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 and mind. 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.
(This article was also published and featured in the Popular Lately section on elephantjournal.com)