It has been five years since I started using tennis balls for self-massage. I use it for my foot and back. The other parts of the body can also be massaged using balls. But I use a foam roller for a full body massage. As it takes lesser time.
The idea of using tennis balls is similar to using a foam roller. Your body weight acts against the ball leading to a strong push against your muscles. This relaxes your muscles and massages it.
Using a tennis ball is similar to a massage therapist giving you a deep rub. The acupressure points are also excited by this leading to a great relaxation.
For my back, I place the balls under my buttocks and keep moving them upwards slowly. The ball can be placed for a few seconds to a few minutes depending on how much you can tolerate it. I end the balls under my neck.
Many times I fall asleep when the balls reach the middle of my back. Sometimes, even when the balls are under my lower back. It is so relaxing.
Remember to place the balls slightly away from your spine (backbone). They should be placed under muscles, not under any bones.
You should start with tennis balls as they are soft. Gradually with your level of comfort, you may replace them with harder balls. I am using harder balls for the past three years.
This is an economical way of massaging yourself anytime during the day. You need to invest in two balls for a few years.
Another benefit is that it is space efficient and movable. You may carry it anywhere you want. It won’t take up much space.
This is also time efficient. All it takes is 2 minutes for your foot and 5-10 minutes for your back. Try it yourself and reap the benefits. Don’t forget to share this with others. Let others benefit as well.
Let me tell you I am a non-vegetarian. But over time I have reduced my intake of animal diet to a bare minimum. My goal is to become a vegan.
I have nothing against non-veg diet. It’s just that it’s not healthy. It is definitely nutritious but not healthy.
There is a difference between being healthy and being nutritious. People end up saying but animal diet has protein. Yes, they are right. But so does your hair and nail. In fact, the amount of protein that you can get from hair and nail is way more than you get from an animal diet. But we don’t end up consuming them.
It’s about what our body can absorb easily. Easy is the important term here. Plant diet is easily digested and absorbed by our body. But not an animal diet.
Our digestive system is huge and complex. Whatever we consume goes through a long process of digestion. It requires a lot of energy to break down food and digest it. That’s why after eating, a lot of blood rushes towards the abdomen and we feel sleepy.
If we have a lot of animal diet, then our body will take a lot of time to digest food. This will leave little time for the blood to act in other areas of the body.
The flow of the blood throughout the body is essential. It shouldn’t devote more time to a certain place.
Let us talk about the plant diet. If we have a variety of fruits and vegetables in our diet, then we will get the necessary amount of protein we need. A plant diet gives us the necessary nutrients that are required by our body.
We may look at the herbivores (plant-eating animals). Are they not strong enough? Do they lack growth?
The protein we all like to talk about in animal diet is too much for our body. Our body can handle only a limited amount. What’s the point of putting in more effort in trying to digest protein that our body will just flush out as waste?
Many research will suggest otherwise. You don’t have to listen to them. Rather listen to your body. Try out different diets and see how your body reacts. Let your body decide what to do, not some businessmen with an approval from the food regulators.
I started using a foam roller for self-massage six years ago. I am still using the same one after all these years. It cost me 1900 rupees (~$28). It was the best investment I made in my life.
Prior to using this, I used to see a massage therapist once a week. I had to stop using his service because of a foam roller. If people start behaving like me, then the massage therapists of the world would be unemployed. So please refrain from what I did.
The first time was difficult. I had to move the foam roller under different parts of my body. My muscles were hurting the next day. I wasn’t sure about using it. I doubted my decision.
I continued using it and got used to it in four days.
A foam roller looks like this:
This is used for deep myofascial massage. It helps loosen up the muscle fibers in your body. It feels like a massage therapist is applying a tremendous amount of pressure on you.
The best thing is that this is only a one-time investment. And the returns are huge. Even after six years it is working fine and delivering its purpose.
Looking back at my childhood, I used to suffer from common cold throughout the year. The frequency was such that the kids at school started making fun of me. Even my family had a hard time digesting the fact.
I was suffering from sinusitis. I always had trouble breathing. It was so bad sometimes that I had to breath through my mouth. My family used to tell me to close my mouth but how could I. It was difficult. I had to breathe somehow.
So I consulted various doctors. They asked me to go for X-Rays and take medicines. Nothing helped. Medicines hardly ever do.
This went on for the first 17 years of my life. Then my uncle came to the rescue with his magic trick.
He told me about the Neti pot and to do Jal Neti with it.
This is what a Neti pot looks like.
The process involves the following steps:
You put lukewarm water and a pinch of salt in it.
Tilt your head sideways.
Insert the pipe into one of your nostrils.
Open your mouth and breath.
Let the water come out of the other nostril.
Repeat the process on the other side.
Believe me. This is his magic trick. Just this act of a minute a day cured my sinusitis. My misery of common cold, cough, and headaches was reduced to a standstill. I was liberated.
All it took was a few days to see the change. And my condition improved drastically over a period of six months.
Now I don’t know what sinusitis feels like. No doctor was able to help me with it. When I told a doctor about this, he started laughing at my face and called it a regressive act not meant for modern society.
I don’t want to comment on what all these doctors did or didn’t do. But they failed miserably.
I am giving you this advice to try this technique if you are suffering from any one of the following:
Irritation in the nasal passage
Remember to always clean the Neti pot. And use clean water that you drink.
You may find the pot in a drug store or online retailers.
There are no side effects. It’s completely safe. I have heard some people using it for more than six years. And I am one of them.
I even tricked my mother into using it for the past few months. Even she is reaping the benefits. It’s time that you start reaping the benefits too. It only takes a minute.
I want to remind you that the first few days will be difficult. It will be a bit painful. The water may not come out of the other nostril. But you keep at it. Two of my friends started this and they stopped after one try. The said it didn’t work for them.
How would it work? If you don’t let it work for you. You need patience. As I say any change in behavior takes time. This will also take time. Eventually, you will get used to it. Just try it for a week and then tell me about your experience.
Fitness is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Not boring and inevitable. It is supposed to be a part of our lives. If you feel good, you will do good in life.
There is a lot of information on the internet about fitness. Everyone seems to have their own idea of the best one can possibly do to keep oneself fit. Some recommend gymnasium as the ultimate heaven for fitness. While others consider yoga to be supreme. Sports enthusiasts will definitely talk about their sports which keeps them fit.
Everyone is right when it comes to themselves. But what is right when it comes to you? What is the best for you? Only you can answer this.
There is no good or bad thing one can do for fitness. It all depends on one’s interest.
If you like something, then you are likely to continue with it.
Let me give you my experience of going to the gym.
The first time I went to the gym was at the age of 17. The trainer just told me to do some exercises. When I asked him, “How?” he told me to look at how others are doing it and learn from them.
The next day onwards I stopped going to the gym. My whole body was aching. I was in a bad shape. I lifted weights instead of focusing on my posture and the movement. I hated the gym.
Again I started with the gym after four years at the age of 21. I stopped after three months. I couldn’t continue it because I didn’t enjoy it. It was painful.
I started going to the gym again two years ago. This was just for two months. I tried this ‘On and Off’ thing. It never worked for me.
So I decided to play some sports to keep myself fit. And this worked. I played badminton and basketball in the morning. This kept me fit and I enjoyed it as well.
Now I have started the gym again after some research and understanding of the exercises. I like it now and hope to continue.
The learning from my experience is that you may try different things and do what works for you. You don’t need to listen to others.
I used to hear people asking me to swim for good health and physique. I tried and it was horrible. I didn’t like it at all. So I stopped.
It’s better to do something you enjoy and stick with it than to start something you don’t like and then stop. Go for anything physical activity that makes you sweat.
All of us face a challenge in staying away from food that is not good for us. The reasons might be the taste, the peer pressure, the habit, the marketing by various brands and the list goes on.
We secretly hope that we will get rid of the habit one day. We will avoid it at all costs. We spend money on it and ruin our health. Still, we can’t live without it.
We even take resolutions from time to time. We avoid it for a few days or weeks. But we go back to our previous habit. Because habits are not easy to break. They are permanent. They are a part of who we are.
It’s a good thing that in case of food, you don’t need to stop altogether unless you really want to or have to.
I am sharing a simple trick that I experimented on myself. And it worked. You may try the same and see if it works for you.
Let me give you the story of my earlier failed attempts and why I decided to try this trick.
What I did was I decided to stop drinking coffee. Because it is not good for health. Now you may say: I need my morning cup of bliss. It is all right. I want the same thing. But my health comes first. At least in the case of coffee.
Coffee is my favorite drink. So it was a very difficult decision to stop having it.
I tried several times but failed. This went on for three years. My friends started mocking me. I found my failed attempts shameful. So I stopped discussing it with anyone.
I tried different psychological tricks to avoid it. Whenever I drank it, I thought of all the bad things it was doing to me. It didn’t help.
I told my mother to shout at me and curse me when she saw me with coffee. It didn’t help. I even asked her to take away my coffee and have it herself. But she prefers tea to coffee.
I tried and I failed. But I did not give up.
I decided to make a pilgrimage to Starbucks once a month to have a Grande version of Americano. Let me relish the bitter taste of coffee I enjoy so much. Let it be an expensive and wonderful experience. Let me have premier coffee just once a month. And that will be all. I won’t be having coffee at home or anywhere else. It will be Starbucks once a month. Period.
It has been four months and I am still sticking with this routine.
Notice how a simple trick helped me limit and enjoy the food that I love. Just because I care about my health.
We all have to make sacrifices. So let us make a sacrifice where it matters the most: our health. Any change in behavior leading to a habit is a slow process. So give it time. Don’t rush into it. The aim should be to achieve the goal in some weeks or months.
The above is just an example. I am looking forward to doing the same with tea. Make it a once a month only routine.
What this ‘Once a month’ does is it makes you cherish each and every moment of consumption. You take something in good quantity like I have about 450 ml of coffee which is quite a lot at one go. After having a large quantity, the kind of feeling you get is something which you look for the next 30 days. It makes you excited about the prospect of having your drink which you love. The happiness in this is unparalleled. You will never get this feeling if you have the same thing each day. Trust me.
‘Once a month’ worked for me. Maybe it won’t work for you. You try different things and iterate the technique which works for you. It may be anything.
You may even try using the social method. This will make you tell everyone around you what you are about to do. So people will actually keep you on your toes. In order to not let them down, you will keep your word. You will behave rationally or at least try your best. In the process, you may succeed.
And guess what. Who benefits from this? Not the people you informed about your resolution or promise. But You!
Most of us have suffered from neck aches. I used to have it at least once a week. The stiffness in the neck after waking up was making it difficult to move it from side to side. Sometimes I couldn’t move it at all. I missed school for a number of days each month. I needed help.
I went to see a bonesetter. I told him the issue with my neck and asked him if there is a problem with my neck.
He told me that my neck is fine. But my use of a pillow is not.
I didn’t understand him. How can a pillow lead to frequent neck aches? He explained this to me.
It went like this…
We were born without a pillow. It is not in our nature to use a pillow. It is a man-made thing. It is artificially injected into our systems to use a pillow. But it has no use to us.
Our spinal curve is such that our back will be in alignment with our neck when we put our head down while sleeping. The lowering of the neck is a part of this process. It is natural.
But we mess with our nature. We mess with our body requirements. This leads to an imbalance and hence neck aches.
This made sense. But it was difficult to digest.
I spent the first 17 years of my life using a pillow. And now this person tells me not to use it. How am I supposed to do that?
He told me that it will take me a week or two to get used to it. But my neck will forever thank me. Also, it will help with my back pain.
Along with this, he told me to use a hard surface to sleep. I asked why.
He again talked about the natural alignment of the spine when we lie down. And using a soft surface messes with it.
So first I need to remove the pillow from my bed and now change the mattress too.
His consultation fee may be economical but his advice wasn’t. I had to bear the charge of a new mattress.
But he told me to sleep on the floor. He does the same. He just uses a thin mat.
He may be a saint but I am not. This is too much. I came back home with a confused mind. My father told me to forget what he said. But I couldn’t.
I decided to follow his guidelines against the wishes of my family.
The first night: I couldn’t sleep.
It was so painful. A hard surface complemented with no pillow. But I persisted.
I kept at it for two weeks until I finally got a peaceful sleep.
From then on, I am using a hard mattress without any pillow. And it feels natural. I never had a neck ache since then. My back pain also subsided.
I found a way out of this mess. You can too. Just try this technique. This is a simple lifestyle change. Give it a few days and you are set for a peaceful sleep for life.