Many modern medicinal practices are derived from ancient traditions that are still as effective today as they have been for thousands of years. And yet, we often overlook these connections to older traditions. Learning about the past requires curiosity about long-existing practices like yoga, meditation and what, exactly, Ayurvedic medicine and diet might be like.
Practices worked in civilization from thousands of years ago can work now, combining ancient wisdom with modern perspectives. Here, we take a look at a handful of ancient self-care practices that, specifically, can reduce anxiety and stress.
We’re all familiar with modern yoga, but the practice originated in India over 5000 years ago and, according to a story from Johns Hopkins University, has benefited people ever since. Yoga can strengthen the body and the mind equally and is a great way to stay flexible and strong in both body and mind while relieving stress. Yoga’s focus on breathing and awareness of the breath and body separate it from many other forms of exercise, providing an array of benefits.
Massage takes us back to India again, where it was first recorded as a practice 5,000 years ago, according to the Florida Academy, a career college with a massage therapy program. Massage is another natural healing method that can heal the body while relaxing the mind. A practice with multiple techniques for kneading and soothing muscles, massage can help with muscle recovery, loosening stiff joints and relieving both physical and emotional tension.
India is also the origin of the early records of meditation. According to Psychology Today, the first art depicting people meditating dates from as far back as 5,000 BCE in the Indus River Valley. Over time, almost every major world religion, including Christianity, Islam and Judaism, adopted forms of meditation as a religious practice. According to Time Magazine, meditation has been proven to lower our heart rate, expand lung capacity and can even produce brain waves that are beneficial for sleep. Healthline also cited research in a recent article suggesting meditation can reduce stress, control anxiety, reduce age-related memory loss, and help combat addictions. (Try combining a meditation specific playlist and explore the benefits of meditation and music.)
The earliest documents referencing acupuncture come from China, according to an article published in Rheumatology Journal. In theory, acupuncture serves to bring blood and nutrients to the locations that they’re needed in the body. Researchers still don’t fully understand the scientific reasons why acupuncture works, but research cited by Johns Hopkins has proven it can have positive benefits.
It’s impossible to narrow down a single origin point for prayer, but what we do know is that it is highly beneficial, as outlined by CNN. Prayer is a great way to increase your connection with whatever you need to have in your life. Traditionally this connection is focused on a deity, but others pray to the universe, or fortune, or to whatever suits them. Faith healing is a practice going back thousands of years and still practiced today around the world. The act itself is beneficial to your mental and physical wellbeing due to its stress-reducing capabilities. You can also practice fixing your relationships with others and yourself with these Buddhist mantras.
Breathwork is another great example of an ancient healing technique widely used today. Breathwork can be traced to ancient practices like Tai Chi and Yoga according to GoodTherapy.org, and its benefits are manifold. One advantage of breathwork is that it’s an easy yet powerful way to practice self-care that can allow people to reduce their stress levels quickly and independently.
Skin care was all the rage as far back as the ancient Egyptians, which CNN describes.They used natural treatments made of milk, berries, honey, and other ingredients to help their skin stay healthy as long as possible. They even had various forms of makeup to help them to look and feel their best.
Finally, Ayurvedic medicine is another approach with roots in ancient India. In an explainer from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Ayurvedic medicine is a system that relies on a natural and holistic approach to physical and mental health and wellness. It’s an extremely rich and detailed tradition, but there are a few simple approaches we can borrow from it at home.
How to use ayurvedic medicine:
The technique of purifying your mouth with natural oil is known as oil pulling. Swish oil around in your mouth to pull out debris or bacteria. This is a great way to help fight cavities and bad breath. Sesame oil was the traditional oil used in this practice, but coconut oil also works well. It’s one of the best natural remedies there is when it comes to dental hygiene. A story from Life Goals Magazine details this practice and its origins in Ayurvedic medicine.This was a great way for people to achieve dental health before modern technology was available.
Ayurvedic health systems also used dry brushing, the practice of brushing skin with dry bristles, for a variety of benefits. Dry brushing stimulates the body from outside. It can stimulate your lymphatic system, help tone muscle, reduce cellulite and improve circulation while relieving stress.
Abhyanga or Self-Massage
Abhyanga, or self-massage, is a massage technique in which one massages their own muscles. This practice is excellent for relieving stress and muscle tension throughout the body and head by slowly massaging oil (sesame is typically used) into your body. Yet another practice from the Ayurvedic health system, it’s a simple one we can continue to benefit from, particularly in the high-stress, modern era.
All of these actions combined or just one alone can help you live longer. Now that you know some practices from Ayurvedic medicine, how do you think you will implement them?
Yoga can strengthen the body and the mind equally and it’s a great way to stay flexible and strong while relieving stress. Yoga’s focus on breathing and awareness of the breath and body separate it from many other forms of exercise, providing an array of other benefits.
Prayer is a great way to increase your connection with whatever you need to have in your life. Traditionally this connection is with a deity, but others pray to the universe, or luck, or to whatever suits them.
Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic practice that involves brushing skin with dry bristles to stimulate the body from the outside. It can stimulate your lymphatic system, help tone muscle, remove cellulite, and improve circulation while relieving stress. Now that you know what the Ayurvedic diet is, you can see if integrating into your life is a good choice.