Why Should We Bother Taking Care of Our Bodies?

Via on Jun 19, 2014

body skin

Yesterday my boyfriend walked in on me performing my morning routine.

Not expecting to find me sitting on the bathroom floor massaging oil all over my body, he was surprised when I revealed that this self-massage is something I do every morning, preceded by a cup of hot water and oil pulling, and followed by asanas and pranayama.

“Wow, you really take care of yourself”, was his comment.

“It’s my job,” I replied. And it’s true. I’m a firm believer that the body is a temple. It houses the mind—for which we must also take great care—and most importantly, it houses the spirit, our soul, our true essence.

The body is really a tool and our chance at spiritual growth. With it, we are able to develop the mind and nourish the soul so that we can evolve as spiritual beings. And as we’ve been born into a human body, we’ve been gifted the opportunity to experience the joys of life, and even each other.

We should treat our bodies as temples, remembering that they’re not forms to be abused, but houses for something much more sacred and everlasting. We must keep our individual temples clean. We have to be careful what we put inside of the temple, and we have to give the temple love and attention when it needs repair work.

Yoga practice exemplifies this bodily self-care.

One of the earliest stages of classical yoga is asana, in which we work to make the physical body healthy and strong. A daily asana practice is kind of like temple up-keep, ensuring that all body parts work as they’re meant to. That way, there’s no threat of ill health to get in the way of deeper mind and soul work down the line.

Ayurveda takes bodily self-care a step further, giving us many practices that we can do to maintain or achieve a healthy body. Ayurveda even advocates a daily routine of self-care.

In the long run, the ultimate goal of these practices is to have a body so healthy that one can achieve the four aims of life or purusharthas: dharma, living one’s life purpose; artha, the prosperity and wealth needed to live; kama, enjoyment or pleasure; and moksha, spiritual liberation. None can be attained without a healthy physical body.

That being said, be mindful of how you treat your body. The way in which you treat your body affects your mind and subtly affects your soul.

Feed your body with wholesome, nourishing food. Feed your body with wholesome, nourishing thoughts. Surround your physical body with positive, uplifting people and a positive atmosphere. Regularly practice some yoga or exercise to keep the body parts in working order. Take up some aspects of an Ayurvedic daily routine to maintain bodily health.

Treat the body as the gift and temple that it is, so that while you’re in it you’re able to enjoy this life and evolve as a spiritual being.

 

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Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: Mysi/Flickr

About Julie Bernier

Julie Bernier brings the ancient practices of authentic Indian hatha yoga and Ayurveda to her students. A certified hatha yoga teacher, Ayurvedic Wellness Educator, and nature-loving gypsy, Julie teaches students how to use yoga to its full potential in her eBook Yoga for Health and Happiness, and she decodes India’s timeless knowledge of wellness for Westerners on her blog Peaceward Yoga. Julie first found yoga in California and has since taken it with her on some very long and far-flung travels, practicing on whatever flat surfaces she found…from the beaches of the Galapagos Islands to the jungles of Sumatra, and the rooftops of Himalayan houses to the bustling city parks of Bangkok. She explored yoga’s real roots while studying in India and teaching in the foothills and high villages of the Himalayas, and strives to keep her yoga “old school.” Connect with Julie on Instagram. 

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6 Responses to “Why Should We Bother Taking Care of Our Bodies?”

  1. Lisa says:

    This isn't how I thought the article would go when I clicked on it. My father just recently passed away and he didn't take care of his body at all.

    " The way in which you treat your body affects your mind and subtly affects your soul" says it all. He was a heavy smoker for nearly 60 years until the fear of imminent death caused him to quit. Even until near the end and suffering from type II diabetes which required insulin injections, he would ask me to bring him donuts and coffee with sugar. He was even in denial that the smoking negatively affected his body although he was on oxygen 24/7.

    He was a miserable person, physically, emotionally and spiritually. His physical being was a manifestation of his dissatisfaction with his life (none of which was his responsibility).

    His is definitely a cautionary tale. Don't let this happen to you. YOU are the master of your own destiny. YOU are the one in control of your own life.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Lisa. I am sorry to hear about your father.
      You are very right- you are the master of your own destiny. Taking responsibility for the physical body is the first step in caring for mind and soul.

  2. Joe Sparks says:

    My father very similar story, right to the very end of his life, he couldn't stop smoking. His parents were immigrants, he grew up during depression , soldier WWII. These factors and cultural conditioning and lack of information made it almost impossible for him to think well of his body. Men general speaking live about 6-8 years less than women. Internalized stres and lack of emotional understanding creates addictive behaviors in men. We have been conditioned to numb ourselves to avoid feeling less than "male." Men will start caring for themselves when we as a society allow boys to be human and stop telling little boys to grow up, because big boys don't cry! My father's inability to feel his feelings shortened his lifespan. He had no choice but to " stuff down his feelings" because our culture has very little slack for men who don't.

    • Thanks Joe for sharing. Let's hope that things change for men as our society becomes more conscious and aware. I feel that it's happening, albeit slowly, and platforms like elephant journal where people can connect on a deeper level is a big help.

  3. Yoga says:

    So very true. Thank you for the reminder.

  4. nikki says:

    Great article..interested in learning more about how to do this morning routine?

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