Hinduism is generally acknowledged to be one of the world’s oldest and largest religions. Hinduism currently has over 1 billion adherents worldwide, which makes up about 15% of the world’s population. About 80-90% of all Hinduism followers are in India. Here are the Top 10 Health and Fitness Tips from Hinduism:
- Strive to Achieve Balance in Health, Body, and Spirit — Dharma – Followers of Hinduism believe that the body is made up of natural elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. It is believed that proper balance of these elements indicates good health, whereas imbalance indicates the opposite. Followers of Hinduism strive to achieve balance throughout their lives using self-control, meditation, yoga, and a clean diet.
Dharma stands for the ultimate moral balance of all things in life and belongs to the universe and the individual as well. The individual is responsible to balancing their own dharma through all areas of life such as religious, social, and familial areas.
- Benefits of a Structured Dietary Code – Followers of Hinduism believe that showing care for what you eat can save your body and mind. Food is believed to be the source of the body’s chemistry, which means Hindus believe that what you eat can affect your mood and thoughts. Orthodox Hindus are pure vegetarians and many choose to avoid the eating of animal meat altogether, due to the belief that all of God’s creatures are worthy of respect and compassion. While many observe a strict vegetarian diet consisting of no animal byproducts, others may adhere to the religion’s dietary codes in varying degrees of strictness. Most refrain from consuming beef because the cow is considered sacred and pork, duck, camel, snails, and crab are generally avoided. Overall, lacto-vegetarian diet where dairy is consumed with non-animal foods is favored among the Hindu population.
This dietary code consists of three categories:
- Tamasic food: stale, leftover, overripe, spoiled, or otherwise impure food. It is believed to produce negative emotions, such as anger, greed and jealousy.
- Rajasic food: believed to produce strong emotional qualities in the mind such as passions or restlessness. These are commonly spicy or pungent foods like meat, eggs, fish, spices, onions, garlic, and hot peppers.
- Sattvic food: believed to be the most desireable food that is non-irritating to the stomach and purifying for the mind. Sattvic food is believed to promote calmness. These foods include fruits, nuts, whole grains, and vegetables.
- Practice Yoga – In Hinduism, yoga is primarily spiritual. The physical aspect comes second, and is meant to be exercise in purification, allowing man to work toward achieving a higher spiritual and mental state. Yoga goes hand in hand with meditation in many disciplines, and is meant to connect the body and mind in preparation for meditation.
- The Use of Tulsi – Tulsi, or “Holy Basil” is widely used and revered in Hinduism due to its many medicinal and religious purposes. This plant has antimicrobial properties and is known to promote longevity. Tulsi is a very important plant in Ayurveda and can be found in nearly every Hindu household. The plant’s extracts can be used for many common ailments like the common cold, stomach disorders, headaches, inflammation, malaria, and heart disease. Tulsi can even purify or de-pollute the air and acts as a repellant against mosquitoes, flies, and other insects.
- Self-Control – In Hinduism, it is believed that the mind and body can be trained to resist and overcome cravings or harmful behaviors such as addiction. The Hindu sacred writings called the Bhagavad Gita, states “It is true that the mind is restless and difficult to control. But it can be conquered…through regular practice and detachment. Those who lack self-control will find it difficult to progress in meditation; but those who are self-controlled, striving earnestly through the right means, will attain the goal”.
- Intermittent Fasting – Fasting habits depend on a person’s caste, or social ranking, and is usually done during holy days, moon days, and during festivals. It is important to note that intermittent fasting is rarely done continuously for more than one day. According to a study done on mice at The University of Southern California by Valter Longo, published in (Cell Metabolism), the benefits of intermittent fasting included improved immune system, reduction of cancer incidence, and promotion of stem cell regeneration, particularly in the brain.
- Improved Oral Health – According to a study done on the impact of cultural factors in health, (tribal and primitive Hindu) populations’ diet patterns consisting of fibrous and coarse vegetation were shown to possibly reduce tooth decay and facilitate adequate stimulation of jaw muscles because they forgo refined carbohydrates and red meat. The habit of alcoholism is prohibited among high caste Hindus, which also promotes oral health.
- Cleanliness – The Hindu way of living gives tremendous importance to cleanliness and hygiene. Many Hindus practice a daily bath ritual and you cannot visit the temple without bathing beforehand. Similarly, one may not enter a puja room (prayer room) until they are in clean clothes after bathing.
- Meditation – Hindus believe that through meditation, we have the ability to evolve into higher beings through mental focus. Meditation can help overcome mental blocks, negative thinking, fears, and anxiety if practiced regularly.
- Karmic Belief – Karma is a facet of the Hindu belief system. Karma literally means “deed” or “act”, and often refers to the accumulations of your actions and determines each soul’s unique destiny. Karma stands for the belief that an individual experiences the effects of his or her behavior and actions, and that every act or thought has consequences. Negative thoughts and actions can result in commensurate suffering, wherein good thoughts and actions can liberate a person.
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