Saturday, March 22, 2008

Self Care Secrets Debut at The Economist

We were speaking at The Economist this week and a question came from one of the employees about what practice I find most helpful as a self-care preventative against stress. Without thinking I said "dry brush and self massage". Silence ensued. Aside from being unintelligible to most people, to a twisted mind acutally sounds slightly tawdry.

Truth be told, this is just one of the many ancient "secrets" emerging in the mainstream. My husband's VERY conservative General Practitioner swears by his neti pot (details below), and even insisted my husband start to use one to keep allergies and colds/flu at bay. Check out three core daily self care practices we've inherited from the ayurvedic folk. Whether you adapt them now or later, there's no doubt they're on the rise!

1. Neti Pot - A neti pot is a little ceramic pot shaped much like a teapot. You fill it with room temperature water and a small portion of iodine free salt. You then tilt the spout into your nostril (yes, bear with me) and turn your head to the side so the saline was can run freely into one nostril and out of the other. Sound gross? Wait until you get through multiple winters cold free. Wait until you get through allergy season without becoming a sneezy, snotty mess. You'll see gross in a whole new way, and after all 'tis the season.

2. Tongue Scraping - (pictured above)No we don't mean the sensation of being licked by a cat. Tongue scraping is performed with a little bendy horseshoe shaped piece of metal that you brace in one hand to scrape bacteria off of your tongue. Why would you want to do that? Because bacteria is the reason for many icky things - colds and other illnesses, plaque, bad breath, gum disease, etc. It takes just a moment and is easily worked into your dental hygiene routine. Besides, once you see what you're scraping off your tongue, you'll be glad you did.

3. Dry Brush/Self Massage - Not just for the lonely among us, this practice is considered mega important among ayurvedic practitioners for stimulating "the body's natural pharmacy", or your lymphatic and immune systems. A dry brush is usually made of natural bristles and fits easily into your hand. Before you shower, you take the brush and sweep it over your entire body, usually from feet up. It shouldn't take more than a minute or two. Then you take a moment to rub organic body oil into your skin. This practice is a 1-2 punch that increases the immune system, softens your skin, improves tactile response and relieves muscular tension.

Whether your company sponsors someone like me to come teach about these things, run, don't walk, to the health food store to stock up on these instruments and make their use a part of your daily routine. When world renowned yogini Shiva Rea taught me these practices, she warned me they are addictive. They are, but in the very best way because they WORK.

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