What keeps us youthful?
In reality this is a billion dollar question that many including science are searching.
When Radhika did her interviews of older adults who were still going strong over 80, she found a common element was having a passion, a special interest, as well as staying active mentally & physically.
To help unravel this secret it is worth while understanding what vitality means. Vita means “life”, and vitality is associated with life force, health and youthfulness.
So what what are the things you can do to keep your vitality strong?
I have given a selection of 10 thoughts on how you may improve your vitality. It’s up to you, to see if the idea fits with you, if you feel an affinity towards any aspect, then you can do more research, delve into deeper, explore the ideas, and bring the practices to life. You may be surprised to see your vitality grow…
Let’s consider what the great traditions of science, tantra, yoga, and ayurveda (the Indian system of health & medicine) have to say.
(Remember there is also an element of luck – good genes, and being born to right place at the right time.)
1 Spiritual Purpose/Passion
Set your intention for life – open your unconscious to the idea of leading a healthy purposeful fulfilling life. Use the power of mantra to help set your intention. This is a powerful word or vibration that gets your head in the right place. Write it down to keep it present in your mind. See it written in your environment. A good mantra for vitality is the word OJAS. More about it later in the article. But then you need to take action, not just hope something will happen.
2 Mind Frame
• Work towards a positive outlook.
• Resilient approach – get back up and going again, when things get you down.
• Keep learning – higher learning tends to contribute to a longer quality life.
• Be kind to yourself and others.
• Listen to your GUT/Heart
Much of how our brain works is unconscious; only a small part operates in the conscious. Sometimes the unconscious can process things way better than the conscious and be advising you, but you fail to see it as you can be too caught in the rational thoughts you’re consciously aware. The unconscious often operates through feeling ie GUT feeling. What is it telling you? Are you over riding what your GUT/heart says may be best for you?
This can cause tension & wasted energy – reducing your vitality.
3 Work towards Balance & Moderation
• This means avoiding exhausting your self, over loading your body tissues, senses or mind.
Yoga theory refers to vitality in our body in terms of Prana – life energy. Prana moves through our body in 5 ways – drawing inward, bearing downward, moving upward, moving outward to circulate, and through your digestion. Prana flow is maintained via attending to balance within our being.
• Balance in body – at its simplest, it’s keeping good neutral posture with natural curves to your spine, but being flexible to adapt to whatever actions you need.
Balance in physiology – at its simplest: breathing naturally, which is nose breathing with abdominal movement without jerks, huffs or yawns, and the breath is slow, gentle & small.
Balance in mind – at its simplest: calm & clear, which can be cultivated through doing things you love, good sleep, and regular relaxation or meditation.
4 Stay Physically Active
People who do higher levels of physical activity help add length to their telomeres, which would otherwise shorten as we age with each new cell division.
5 Consider Diet holistically – not just with fad trends
Science continually high lights that a mediterranean style diet is helpful. This means a diet which highlights moderation in things and freshness. Fruit and veggies with all the colours, lentils, nuts & seeds, whole grains, fish, less red meat, and lots of healthy oils eg olive oil.
It may be helpful to make sure you get enough quality fibre to feed your Gut microbiome for good Gut Health.
6 Get rid of the Toxins
• Too many chemical products – instead, explore the many new sustainable options
7 Cultivate OJAS
In Ayurveda, the ancient science of health & wellbeing in Indian tradition, there is a concept that especially relates to our vitality. It is called OJAS; it is a subtle essence distilled from the quality of the food we eat, having good digestion & processing through the 6 tissue levels in our bodies according to Ayurveda. It can be influenced by the sensory impressions we take in. Sensory overload can reduce OJAS.
OJAS indicates radiant health, strong immunity, vigour & a long life. It can be observed by having eye & skin lustre, cheerful nature, clarity of mind, energy, and serenity. Low OJAS can be observed by being anxious, worried, poor complexion, fatigue, weakness, and sensory disorders.
According to Indian tradition, how you eat is as important as what you eat, ie it impacts on your digestion. One should aim to eat with purpose, slowly, in good company, with fresh, wonderful smelling & delicious food, like indicated in the traditional french diet. Fast food & eating on the go are ill advised.
Indian concepts to build OJAS include:
• Regular bathing
• Oil massage
• Moderate exercise
• Positive emotions
• Nourishing foods like milk (cow is special in India), fruit, dates, seeds, nuts, almonds, special foods like amalaki fruit & chyawanprash, nutrient herbs like aswagandha ie withania, ginger etc.
7 Promote RASA
Also in the Indian tradition, it promotes healthy RASA or blood plasma/lymph through nourishing food & movement – interestingly science is pursuing how youthful plasma infusion may in fact keep you young.
8 Hydrate your Fascia
Tom Myers, an Anatomist, found how important our body fascia & connective tissue is to our health & vitality. He proposed that we work to keep our facia well hydrated and mobilised. Connective tissue is a little like a sponge; if you compress it or stretch it, then relax it, it helps to take up fluid & hydrate. Tight fascia & connective tissue can contribute to body stiffness, aches & pains, and can greatly contribute to you feeling much older. Yoga & simple fascial mobilisation techniques can help mobilise your fascia and help your vitality.
Nourish your fascia with angular, circular, loving flow movements, which stretch your fascia in all directions. You can also use rollers & balls to help mobilise your body fascia.
The key is to move in all directions, not just your usual movement directions.
Try our Vitality Yoga Class on youtube
9 Take Positive Skin Care
• Avoid excess sun – cover up or use quality sun care anti UV lotions.
• Keep your skin moisturised.
• Science suggests that Retinol can have moderate effect on preventing the ageing of the skin.
10 Time Out
In the Indian tradition, time out is recommended for body & spiritual health.
• Take time out for rejuvenating yourself.
• Take time in nature…
• Do things you love…
• Go on an appropriate retreat…
• Have a rejuvenating holiday…
• Help others…