, music, dance , yoga. Simple things! Life lies in them.
Yes, Yoga can fail giving the results if not done with incorporating a healthy lifestyle and diet. I failed to restrain the disease but I did try changing my lifestyle for better and I got rid of the ovarian cyst within a month. Incredible isn’t it! The same for me too… 🙂 This is my success story. We cannot cure all the diseases without pain but we can prevent many diseases by taking a little pain to change our lifestyle. Also to the human race which is struggling to establish beauty in form of grooming industries….Beauty or health? Prefer health. Beauty is just a perk for health.
– Nishanthi Yoga(Instagram)