I am probably relatively new to Yoga, considering I have only been practicing it for about 2 years now. I NEVER EVER thought I would become a Yogi. I don't think I really understood what Yoga was actually all about. I was reading an article about a woman, who had been unhappy with her health and her body, but never had the time to workout, but went on to drastically improve her health, by simply doing 10 minutes of yoga every day. That is when I thought, "I can do 10 minutes every day, I certainly have 10 minutes spare every day!". As an experiment (and I mean an experiment, as I was convinced a)this wasn't for me, b) 10 minutes a day surely won't make the slightest difference and c) well, Yoga just isn't for me, full stop) I decided to give it a go. I picked some beginners poses from the internet and found a workout which was easy enough for me to follow and covered about 10 minutes. Every morning after waking, I did my little yoga routine.
Within a fortnight, I was feeling muscles building up, which I hadn't felt since I was in my teens. The more muscle I was building up, the less strain and therefore less pain I had in my joints. My "bad knee" didn't hurt with every staircase I climbed. My breathing improved, as I was able to fill my lungs a lot further. I had so much more energy than I had experienced for many, many years. What started as a 10 minute workout increased to 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, adding more poses every so often. Now, I enjoy an hour of Yoga every morning! It is something I really look forward to. It is that tiny bit of me time, which helps me keep the balance. I use some of my Yoga session to include meditation, but for the rest of the time, I happily let my mind wander where ever it wants.
It sounds really simple, but the reality is often not so. It took me years to realise I just wasn't drinking enough water! Now, I have always been fairly good with the choice of my beverages, as I don't like fizzy and sugary drinks and I don't like a lot of caffeine either. Most of the time my choice would be water anyway, but I didn't drink anywhere near enough, especially to cover the odd cup of tea, even the herbal ones, as they will dehydrate the body to a degree. I just didn't realise how much water the body actually needs! Now, I drink at least 2 litres of water every day! This allows me to drink some herbal teas and maybe the odd cup of caffeine fee black tea in addition, without dehydrating me. Hydration effects many, many things in our body, from blood pressure, over weight gain, to allergies and autoimmune conditions, so I make sure I am well hydrated.
Healthy Homemade Food:
I am very fortunate, as I love cooking and baking! This wasn't always the case though, as I lost my confidence a bit, when my very first mother in law convinced me my cooking skills were rubbish and it would require many, many years of practice to come even remotely close to her standards. I was young and easily influenced and unfortunately believed what she said. Mind, I guess it didn't help that my parents' present to me for the wedding was a copy of Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course! ... Thankfully I eventually sniffed out that my MIL's opinion was clearly not objective and I filed her information accordingly ;-) After all, I went on to run my own specialist bakery and developed a vast amount of great recipes. I think, what I am trying to say is, you don't have to be Delia to provide your family with a healthy everyday meals. The beauty about home cooking is that you are 100% in charge of what goes into your food and therefore what goes into your body! Another big bonus, especially if like me, you or family members have special dietary requirements, is that meals cooked with all fresh ingredients are often far cheaper than the shop bought alternatives. Food, just like water, is the fuel your body runs on. We all know what happens if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our car. The same is to be said about our body and food. The better the food, the better the body functions and better certainly doesn't mean more expensive. Sure, we do buy the odd bit of "naughty" chocolate, but on a daily basis, all meals are cooked from scratch, with real ingredients, I bake the family's bread supplies and biscuits and cakes, so the need for any "naughty" alternatives is very little. Besides, if your diet 99% of the time is based on real food, then the odd "treat" is far better dealt with by your body. In terms of food, I like to keep it real!
Gosh, I think sleep and sleep quality has been one of the least consistent things in my life! If it wasn't due to sleep deprivation, for example when my kids were small, it would be my own mind keeping me awake at night. I have to admit, for many years I functioned amazingly well, considering the lack of sleep I would have and the poor quality of it. I would live, looking forward to the weekend, in hope of catching up on some much needed Zs, but would wake feeling drained and lethargic, despite having slept considerably longer. Good sleep was seemingly impossible to achieve and even when I thought I had slept fairly well, I would wake up feeling exhausted, unable to even find the energy to get out of bed. So many lifestyle choices can disrupt our sleep, in turn lack of good sleep effects our mood and our mood effects our mind and our thoughts, which often, when negatively effected, can be another huge contributing factor of insomnia. High blood pressure, weight gain and depression are just some of the many problems a lack of sleep can cause. It took me a while to figure out the intricate web surrounding good sleep and how when all the different aspects of our life have to come together in the right way, good sleep is easily achieved and how, if as little as one aspect in our life is out of order, it can destroy all other efforts of sleeping well. Achieving good sleep has been one of the most important, if not the most important part in finding health and happiness.
No or very little alcohol and caffeine:
It took me surprisingly long to figure this out. No really! Having said that, I have never drank much of either in the past anyway and I think this is why I just didn't realise how bad it effected me when I did. After all, social media and modern has us all believing drinking a flat white in a hip coffee shop or sipping a glass of wine after a busy day is not just a treat, but stylish and quite frankly customary. Like so many other people, I didn't suspect the odd glass of wine or my occasional cup of black tea or coffee to be amplifying some of my problems, never mind causing them. Thankfully, I eventually "connected all the dots" and noticed how when I had been able to avoid caffeine and alcohol I would feel so much better. I decided there and then, I didn't want them to be a regular part of my life anymore. I bought myself some caffeine free tea and coffee, for the odd time I might fancy a cuppa and simply cut out any alcohol, as I didn't really miss it at all. Within a very short period of time, I noticed huge improvements in my health and wellbeing, too many to list in detail here, but improved sleep, less headaches, far more energy and a drastic reduction or elimination of all sorts of symptoms I had previously experienced. It was in theory just a very simple and small change, but had a great big positive impact on my health.
I understand oil pulling is a bit of a controversial topic, as people either truly believe it is beneficial or they think it is complete and utter humbug! I personally first tried oil pulling as an experiment over 2 years ago and to be honest, I do feel it helps me in many, many ways. Besides, the entertainment factor is well worth it! My kids will generally find 100 questions to ask me during these 15 minutes in which I have my mouth full with coconut oil every morning and it ends up in a "game of charades", with me trying to answer them with gestures and my kids trying to figure out my answers. Also, the odd sneeze while oil pulling is definitely interesting! ;-) :-D
I am mentioning this one last, as I understand not everybody wants to go down the route of supplements. For me supplements have made a considerable difference in terms physical and mental health. Supplements are a very individual aspect of our lives and what works for one, might not work for the next. With my autoimmune condition I have learnt over the years, which supplements work best for me and I stick to a small selection, which I know is essential to my health and has a made a huge difference to my wellbeing.