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Have you been wondering what holistic diets and therapies there are, and what to give a try? Great! This part 2 of the Holistic Health series.
In this 3-Part Series, Here's what we'll cover:
- The Difference Between a Holistic and a Modern Diet
- 11 Kinds of Holistic Diets and Therapies (and which to choose, when)
- 4 Ways to get started with a Holistic Diet
Okay, we're going to cover a lot, here. Here we go!
This is my personal favorite because as you know, I'm obsessed with Food Energetics. Food energetics is the study of how foods affect our bodies based on how it grows in nature. And Macrobiotics is the method of combining foods in a way that balances their energies, and is the lowest stress on the body.
The idea is that if we harmonize our foods and put less stress on our bodies, we can allow our bodies to heal.
Personally, I find that macrobiotics is great for creating intuition between you and your body. I wasn't able to really understand or listen to what my body needed until I started using Macrobiotic principles.
Ayurveda is an Indian holistic approach to create balance within the mind and body by aligning oneself with nature. The belief is that disease results from an imbalance of the "doshas": vata, pitta, and kapha.
Basically, a dosha refers to your physical type, such as body frame size, body temperature, etc.
Vata corresponds with air, and may indicate a flighty nervous system, inconsistent behavior, and light-heartedness.
Pitta represents fire, and usually means a strong personality, leadership qualities, and intense emotions.
Kapha primarily represents water, exhibited in a slow, steady demeanor and strong loyalty. Although combinations are common, there is usually one dosha that is dominant.
The idea is that you want to eat foods that correspond to your Dosha in order to restore balance to your body. For example, if you tend to feel cold all the time, then drinking a warming ginger tea would suit your dosha.
The Ayurvedic approach usually includes a combination of yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, mantras, cleanses, and massaging the skin with dosha-specific oil.
The concepts behind Ayurveda and Macrobiotics are very similar, but the biggest difference is that Ayurveda has the 3 doshas. So, that affects the method of how people go about choosing foods to balance out their bodies.
Plant Based Vegan
A plant based vegan diet is where you eat whole foods and no animal products. Now, you might think of this as a modern diet as opposed to a holistic one, but the reason I'm including it is for two reasons:
First off, it's commonly believed that we take on the energy of the foods we eat. Many people who want to reconnect to their spirituality choose to avoid animal products so as to lessen the suffering of animals and to avoid taking on energy from animals who might have suffered for the purpose of becoming foods.
The second reason is because it's much easier for your body to digest foods when you avoid heavy animal products, which means that doing a plant based diet will help your body with the healing process and with optimizing your digestion.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based off of Taoism, and the idea is that everyone has an energy within their bodies called "Qi" (you can pronounce that as either "Key" or "Chi").
Just like food energetics and macrobiotics, TCM is about picking foods that will balance out your body's energy.
For example, if you have a sluggish digestive system, you'll want to avoid foods that don't stimulate circulation.
TCM practitioners also use herbal remedies to balance out the body, be it to stimulate digestion or circulation or encourage proper organ function. These natural remedies are ones that I prefer over modern medicine, because instead of fixing the symptom, it encourages our bodies to heal.
The difference between TCM and the diets listed above is that TCM is much more intricate. Also, it's not a plant-based diet meaning you'll see recommendations for animal products as well depending on your condition.
If you're a fan of macrobiotics, you can take it one step further by trying TCM as well.
I don't know a woman who isn't a fan of aromatherapy! The idea is that you want to use natural scents to help balance out your body's condition.
Some scents make you feel uplifted, such as citris or floral scents. Meanwhile, earthier scents or ones like lavender or rosemary can make us feel really calm.
Just like with the diets we were talking about above, different scents can also stimulate our body to rebalance, and also improve our moods.
Have you ever felt pain and wanted to go get a massage to get the tension rubbed out? I used to have the worst neck tension and I kept getting massages - they felt great, but I'd be stuck with the pain again the next day and felt like it was taking a toll on my wallet.
That is, until I tried acupuncture and cupping (next on the list). So, as we mentioned in TCM above, the body has energy and it's said that these energies flow in meridians.
That means that if you feel pain in one part of your body, it could be originating from a completely different part of your body because they're connected by a meridian.
With acupuncture, a practitioner will take needles and stick them into your body along these meridians and on various pressure points to stimulate a better energetic flow.
This might sound painful and not helpful in theory, but you really don't feel anything because the needles are so thin, and the stimulation is actually very powerful.
Acupuncture can help with everything from poor digestion to sleep issues to muscle tension and even to fertility. It's like a one stop shop for physical therapy.
Okay, let me preface this by saying that I'm obsessed with cupping. Basically, a practitioner (often times an acupuncturist) will take what looks like a small glass bowl/cup and light the top on fire so that there is heat inside.
Then, they stick that glass onto your body and the heat creates a suction (it's called moxibustion). What this does is it pulls up on tense muscles or blocked meridians, which allows blood to flow under the muscles.
So basically, massages are about applying pressure where as cupping is about pulling.
Ever since I tried cupping, I haven't had shoulder pain. I've done about 3 sessions in 6 months and haven't had to see a massage therapist since I'm pain-free.
You're probably more familiar with meditation, on this list. There are so many ways to perform/practice meditation, but the idea is that you're calming your mind from racing thoughts.
Some people like to practice sitting and clearing their mind for about an hour which helps alleviate stress and create clarity.
Personally, I think that the length of time you do the meditation for should correspond to how stressful you are. Meaning, if you have a stress free life, then just taking about a minute to pause and breathe and regroup might be all you need.
But if you have a crazy lifestyle (I have a client who jet-sets internationally a few times a week), then practicing for about an hour a day is helpful in getting clear on priorities.
The client I'm referring to is the most calm and friendly person I've met despite having a ridiculous amount of responsibilities. Use it as a productivity tool for success!
Reiki is another energy-healing therapy where you lie down and allow a practitioner to channel their own energy to yours, to alleviate stagnation throughout your body.
You can even do it to yourself - for example, when simply placing your hands on your lower stomach while relaxing, you can feel your own energy and warmth from your hands calm your stomach.
Taichi is often described as a moving form of yoga and meditation. While standing, you go through a series of what look like martial arts movements, in a very steady, controlled pace, while focusing on your breathing.
The benefits are that it really helps with alleviating anxiety and depression. The "chi" in Taichi refers to the same "Qi" I was telling you, before - about our internal energy. Going through the movements of Taichi help you hone in on your energy and become peaceful in mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga is probably also another practice that you have heard of, but you should still read on because I might say something you haven't thought of, before.
Most people think of Yoga as an exercise to stretch the body and to have some quiet time. The perks are that you don't have to do all of the moves, but listen to your body and do what you can.
But yoga goes even further than that. The idea is that throughout your practice, you want to build heat so you can energetically "burn" through trapped emotions or physical tension to bring about a mind-body connection.
Yoga isn't just about going through motions - it's about focusing on your breath and engaging your body in a way to stimulate this heat and internal energy.
One of the reaons why it's so great for busy people is that there is an emphasis on breathing. When you're in a high-paced and or stressful job, it's easy to breathe shallowly instead of deeply. Yoga is an opportunity to deepen your breathing which in itself has major health benefits.
Wow, we covered a lot!
Now, there are obviously many ways avenues you can choose for holistic health. But it can be hard to know how to transition in to any of them!