Today is India’s 75th Independence Day, and it’s that time of the year our hearts swell with pride. Achieving freedom from the British was no mean task and let us take a moment to remember those brave souls, visionaries, and leaders who sacrificed their lives for the prosperity and liberation of our nation.
Even as we celebrate 75 years of free India, lest we forget those priceless contributions Bharat shared generously for the well-being of everyone, irrespective of the countries, continents, and ethnicities.
Whether physical, mental, or emotional, India always has a way of dealing with health. Some may call it conventional; some may term it non-scientific, but there is no denying that we Indians have been sharing exceptional and time-tested knowledge and wisdom, with rest of the world and are ever evolving in medicine.
If you read media reports that researchers in the western countries discovered the antimicrobial properties of turmeric, agreed that regulated breathing brings down stress instantly, desi ghee doesn’t contribute to weight gain, and groundnut oil offers zero cholesterol – smirk with pride! After all, we schooled it!
We knew it! Didn’t we? We did, for many centuries and countless generations. In the last decade, we Indians started unlearning ‘modern techniques’ and welcomed traditional practices back into our homes – this time with all the gratitude!
We are on the road to more incredible medical advancements, and even as we do that, here’s the list of five impressive healthy practices India has always been teaching and sharing with the rest of the world.
5 Amazing Health Care Practices To Learn From India
Yoga, the ancient practice that originated in our country sometime around the Vedic period is a treasure trove of incredible secrets and a true blessing to humankind. It is a consummation of physical, mental and emotional well-being for attaining perfect health and true happiness in life. Derived from the ancient Sanskrit word 'yuj' Yoga signifies 'to join' or 'to unite' exemplifying the unity of the spiritual mind and physical body. The yogic practice is outlined by a set of specific theories or sutras known as Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
The yoga sutras chiefly define the eight limbs of yoga, which educate us on different facets of how to exemplify yoga (unity) in mind, body, and spirit. These include:
- Yamas: Principles that enlighten us on how to treat others and the world around us. It includes Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (abstinence), and Aparigraha (non-hoarding)
- Niyam: These are the principles by which we should practice self-discipline. It includes Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (heat), Svadhyaya (self-knowledge), and Ishvarapranidhana (full surrender to the divine).
- Asana: Practice of yoga postures
- Pranayama: Practice of breathing techniques
- Pratyhara: A technique that educates us on the way to travel into the mind and find ultimate peacefulness
- Dharana: Practice that teaches focus and concentration
- Dhyana: Practice that teaches deep meditation
- Samadhi: Practice to achieve enlightenment
Ayurveda, the ancient alternative remedial science of health and longevity, is a unique heritage of India. The origin of Ayurveda has been remarked since the ages of the Vedas which associates the mention of various preparations of plants, herbs and minerals that could be used to help an individual to conquer various health aberrations and guide towards absolute health and well-being through an intricate system of healing.
The term Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words, ‘ayu’ implicating ‘life’ and ‘veda’ indicating ‘knowledge’ which in literal terms mean the ‘Science Of Life’. According to ayurvedic scriptures, ‘Health’ is a state of stability that chiefly relies upon the normal functioning of the Doshas, Dhatus, Malas, and Agni. Here, the prevention of disease depends on the proper alignment of one’s lifestyle to the various seasons.
With time, there has been an amazing awakening of interest in natural ayurvedic remedies and procedures with the advent of modernization of ayurvedic concepts. Some of the latest ayurvedic advancements include:
- Availability of ayurvedic herbs and minerals right onto our palms in the form of easily ingestible and attractive formulations like churnas in the form of modern-day pills, tablets and capsules, kashayams in the form of syrups and tonics and lehyams in the form of ointments.
- Evolving beauty genre with more dependency on herb-based beauty essentials
- Availability of herbal supplements for a specific health condition or general wellness
- Availability of age-old kadhas in the form of herbal concoctions like nilavembu kudineer
- Increasing preference for ayurvedic diets about Dosha dominance in the body
Siddha is a form of healing practice that originated in the southern states of India, mainly in Tamil Nadu. The Siddha form of remedy was originally developed by ‘Siddhars’ who were deemed to be saints with spiritual powers in ancient India. According to several Indian scriptures, there were 18 main ‘Siddhars’ and of them, sage Agasthiyar was the father of the Siddha Medicinal System. The Siddha system of medicine is established on the belief that a healthy body is the building block of a healthy soul. Hence, it is believed that ancient Siddha practitioners established their life with a severe form of yogic exercises, meditation, and fasting and achieved superpowers including the miracle to remedy maladies.
Siddha treatment mainly focuses on the condition of the patient, his or her age, the severity of the condition, habits and environmental conditions.
Siddha visualises the predominance of humors or Doshas as Vatham, Pitham and Kapam in childhood, adulthood and old age respectively
The healing practice of Siddha depends on seven elements which are Saram (plasma) for the development of body tissues, Cheneer (blood) for the nutrition of muscles, Ooun (muscle) for body structure, Kollzuppu (fatty tissue) for lubrication of joints, Enbu (bone) for body stance, Moolai (nerve) for strength and Sukila (semen) for reproduction.
A Sattvik diet is chiefly categorized as a diet based on foods that comprise one of the three yogic qualities (guna) known as Sattva, the other two being Rajashic and Tamasic. This diet chiefly shares the qualities of Sattva, which are "pure, natural, vital, essential, energy-containing, clean, conscious, cruelty-free". Hence, it is primarily a purely vegetarian diet that mainly helps in raising sattva or our consciousness levels. Sattvik foods are usually cooked and eaten with love, appreciation and understanding. A person following a Sattvic diet is calm, amicable, peaceful, full of energy, health, hope, aspirations, confidence and has a well-balanced personality. Additionally, the Sattvic diet is crucial to reduce the risk of cancer, manage Type 2 diabetes, prevent heart problems and keep the weight in check. Sattvic Diet usually includes food options like:
- Whole grains
- Sprouted grains
- Fresh fruits
- Land and sea vegetables
- Pure fruit juices
- Sprouted seeds
- Nut and seed milk
- Herbal teas
Cooking And Eating Practices
Our health shows on our faces and to maintain a healthy body, it is pivotal to cultivate healthy cooking and eating habits. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of medicine strongly recommends retaining the balance of the bodily system through a collaboration of diet, natural herbs and some yogic practices. With the immense proven benefits of these ancient Indian eating practices, even the western nations have started showing considerable interest in healthy eating and cooking habits. These conventional healthy eating practices generally involve choosing foods according to a person's physical constitution, being mindful about the quantity of food, prioritizing quality food above quantity and eating as per the capacity are some of the Ayurvedic eating habits that could bring about a tremendous deal of change to promote overall well-being. Some of these healthy cooking and eating practices include:
- Sitting on the floor to eat and bending forward and then backwards to pick food. This gently massages the pancreas and boosts the digestive system.
- Eating with hands allows a person to consume food through all of the sense organs which are smell, touch, taste, sound and sight. This not only improves the experience of eating but also makes one feel satisfied after eating by hand.
- Sitting and drinking water prevents the accumulation of excess fluids in the joints, thus reducing the risk of arthritis
- Cooking food in clay or earthenware pots not only increases the nutritive value of the food but also helps reduce the quantity of oil required for cooking
- Eating foods according to season keeps stomach troubles and microbial infections at bay. E.g., ghee being warm must be consumed during winter to keep the body warm, whereas curd should be taken in the summers to keep the body cool.
- Avoiding distracted eating by keeping all electronic devices like mobile, and television at bay as a diverted environment makes one eat more and reduces the body’s ability to digest the food
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