Simple ways to living a longer, healthier life
The Holy Grail of Eternal Youth is not as elusive as we think. These five experts have made life changes to improve their own lives, and explain how the keys to unlocking and maintaining your best life are right within and around you.
Kanchana Moodliar, 34
Entrepreneur, yoga advocate and founder of the philanthropic venture Saris for Good Karma, Kanchana Moodliar was looking for answers to a better life, and decided to make a real change when she was thrown 500m from her car in a horrific car crash, back in 2003. In hospital for two-and-a-half months, and going through intense rehabilitation (including yoga), she realised she had finally found her answer.
How is yoga healing?
I won’t call myself a yoga master, but rather a yogi, who is a person who is present. When you are inhaling and exhaling, you are infusing the physical, mental and spiritual realms of yourself and the universe.
Yoga is the only thing you do where it is you and the mat, so the meditative quality about the practice is healing in itself. In this day and age, people have forgotten how to be alone. Not lonely, but alone. That means doing things from a place of reactivity and not from proactivity. I am also a student at the St James School of Philosophy.
Is diabetes the secret killer?
The book I’ve co-authored, called You Can Be Sugar Free – Indians vs Diabetes, explains how stress, genetic predisposition, diet and sedentary lifestyles are all major causes of this progressive disease. My background as a life coach, yoga instructor and philosopher greatly assisted with making the issue easy to read, about how to educate others.
Stress is one of the biggest causes of diabetes. People don’t understand how easy it is to de-stress. Money/health problems are not involved in this process. Yoga is about living in the moment. Living in bliss is to be in the present. It is the simple practice of breathing in and out. Channelling the mind into positivity is the biggest aspect in taking care of the disease.
Follow her @kanchmoodliar on Twitter.
Ramesh Ramkumar, 57
Colon hydro therapist, author and speaker Ramesh Ramkumar first began his search for enlightenment and good health in 1993 when, diseased, divorced, angry and confused about life, he left South Africa on a journey that spanned three years, backpacking through several countries in the East. Suffering from a range of illnesses including psoriasis, arthritis and bronchitis, he was drawn to studying numerous alternative health modalities, philosophies, cultures and meditation.
The culmination of his travels and learning gave birth to the highly lauded book Being Human, and the launch of the Being Human Detox Centre in 1998, which has helped to heal many.
Why colon cleansing?
Disease fragments a person. The poisons in the body show the lost faith in the person, due to their inability to deal with their illnesses effectively. All disease comes from one source, which is toxic waste in the body. The most common ailment in South Africa, as it is globally, is the addiction to junk. Stress is the most common complaint. It is simply an inability to understand how the mind works.
You say the blood never lies?
Our bodies are made up of 20 litres of biochemicals. The blood and lymph fluid is the life source for the immune system. The junk that the human body has become accustomed to is the reason why people are disgruntled. According to a statistic from
Dr Bernard Jensen, more than 95% of the world’s population lives in disease, misery and medication dependency.
Practical tips to growing younger and living longer:
- Before you eat or drink, ask yourself if it is from the tree or the factory.
- People are in a rush. Chew your food until you can drink it.
- When nature calls, find a way to answer as soon as possible. We are the only species alive to put it off until nature shouts in 10 different languages.
Noori Siddiqui, 54
A picture of serene spirituality, emotional stress therapist/coach, and TV and radio personality Noori Siddiqui went through an intensely challenging period of personal strife, discovering a cancerous tumour in her late 30s. In studying many healing modalities, she overcame the cancer without chemotherapy or radiation. She believes in employing what she has termed a “soulistic” approach to healing, rather than a “holistic” approach, and runs a wellness retreat in Cape Town during the summer months.
How did you seek out teachers to help you to understand self-development better? In searching for answers to living and being healthy and well, both in mind and body, I got the chance to interview many great minds, such as Dr John Demartini (international human behaviourist and inspirational speaker), Patrick Holford (author of over 30 bestselling books on nutrition and wellness), sufi masters, doctors, environmentalists, scientists, politicians, naturopaths and many more.
How does a person deal with emotional stress? Emotions determine the spiritual connection one has with oneself – if there is a “disconnect” from the sprit. For example, if you are sad, you trace that energy back to where you should be. Divinity comes from your source energy, and staying aware or in your connectedness is key.
It is important to stay in our hearts rather than in our heads. Being in our heads means we believe a certain concept or idea and that could translate into trying to convince ourselves. Being in our hearts means knowing and being unconditional. There is no right or wrong, beginning or end.
Does religion play a major role in spirituality?
Religion provides a structure of rituals, and creates awareness of consequences of right and wrong action, for which remembrance of the divine facilitates connectedness. The foundation of spirituality is pure love.
Cindy Pivacic, 55
Finding out, at the age of 46, that she was HIV-positive, from a partner who already knew he was positive but didn’t say anything, HIV-positive speaker, activist and author Cindy Pivacic says she didn’t suffer with depression, but decided to get educated and go public with her status after six years of living with the virus. At 55, her CD4 count is 1016, which is classified as a healthy, well woman. The most important factor to which she can attribute this healthy way of living with the virus is a positive mindset. Her book The Deadly Seducer aims to help people to understand the virus and to realise its impact on society.
Making a positive out of a positive
Stress is always a trigger for a drop in the CD4 count. The normal levels for a woman are between 500 and 1 700. The levels for a man are between 400 and 1 600. Stop stressing and start living. If you become aware of your positive status, eat well and in moderation, remain steadfastly positive in mind and spirit, and create awareness to lessen the stigma.
How did the shaved head and henna tattoo of an Aids ribbon come about? This initiative is all part of getting the message out there and creating awareness about HIV/Aids. It started in 2008 when I had to get chemo for cancer and I had to shave my head. In the last two years, I decided to henna-tattoo the Aids ribbon onto the back of my shaved head. Not only does it stop people in their tracks at talks and workshops I conduct, but it leaves a lasting impression about HIV/Aids.
What’s the deal if an HIV-positive person chooses to sleep with another HIV-positive person without protection? People living with HIV/Aids are their own worst enemies. If we don’t speak about it, we are perpetuating the stigma. I have often been asked if sleeping with an HIV-positive person without protection is fine, since both partners are infected. This is NOT fine. The virus strengthens itself when people reinfect themselves, and the virus continues to grow and feed off the host, which are the cells, until there is nothing left.
Marcina Maharaj, 29
Marcina Maharaj could easily pass for an 18-year-old, but the 29-year-old mother of two did not feel this fabulous after the birth of her second child: 30kg overweight, an emergency C-section, and feeling overwhelmed and uninspired, she decided to take her life back, and consequently launched the Health Alliance – a health and wellness centre which employs a holistic approach can have a protective or positive effect on health – we all effective group personal training under the guidance of qualified personal trainers.
Lose the weight slowly to keep it off longer?
In my first steps to getting back my body after my second child, I wanted the secrets of Hollywood stars in getting back into shape within a month. My trainer at the time drilled it into my head that “the slower you lose weight, the longer it will stay off”. It is a mantra that I repeat to all my family, friends and clients who suffer with the same pressure. Once you get past the unrealistic idea of shedding weight quickly, and understand that good health is what you should be striving for, it becomes a natural and sustainable progression in the development of a healthy mind and body.
Weight loss? During my personal journey towards achieving a sustainable healthy lifestyle, I discovered that 37% of South Africans die of non-communicable (lifestyle) diseases such as cardiovascular disease, 30% of men are overweight or obese. It was then that I decided that I want to make a difference.
Some of your tips on how women should respect their bodies once they’ve had kids?
I fell into the same trap as most women do, comparing myself to other women. Pop culture glamourises pregnancy among the stars and shows them in all their made-up glory. A month after giving birth, they are back to their former supermodel bodies, looking better than ever. The quick-fix methods, however, do not work. Most women try all sorts of diets and weight- loss programmes, but they don’t know how their bodies work. An education is important in understanding the causes of weight gain and how weight is lost. Women who are struggling to lose weight need to be empowered – not told what to do. To achieve this, the Health Alliance together with its US partners, has developed a free online education resource called Weight Management University 101. Check it out at www.tha-wmu.com.