PRANA on Body Wisdom

by Celeste Nelson

True fitness begins with body wisdom

What does one have to do to find a simple solution to being healthier for once and for all? It seems that yoga, veganism and meditation are the holy grails of health and fitness. But what about those who just don’t relate to the urban holistic health sub-culture? Because, let’s face it, Western yoga is intense for people who are generally not physically active. Swimming or crossfit training may certainly intimidate some. And what about all this veganism-raw-foodism-paleo-gluten-free diet talk? There’s no doubt that being healthier means committing to something, but what? I say health begins with an intention as simple as getting to know your own body, because body wisdom translates to self-love.

Physical features carry family history

Body wisdom begins by embracing what you have. The time is now to appreciate your looks for better or for worse. Instead of comparing your looks to actors, fashion icons and music video dancers, turn to your family roots for reference. In my case, I was never too fond of my facial profile and envied those with pronounced jaw lines and picture perfect faces. But when I looked at my paternal grandmother and my own father’s face, I saw the fine delicate features that my face is made up of too. 

Truthfully, the perfect body is yours and mine, and the bodies of the men and women who ride the city bus and walk on the streets. Genes carry the history of our ancestors. By associating features of your own body to present relatives or family members from a distant past, you not only nurture your social identity and self-acceptance, but it reminds you that you are part of a tribe that is your family with a unique story that defines your collective psyche and physiognomy. 

Read your cravings

From craving chips to pulled pork and French pastries, our bodies also crave for things we actually need if you let it guide you. Like when you feel the need to be hugged or want a little silence or some sunshine. The other day, I bought some carrot juice at the grocery store and when I told my partner my body was craving beta-carotene, he bursted out laughing. But that’s how the body rolls. 

The body has the ability to associate specific foods with the molecular nutrients they provide. For the body, a banana is not a banana, but a source of potassium, acai juice is not acai juice but a source of antioxidants, and so-on. If you do crave less-than-nutritious foods daily, or maybe you find yourself eating more, and for some of us, less than what we really need, chances are you have entered a vicious cycle that you can also exit. 

Ancient science is good for modern humans 

One type of approach to health and fitness that I feel our Western culture stands to gain from is the ancient Hindu system of medicine called, ayurveda, which means life knowledge in Sanskrit. According to ayurvedic medicine, humans are made up of 3 basic doshas that are specific types of bodily predispositions. An ayurvedic practitioner can determine your body type based on characteristics like the texture and color of your hair, eyes and skin, how your body manifests stress, your natural smell and your digestive tendencies. We are all made up of the 3 doshas but our dominant dosha will determine the foods that best serve our body’s constitution. 

The interesting part about ayurveda is that we are governed by its principles whether we realize it or not. Before I ever knew about ayurveda, I had always been drawn to fresh herbs like basil and cilantro or vegetables like fennel and celery, and interestingly enough, I found out that these foods are amongst the most balancing for my ayurvedic body type. This is where one can understand that the body has a tremendous amount of wisdom beyond what we are able to perceive at the surface level. So next time you crave a specific type of food, see what your body is truly asking for. For example, if you are constantly craving sugar, this may be that the body needs more deep green vegetables or water, simply. 

Eat, sleep, then exercise

There is a general misconception that people who work out are healthier. But frankly, someone might be going to the gym regularly and at the same time lacking sleep and eating poorly. You have to make priorities when addressing health holistically—the food you eat and the amount of sleep you get are good places to begin. Because nutrition and proper rest are the pillars of a healthy body. Of course, exercise, finding creative outlets, caring for your family, performing professionally and having a social life can enhance your experience on this earth. But when you are absolutely overwhelmed by your schedule and have no time to think about how the food you’re eating affects you on a molecular level, then this is one way to deplete your immunity and overall joy of living. 

Eating nutritious foods that are easy to digest combined with a good amount of rest will keep your immunity up and your energy levels steady. Once you engage with your body’s wisdom, simply observe your diet and need to rest, then you can think of taking your health to the next level and engage in some form of physical activity. 

3 actions to cultivate body wisdom 

Don’t worry too much about not knowing what is good and not so good for the body, instead just focus on observing how your body reacts to specific foods and life situations so you can get to know yourself better and understand what it is telling you. Body wisdom can be cultivated by:

• practicing self-acceptance; Tweet it!

• observing food cravings as indicators of physical and mental states;

• prioritizing foods that are easy to digest, mental rest and sleep.

Cultivating your body wisdom is about patient observation and understanding. Forget about what others are doing to get healthy and fit around you and start by loving what you have. 

Celeste Nelson
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Celeste Nelson

With big love for the ocean, forests and mountains, Celeste seeks to find balance between work and play. She runs Moonlight Writing, a written corporate communications agency with offices wherever the wind takes her. On her free time, she works with kids, researches on new educational models for the youth and happily writes to spark conversation around what it means to lead a more balanced life where body and mind coalesce.

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