It seems we have always been told that if we want to be healthy, we should start the day with a big breakfast, drink 8 glasses of water, avoid eating fats, sleep longer on weekends and do vigorous exercise every day, without fail!
However, Ayurveda has a rather different approach. It suggests exercising only when we do not have PMS or pain, eat a light breakfast, eat certain fats, drink when we are thirsty, and not to sleep in on weekends.
All those pieces of advice, information, and different approaches can easily make us confused, and we are left unaware what is healthy and how to behave in life.
Yet, Ayurveda has stood the test of time, and this ancient medical wisdom exists for over five millennia, but it has long been banned by the British colonists.
It is a four-dimensional approach that involves the mind, body, soul, and senses, and supports health at all levels.
One of the authors of the Ayurveda texts from ancient times, Rishi Sushrut, is considered to be the grandfather of modern surgery, even in western medicine.
Svastha means health, and Svasthvritta is a term that covers the behavior, actions, and habits that promote overall health, and represents a sub-branch of Ayurveda, that teaches us the healthy habits that will provide general wellbeing.
Here are five habits that you considered healthy, but are in fact the opposite:
1. Start the day with a big breakfast
Ayurveda’s suggested daily routine (known as Dinacharya) tells us that we should have lighter meals at breakfast and dinner and that lunch should be the biggest meal. This is because Ayurveda follows the natural circadian rhythm, believing that we should follow the course of the sun, being solar powered beings, in our everyday routines in order to be naturally healthy.
In Ayurveda, the state of our digestion is considered a reflection of overall health. Accordingly, since our greatest capacity for digestion is around noon when the sun is fully risen, that’s the time we should have our biggest meal. After having eaten heavier breakfasts and dinners all my life, my digestion and overall health have definitely improved after making my biggest meal lunch.
2. Do vigorous exercise every day, without fail
According to Ayurveda, everyone needs to choose his own, individual, kind of exercise, intensity, the frequency of exercising, etc. Moreover, it believes that women should not exercise when they have their menstrual period, and all people should avoid workout when they are injured or tired.
It also teaches us to do vigorous exercise when we are physically stronger, like in spring and winter months, and a gentler exercise routine in summer and early fall.
3. Drink 8 glasses of water daily
According to Ayurveda, we should drink water (and any other liquids actually) only when we feel thirsty. When we drink more than our body needs, this excess water intake can, in fact, lead to problems with digestion, skin, obesity and other health issues. So, if your body signals thirst, drink 8 glasses, but if it doesn’t, then drink as much as you feel the need to.
4. Sleep longer on weekends
Somehow there exists this idea that we can miss out on sleep during the work week and then make up for it on weekends by sleeping in. However, Ayurveda tells us that following good sleep habits every day, is considered one of the three fundamental pillars of health. You will be surprised at the difference it makes when you go to bed at 10.30 every night at the latest and get up at 6 every morning at the latest.
5. Avoid eating fats
In a society where an unprecedented number of people are obese, it seems only normal to want to avoid eating fats altogether, although both Ayurveda and western medicine tell us that everybody needs fat, as long as it is the healthy kind of fat. So, no matter how fat you are, it is recommended that you do have a healthy fat intake from sources such as nuts, avocados, coconut and mustard oils, and ghee (fat from clarified butter).
However, Ayurveda teaches us that fats are beneficial only to the extent that you are able to digest them, so those who are obese should have a fairly small amount of fat, ideally ghee, in their diets to be good for them.