A balanced diet and daily exercise routine are crucial to a healthy mind and body. But that’s just the beginning when it comes to optimum health. Ayurveda’s timeless teachings have many lesser-known rituals that can help with things like weight loss, detoxifying the body, and improving the overall functioning of your mind, body and spirit connection, especially during pregnancy.

1. Meditation

Studies have shown that women who meditated during pregnancy lost more than half a kilogramme of belly fat and showed a huge reduction in their cortisol levels (directly linked to stress).

Meditation can include anything from conscious breathing to moving meditation or yoga. Choose the practices that resonate with you and which you can sustain over a long time. The more you perform them, the easier it will become.

Try this: Headspace, a guided meditation and mindfulness app that will help you get started.

2. Pranayama (Breathing exercises)

Deep diaphragmatic breathing increases oxygen intake and clears the lungs of carbon dioxide, providing your body with more rejuvenating energy. Deep belly breathing also massages your internal organs and promotes better digestion by improving metabolism and boosting peristalsis (muscle contractions in the digestive tract).

Try this: Kapalabhati is a popular breathing technique that uses your abdominal muscles to pull in your belly while inhaling, followed by repeated forceful (a bit gentler now that you’re carrying a child) exhalations via your mouth or nose. This is said to intensify the Agni or digestive fire and is also a nice workout for your abdomen.

3. Tongue Scraping

Tongue scraping has been proven to remove toxins on the surface of your tongue better than a toothbrush. If your taste buds are covered with unnecessary bacteria and plaque, it makes it harder for your taste buds to register the composition of the food, typically leading to going overboard on salt and loading up on sweeteners, which can indirectly result in overeating.

Try this: Place the tongue scraper as far back on your tongue as possible. Slide the scraper from the back of your tongue to the tip firmly without harming your tongue. Repeat until there’s no chalky residue to be seen on your tongue (this might take 1 to 3 mins).

4. Oil Pulling

Just like in tongue scraping, where removal of toxins and bacteria from the mouth leads to a healthier body indirectly, oil pulling can treat various illnesses, ranging from digestive disorders to heart disease.

Try this: Take 2 tablespoons of organic sesame or coconut oil and treat it like a mouthwash. After about 10 to 15 minutes of doing this, spit the oil out and rinse.

5. Massage

The amazing health benefits of a massage, including stress reduction, increased muscle tone, lowered blood pressure and increased lymphatic flow, have all lead to its popularity. Abdominal massages have even successfully shown reduced constipation and increased bowel movements.

Try this: Tell your partner to give you an Abhyanga massage with sesame or coconut oil (suggested by Ayurveda) or self-massage if that’s more convenient.

6. Sweating

Sweating includes a full-body oil massage followed by a steam. It helps the body get rid of toxins and excess water weight, while improving circulation, be it natural (while working out) or forced (sauna)

Try this: Take a hot bath and get your sweat on. Just be sure to hydrate while doing so or you might start to feel dizzy.

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