In yogic teaching there are rules for health and wellness. Niyamas are the good things you do & Yamas are the bad things you avoid. Here are some easy ways to improve your wellness!

So lets get going, what are the Yamas, the bad things you avoid?


  1. foods that are processed–the worst containing hydrogenated oils, sugar, and preservatives
  2.  diet foods and drinks; these chemicals damage your brain and may actually cause weight gain!
  3. excessive use of alcohol and recreational drugs- they damage your liver, brain and other organs
  4. overworking and excessive stress
  5. prescription medications which have side effects

Now the Niyamas or the things you can do to improve wellness!

  1. eat foods that are fresh and locally grown, organic if possible.
  2. drink pure water take your weight in pounds and drink 1/2 that amount in daily ounces (ex if you weight 150# drink 75 ounces of water) Green tea in place of too much coffee for a natural lift!
  3. do yoga and meditate! With a daily practice you won’t need to self medicate to “relax.”
  4. limit your work to 40 hours a week maximum and don’t bring it home. Exercise 1 hour a day.
  5. instead of staying hooked on prescription medications for an indefinite period of time, find a professional who can help you to find the cause for the illness and by removing the cause you can safely (with medical guidance) go off the medications.

It is interesting to me how in our culture many people, including doctors, do not realize the importance of eating healthy foods. These same people would never think of using low grade gasoline for their high performance vehicle, yet they will eat junk food, smoke, drink sodas and alcohol which are the equivalent to filling your body’s gas tank with cheap fuel!

The weekend I was interviewing at medical schools, I was in a hotel watching TV and saw a program with a doctor explaining that we really don’t need to drink water!  He said you get plenty from your food and all the obsession with staying hydrated is foolish.

I absolutely knew at that moment I had to become a naturopath to teach people the importance of nutrition.  Did you know that many joint problems and back pain can be alleviated by drinking water?  Constipation is cured with hydration and good diet not laxatives. Depression is improved with drinking water. Water is key to wellness!

Well now what constitutes good nutrition? It has become more confusing with “Health Food Stores” selling organic junk food such as Oreos, sodas, cheese puffs, and potato chips. This is still junk food, though at least it has eliminated the worst of the worst like hydrogenated oils, sugar, and preservatives.

How do we determine what good, healthy food is for us? First of all, avoid junk and fast food.  Here are some tips for staying away from unhealthy foods.

1. Know where your food comes from. When you are grocery shopping you would prefer to purchase foods which are locally grown. When eating out, it is more common to find restaurants which are “Farm to Fork” meaning the food is grown locally and is fresh not transported thousands of miles. It may not be certified “organic” but you can inquire if the farmer uses genetically modified seed, pesticides, or other chemicals.

2. Choose foods that you know what the ingredients are. Now you are choosing foods that are fresh, grown locally and hopefully without much chemical intervention. If you can just look at the food and identify what it is without the need for a label, then that is your best choice.

Once food has been processed, you will need to read the label. But you don’t need to be a PhD to know when something is real or chemical. I generally feel if there are more than 3-4 ingredients on the label you are going to skip that food/chemicals.

3. Eat for your own personal biochemistry.  I always use the blood type in determining diet for a patient. If it is affordable, food allergy testing, is very helpful and the newest is using your saliva to test for genetic reactions to foods.

What are some personal steps you take to achieve wellness? Share with us in the comments below!