Type Specific and Stress Free
Physical activity keeps our body fit and agile, builds muscles, and strengthens all internal organs. Playing sport is healthy, but overdoing it can be more destructive for your health, than just incurring a strain or sprain.
Certainly, sport should be fun, both during and after exercise. The long-term effects of overdoing sport are especially unhealthy: Your body loses its balance and its resources are depleted. What is "healthy sport" from the Ayurvedic point of view? We will show you in the following Ayurvedic sports tips.
Too much exertion in sport can be just as unhealthy as too little. But how do you find the right balance for yourself? The Ayurvedic rule of thumb is: When you start to sweat and breathe heavily, such that you no longer breathe through the nose, but through the mouth, you should slow down or stop. In this way, you use no more than 50 % of your capacity. Such a fitness program is balancing, and ideal for your health. This differs from current medical opinion, which considers the purpose of sport is mainly to build muscles and strengthen circulation, whereas Ayurveda considers sport much more holistically: Sports should help to maintain inner balance throughout the body, to strengthen all organs, and to make the immune system more resilient. In the right amount, sport increases well-being and reduces, rather than builds up stress. This makes sport more fun and is much healthier than overloading the body to achieve momentary elation. Charak Samhita, the classical Ayurvedic textbook, says: "He who undertakes sport in excess looses his energies in time, as a lion trying to compete with an elephant." After a healthy training session, sport normally makes you feel better and more energetic than before. Exhaustion, according to Ayurveda, is a sign of unhealthy sport.
It is better to exercise for a few minutes, to half an hour daily, at 50% capacity, to keep fit, rather than exhaust yourself for two hours once or twice a week. The body benefits more from regular exercise and, according to the classical Ayurvedic texts, over time it becomes strong, energetic, flexible, and stamina increases. Heart and internal organs are strengthened, the digestive power is stimulated, and the mind becomes balanced and calm.
Type Specific Instructions
Ayurveda gives specific instructions for exercise, depending on age and constitutional type.
1. Age: those under 25 years of age should participate regularly in sufficient sport. By nature children usually move a lot and enjoy sport. However, they should not be forced to achieve target goals. Children generally know exactly which, and how much exercise, is good for them.
Between 25 and 40, the fitness program can be somewhat more moderate, depending on your constitutional type (see point 2).
People over 40 should, with increasing age, undertake more moderate but regular sports (about 1/4 - 1/2 hour per day).
2. Constitution: For slim people, with fine limbs and fast movements, known in Ayurveda as Vata types, slow, light sports, which keep the body moving continuously for 15 - 20 minutes, are the most appropriate. These include walking, swimming, dancing and cycling. Vata types should be particularly careful not to overdo sports, and in winter should possibly prefer indoor sports, because they are not so well suited to the cold.
People with moderate to vigorous physique, Pitta types, with good thermostasis, whose heat production is balanced, can tolerate more exercise.
Suitable activities include: water sports such as swimming and surfing, all sports that are practiced in the open air such as, skiing, climbing, cycling, light jogging and all ball and team sports.
Those who, by nature are more solidly built, Kapha types, may often not be very motivated, but, they will especially benefit from regular exercise. They may make their sport sessions a little more intense and longer. Recommended sports: jogging, long distance running and rowing.
For all body types, warm up time is important.
The Right Time for Sport
Did you know that due to body biorhythms, certain times are either more or less suitable for your personal exercise program?
1. Time of day: morning between 6 and 10 a.m. is the best time for your fitness programme. Evening is the ideal time to relax, rest and rejuvenate.
2. Season: In summer you should not "work out" in the midday heat. Generally, it is better to do more sport in autumn, winter and spring than in summer.
You should avoid sports...
- if you feel exhausted
- in case of illness
- when you're hungry or thirsty
- just before or after eating. After eating wait at least 2-3 hours. There is, however, nothing wrong with an after-dinner digestive walk.
- during menstruation, pregnancy and for some time after childbirth, women should avoid vigorous sport - certain yoga postures and gestational or postnatal exercises excepted, of course.
Food and Drinks
Freshly prepared food and beverages are good for fitness. Enjoy varied, nutritious and tasty food! Ayurveda puts less emphasis on calorie counting and the question of vitamins and carbohydrates, than on recognizing your own individual needs. Lunch should be your main meal, breakfast and dinner can be lighter. Regular meal times are pleaseant for the body and allow it to digest food perfectly. Special Ayurvedic drinks for high physical demand: almond drink and teas such as, Fitness Exclusive, Tea for Men, and First Lady.
The Secret of Rasayanas
Ayurveda describes a variety of herbal and mineral mixtures, called Rasayanas. They contain not only highly concentrated nutrients, but also develop a unique effect on the mind and body by virtue of their specific compilation. Each of the different ingredients complement and reinforce each other synergistically, and can therefore be optimally absorbed by the body.
The most important Ayurvedic food supplement, Maharishi Amrit Kalash, supports the immune system in a holistic manner, and also has been proven to reduce cell-damaging substances known as free radicals. Free radicals are highly destructive molecular fragments that are increasingly produced at high levels of exertion.
The nutritional supplement, Sport Rasayana, for physically active people, is made up of Indian Amlafruit (Amalaki). According to the Ayurvedic texts, it has holistically nourishing and balancing properties as well as a natural anabolic (muscle building) effect.
Yoga asanas are sequentially coordinated postures that will not only increase flexibility, but also improve the mind-body coordination. They should, however, only be learned from an experienced teacher.
Relaxation = Regeneration
After exercise, a sufficient regeneration period is as important as the sport itself. During this time, the body recovers and regains energy. A gentle massage with Ayurvedic massage oils relaxes the stressed limbs and joints. It also helps to reduce the build up of Lactic acid, Lactate, which produces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). In the resting phase, you can enjoy soothing ayurvedic aroma oils, which also create a pleasant atmosphere in the gym.
Regular mental relaxation is important for continued success and inner balance. Transcendental Meditation is an ancient Vedic consciousness technique that is easy to learn and practice. More than several hundred scientific studies have clearly proven it's unique effectiveness, as compared to other methods of relaxation.
Top Level Sport
The above ayurvedic tips are only partially applicable for professional athletes, since they need to train more in order to achieve top performance. For professionals, we recommend taking appropriate ayurvedic food supplements to reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Also, be sure to maintain your daily regeneration phases, and twice a year take a Panchakarma course (Ayurvedic purification therapy).
Professionals report that these measures enhance their performance and improve their health.
- Remember the 50% load rule.
- Regularity is the key to success.
- Exercise between 6 and 10 am in the morning.
- Eat a healthy diet and take ayurvedic food supplements to support your mind and body.
- After exercise, the relaxation and regeneration phase is essential.
- Relax regularly with Transcendental Meditation.
- Practice yoga asanas.