2. Good Habits

Fertile soil yields good crops. To make the soil fertile, the farmer works very hard by removing weed, ploughing the field in the hot sun, watering, manuring and so on. Then only the land produces good crops.

Human body is also like the land. We can control our body by weeding out unhealthy habits. Good habits help the body in performing the righteously acts and lead a pious life. They also streamline the body and mind to suit Yoga practice.

Everyone respects us if our habits are good. Good habits indirectly train a person in inculcating discipline and socially appreciable characters. It is the responsibility of parents to train the children in acquiring good habits from the childhood itself. Not only young and elders, but also children are becoming prey to various attractions that lead to the formation of bad habits. It is the responsibility of every one to strive to eradicate this evil from the society. Yoga helps a lot in the formation of good habits and eliminating the ills.

The success of Yoga practice depends upon the regular observation of daily activities, food, water, sleep, bathing, fasting, urination, free pass of stool etc. One should have detailed knowledge of these aspects and see that they are regular.

1. Daily Routine:

A disciplined daily routine is necessary for a good health. Whatever duties we do, they should be right and regular.

We should go to bed early and rise early everyday. As soon as we get up, whether we feel thirst or not we should drink a tumbler full or glass full of water (about half to one litre). After attending to the calls of nature we have to wash our face and after cleaning the mouth we have to remove the dirt on the tongue with a tongue cleaner. Most people just gargle and spit out which is not enough. We have to massage the roof of mouth (palate) with the thumb twice or thrice and clean it also. Every morning, afternoon and night we should clean our teeth after taking meals, so that the dirt on the teeth, gums,tongue and in the mouth is removed. We should not use needles, pins and other things to remove the dirt between the teeth. Whenever we eat anything, we have to gargle the mouth with water two or three times.

It is better to have bath with normal water. In winter and in cold countries or whenever we feel sick we may have a thorough warm water bath. The main purpose of bathing is to completely remove the dirt of the body.

We should wear loose clothes and avoid tighter ones. We should wear clean washed clothes everyday. Especially the inner garments including the socks etc. should be always clean.

Sleep is necessary for every one. If a person gets a sound sleep he may be deemed to be a healthy person. Sleeplessness is a sign of ill health. The place where we sleep should be clean and well ventilated. The cot, mat, bed and pillows should also be neat, clean and levelled.

We have to talk politely and melodiously with others. We should speak the truth, but it should not be harsh. It should be modest and gentle. There is a saying “Satyam Vada Priyam Vada“ – i.e. Say the truth politely. We should minimize our requirements and make it a habit to help others specially helpless, weak, destitute, sick, aged and handicaps.

We have to review the day’s activities and plan for the next day’s work before we sleep. We have to take note of the day’s mistakes or wrongs that we did knowingly or unknowingly. We have to note down the important events every day in a diary.

If everyone follows the daily routine regularly and is habituated for it, he will be automatically disciplined and will be an asset to the nation.

2. Food:

Food is necessary for us to live. Nature has blessed us with many things as food. If we take limited food on time everyday, we can live happily without any diseases. We should use vegetables, roots, pulses, food grains, dhaniya, ginger, onion, garlic, lime, coconut etc. in required quantity.

Seasonal fruits are available in plenty. We can eat them, or we may drink their juice…

We should have only two main meals a day. There should be at least four hours interval between breakfast and lunch. Those who take their meals in the morning between 9 and 11 am should not take any breakfast. They may have some fruits around 3 pm in the afternoon. Fruit juice or a cup of coffee or tea if habituated, may be taken. Those who do physical labour, should take food in sufficient quantity. Those who engage only in desk work (without much physical movements) should consume minimum food.

“Eat liquids and drink solids” is a known saying. Saliva that secretes in the mouth, mixes with the food and helps its digestion. So we must chew the food till it is turned to liquid and then drink it like water. Water and other liquids should be slowly eaten. This also gives very good exercise to the jaws, teeth and gums.

1. As soon as we wake up, seven Yogasanas – Niralambasan, Shanti-asan, Supta Pavan Muktasan, Tanasan, Paschimottanasan, Nispanda-bhavasan and Utkut-Pavan muktasan should be done and then we should compulsorily drink a tumbler full of water.

2. We should not eat anything without attending to the calls of nature. Those who don’t feel attending to their calls of nature in the morning, should drink two glasses of warm water and make it a habit to pass them in the morning itself.

3. We should try to avoid drinking water, during we eat our meals.

4. Nothing should be eaten for some time, after any physical exercise, Yoga practice or walking.

5. We should not sleep immediately after supper. There should be sufficient time between the supper and going to sleep.

6. Whenever we are on fast, we should not have too many fruits or much liquids.

7. When we feel ill, we should eat minimum.

8. Staled, fermented or spoiled food should not be taken.

9. Stained or over-ripen parts of the fruits are generally removed and the rest is eaten. We should avoid such fruits totally.

10. We should wash our feet, hands, mouth and face compulsorily before we have our meals. This reduces tension in the body and the food is easily digested.

11. We must pray God before we start our meals.

12. We should be at ease and peace while eating. We should neither talk unnecessarily nor chit chat while we eat. We should also avoid talking on phone while eating. One should better stop eating and attend to phone if it is very urgent or may ring back to the caller after completing the meals. Laughing while eating / drinking is dangerous. But we can listen to melodious and peaceful music.

13. We must perform Niralambasan for at least 2 minutes before supper.

14. We must walk at least ten minutes after we have our meals and sit for 5 to 10 minutes in Vajrasan.

3. Fastings:

Fastings are necessary for the cleanliness of the internal organs of the body. They also contribute a lot for the spiritual development. Many people observe half a day fast or a day’s fast once a week, others fast for eight days or 21 days or even a month continuously. Some others fast even more than that.

It is better for every one to observe fast for a day in a week. It is a total rest for the digestive system on that day. ‘Miss a meal once a week’ is a famous saying in English. Fastings is a Tapsya in disguise. One may take lime juice, fruit juice, vegetable soup or warm water at the beginning of the fasting. No tiffin should be taken during the time of fasting. During fasting one should feel physically at ease and mentally calm.

Fastings are in practice from the time immemorial. All the religions give importance to fastings. Man will be ever healthy if he eats minimum and observes fastings. He would be leading a happy and peaceful life.

4. Drinking water:

The earth has three fourth of water and one fourth of land. So is human body. Three fourths of our body consists water. If the water content in our body reduces than three fourth, it leads to many abnormalities and dangers.

We should drink water whenever we feel thirsty. But whether we feel it or not we have to drink at least a glassful of water every morning soon after we get up from the bed. This is termed as ‘Usha Paan’ or ‘Morning drink’. If we make ‘morning drink’ a habit, our calls of nature are easy and free. If we drink a little water, just before taking meals, it increases our appetite. If we drink more, it reduces our appetite. We must drink water only after one hour of taking the meals. It digests the food easily. Water should not be taken while we eat.

Saliva is required to digest the water that we drink. So water should be held in the mouth for few seconds and slowly drunk. Filtered water is good for the health. We may boil and filter the water. We should avoid drinking water in hotels and other public places as that spreads bacterial diseases. Therefore we should be very careful about the purity of drinking water.

One should drink at least 2 litres of water daily to maintain the internal cleanliness of the body.

5. Passing of stools (Faeces):

If the stool is not passed correctly one day, then abnormality starts in the body. It is a must to pass the stool every morning. Those who don’t have such habits should make it a habit compulsorily. It should not be passed out forecefully. When it passes easily and comfortably, man is healthy.

We should have ‘a morning drink’ as soon as we get up and later go to pass the stool. We may practice certain Yogasanas also for easy stool passing. We should make it a habit to take meals two times a day and also pass stool twice a day. Vaman Dhauti Kriya, Vasti or Enema may be used. Enema should not be taken frequently. “Excess is always dangerous”. So one should see that the stool is passed naturally and easily. Soon after passing, the anus should be cleaned and hands are washed either with clay or with soap. Legs are to be washed. If possible one may take bath.

6. Passing of urine:

Passing of urine is also as important as passing of stool. We should pass it out, whenever we feel. We should not pass it out wherever we like, but at proper places.

We should pass it:
a. Before we sleep in the night
b. Soon after we get up in the morning (after talking water as morning drink)
c. After practicing Yogasanas and physical exercises
d. After taking meals

It is better to clean the urinary organs with water, soon after the urine is passed out. Later hands and legs may be washed.

It is known to every one that if one drinks his urine, the disease resisting power increases in him. Self-urine drink is known as “Shivambu”.

Excess urination is not good. Stoppage of urine is also not good. Therefore one should be very cautious about the passage of urine. While passing urine, lower teeth should be tightly held by the upper teeth. By this, teeth are strengthened. Nothing should be there in the mouth while passing urine.

7. Bathing:

Bathing is a must for every one to lead a healthy life. The main purpose of bathing is to remove the dirt gathered on the skin and release the tension of the mind. Every morning after attending to the calls of the nature, we must take bath. Some people take bath once a day, others take twice or even thrice a day in summer. Morning and evening, two times bath is good from the health point of view. We get rid of laziness from the morning bath. Evening bath cleans the dirt on the body accumulated during day’s work and makes us have a tension free deep sleep in the night. Bathing in the flowing water or a river is preferable. Bathing in a tank or with a pumpset water is also good. City people use tap water for bathing. Taking bath in normal (cold) water is better. We can have warm water bath in winter or when we feel ill.

While taking bath we must rub or massage the body thoroughly. It is better to have bath with proper herbal powder or besan-channa atta (horse gram powder). A number of soaps are popular these days, we should use the soap that does not harm the skin. If black mud is available, its paste should be applied to head and body and then have a thorough bath. A number of advantages are there with the black mud bath. We should massage the head and the body with oil once a week & take streambath followed by normal bath.

We should first wet the feet and then the entire body before we take bath. We should use the required quantity of water only. We have to follow certain do’s and don’t’s about bathing. We should not take bath immediately after taking meals, after walking in the sun, after running, after practicing Yogasanas or other exercises. We must wait for some time till our body and the breathing become normal and then go for bathing. After bath we must dry our body thoroughly with a dry cloth. Specially we should see that no water drops remain either in the leg pits or armpits. If water drops remain there, that may lead to skin diseases.

We should take care that there should be no shivering in the body either during bath or after bath.

The pores of the skin are opened after the bath. The blood circulation is regulated in the nerves. Energy in body is regenerated, new vigour develops and laziness and tiredness vanish.

Bathing should be avoided in sickness like fever, weakness etc., sponging with warm wet cloth will be sufficient in such conditions.

8. Sleep:

Sleep helps a lot in recovering from illness and tiresomeness. Getting a sound sleep is a sign of good health. No one has defined the sleep undisputedly so far. There is a difference between sleep and intoxication. Those, who don’t get sleep, swallow sleeping pills. This is not the right way. Sleeping pills take one into sub-consciousness or into an intoxicated state but not into real sleep. Those who are addicted to pills should gradually reduce their use. We should try to know the reason or problem for not getting sleep and try to solve it. If we have easy passage of urine and stool, we get a comfortable sleep. Sorrow, troubles, worries etc. are the general reasons for not getting sleep. We should try to forget or avoid or solve them.

If we practice regularly Jalaneti Kriya, Shanti asan or Yoga Nidra or chant sleeping mantras we get a comfortable sleep. If we keep our feet in luke-warm water for a while in the night we can get a fine sleep.

Men and women should have atleast 7 – 8 hours sleep every night. 6 hours of sleep is enough for the aged. 4 to 5 hours sleep is sufficient for regular Yoga practitioners. After lunch, we should take rest for 15 to 20 minutes by sleeping on the left side. If we do so the liver functions well, food is digested completely and alertness in the body also increases. This posture of sleeping on the left side keeping the legs straight is called ‘Vama-kukshi’, which is an ideal post-lunch relaxation.

When we lie down on the right side, breathing will be more prominent through the left nostril. Breathing through the left nostril is call “Chandra Swar”. Similarly lying down on the left side, breathing will be more through the right nostril which is called ‘Surya Swar’.

The couples who want to have a male baby, the husband should have Surya Swar and the wife Chandra Swar before and during intercourse. For a female baby, the husband should have Chandra Swar and wife Surya Swar.

Those who follow the saying ‘early to bed and early to rise’ are seen in good health.

9. Thoughts :

Always be cheerful and happy. This will help your thoughts to be more positive. Negative thoughts result in negative attitude towards life which may be much harmful. One can not change whatever has already happened. Also one can not predict the future right now. So always try to live in presentense. Enjoy this very moment. This will certainly help a lot to maintain your good health, as healthy body and healthy mind go together.

Good habits make the life worth living.

युक्ताहार विहारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कर्मसु।
युक्तस्वप्नावबोधस्य योगो भवति दु:खहा॥

Yuktahara Viharasya Yukta Cheshtasya Karmasu, Yukta Swapnavabodhasya Yogo Bhavati Dukhaha.
Moderation in food, work, sleep and rest makes a person always happy and such a person is called a ‘yogi’.