Wellness

Four alternative health practices you need to try

From alternate nostril breathing to dry brushing, find out how these techniques keep you healthy and balanced.

Body Brushing

Photo, Istock.

You’ve likely heard the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and while it’s true that eating well is a great way to promote health, these less-common techniques are great daily additions. When done in conjunction with the other elements of health (think sleep, nutrition, and exercise) they’ll improve your energy and boost your mood.

1. Dry skin brushing
Your skin is your body’s largest organ and one of its main detoxification channels. Your lymphatic system, in the meantime, removes excess fluid and waste from your cells and delivers fat-soluble vitamins from your food throughout your body. Sometimes your skin and lymph system need a boost to do their job more effectively, and because your lymph system doesn’t have a pump (like your blood does with your heart), it relies on the motions of your muscles to keep it moving. A few minutes of dry skin brushing in the morning will stimulate the lymph system, exfoliate your skin, open up your pores and encourage cell renewal.

Method: Step into the shower stall with your body brush, but don’t turn on the water yet. Using strokes or vigorous circles, start at your feet and brush in the direction of your heart. Spend a little extra time on rough areas and on cellulite to help improve circulation.

2. Tongue scraping
This detoxifying Ayurvedic ritual is thought to not only reduce your toxic load, but make your pearly whites healthier, reduce bad breath, and make your green smoothies taste even yummier! The scraping action removes bacteria and buildup from your tongue. You can purchase a tongue scraper at most health and drugstores, but in a pinch, the back of a spoon works just fine.

Method: Do this first thing in the morning before brushing your teeth or drinking water. Reach the scraper to the back of your tongue and scrape it forward, dragging the film to the front of your tongue. Spend about 60 seconds doing this. Ensure that you scrape all the film into the sink and rinse your scraper well.

3. Oil cleansing
Welcome to your new favourite part of the day! Wash away the day’s worries and grime with something you already have in your pantry! The best part of this ritual is that it’s good for every skin type — even oily skin — because, as we learned in chemistry class, like dissolves like. Conventional cleaners strip your face of oils, which then causes your skin to overreact by creating more oil, leading to clogged pores, black and whiteheads, acne and irritation. It can take a couple of days for your face to realize that you’re showing it love after a long relationship with toxic products — but trust us, you’ll have a healthy glow in no time.

Method: Choose your oil (this website explains the best oil for your skin type) and massage it into your skin for two minutes, with a focus on areas with extra makeup. To amp things up you can reflect on your day and do some deep-belly breathing while you massage the oil. Run a washcloth under warm water and then apply it on your face, creating a steam effect. Allow the cloth to rest on your face until it’s cool, and then remove the oil. Let your skin air dry, and then apply extra oil below the eyes, on the lips, neck and cuticles.

4. Nadi shodhana pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing)
Did you know that most people don’t breathe equally through both of their nostrils? Your nose is directly linked to your brain and nervous system (in fact, many ancient yogis believe that many diseases are connected to disturbances in nasal breathing). Practising a few cycles of alternate nostril breathing (pranayama) can restore imbalances in your brain and improve brain function, revitalize you, cleanse your lungs, calm an agitated mind, improve sleep, as well as regulate the cooling and warming cycles of your body.

Method: With your right hand block off your right nostril by putting gentle pressure on it with your right thumb. Inhale slowly through left nostril, pause. Now close your left nostril with your right ring finger and release thumb off right nostril. Exhale fully through your right nostril, pause, and then inhale through right nostril and pause. Release your right ring finger and again block off your right nostril with your right thumb. Breathe out through left nostril, and pause. That is one cycle of breath, and you may repeat (begin with one or two rounds and gradually increase).

Ange Peters, founder of hol-fit, is a holistic personal trainer, nutritionist and mama of two. She makes glowing health accessible to people worldwide through innovative web teaching and creative connection. Gillian Mandich is a PhD student in health and rehabilitation science with a focus on childhood obesity and physical activity. She’s a holistic nutritionist, certified yoga and Yoga Tune Up instructor and personal trainer. Together you can find them on Twitter, iTunes, Stitcher and/or their blog