Leading a balanced and healthy lifestyle is sometimes easier said than done. However, one of the largest schools of yoga, the Sivananda school, devised a model of five pillars that can be applied to our daily life to help us achieve that balance.
Right Exercise: This entails practicing asanas ( i.e. yoga poses, literally means “seat” or “to sit down” in Sanskrit) and any other forms of exercise regularly. However, one must take into account his age, his state of health and his physical needs at the time of practice. Yoga is no competition. Respect and honor your body and it will thank you in return.
“To keep the body healthy is a duty… otherwise we cannot keep our mind strong and clear.” The Buddha, (c.563-c.483 BCE), India
Right Breathing: Have you noticed how a child breathes innately through his belly? How come then, as adults, we no longer make use of our full lung capacity and become shallow chest breathers? This short, shallow, unnatural way of breathing, if I may say, leads to more stress and tension. Being mindful and aware of our breath and restoring the natural way of breathing energizes our whole body and reduces stress and its related diseases. So, when you feel anxious or stressed, take a few moments to breathe deeply and slowly.
“Inhale, and God approaches you.” Sri Tirumalai Krishnamasharya (1888-1989), India
Right Thinking: This pillar is about positive thinking and meditation. It’s about clearing our mind from its chaotic scattered thoughts and negative attitudes. We are what we think and incorporating a daily meditative practice helps us become more in control of our thoughts.
“Let the five senses and the mind they serve become still. Let awareness itself cease all activity and become watchful. Then you have begun your journey on the highest path.” Katha Upanishad ( 800-400 BCE), India
Right Nutrition: This entails fueling our bodies with healthy, fresh and nutritious food and eating it slowly and mindfully enjoying every mouthful. Try to avoid processed foods and opt instead for organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and wholesome home cooked meals. Try as well to vary your protein sources and include more vegetable proteins such as legumes, beans, and soy.
“Foods that are tasty, wholesome and satisfying give long life, vitality, strength, health, happiness and satisfaction.” Bhagavad Gita (400-300 BCE), India
Right Relaxation: Take time for yourself during the day. You need this time to balance all the mental and physical activities and to replenish your energy. Sitting somewhere peaceful for 10 minutes will revitalize you and increase your focus and concentration.
“All mankind’s troubles are caused by one single thing, which is their inability to sit quietly in a room.” Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), France
Giving attention to all the above pillars through our daily life helps us stay strong and balanced in mind, body and spirit.
“The world will be balanced when we are balanced.” Tarthang Tulku, (Born 1935), Tibet