A few years ago we got hold of a small swimming pool and installed it in our garden. I already knew how to look after a pool, as I have spent three summers living with Friends in Texas, where pools are essential for hot summer survival.
Keeping your pool healthy is a good metaphor for keeping your body healthy. First of all, the pool is a dynamic, moving, almost living organism (note that our pool is a standard sand-filtered, chlorine treated type – if anyone reading this blog can convert me to a more ecological one – please feel free to contact me). Second, a pool, like a human, needs regular care in order to stay clean and ‘healthy’. Thirdly, like us humans, if you neglect the maintenance part, the clean-up job is much more cumbersome, time consuming and costly than the relatively small daily prevention plan.
- Pools and humans have an active movement principle that keeps their fluids moving. Pools have pumps; humans have a cardio-vascular and lymphatic systems.
- Pools and humans have filters that constantly clean the fluids of substances that if otherwise non-eliminated would lead to problems. Pools have sand-filters; humans have the liver and kidneys.
- Pools and humans have to be able to ‘digest’ what you feed them. The more you feed a pool (human sweat, dead human skin cells, dead insects, and dead leaves), the more chlorine you need to use, and the more cleaning you need to do. Humans digest what they eat thanks primarily due to digestive enzymes. Keeping digestive enzymes plentiful, keeping them flowing, eating only when they are being secreted (when you are actually hungry); this will help you digest your food optimally. Also, keeping elimination channels operating properly, and performing occasional, regular cleansings (day-long fasts, for example), helps keep your body running free from toxins.
- In pools, algae builds-up in areas where the flow is reduced, such as corners and on the bottom, typically in the centre where there is a natural ‘dead zone’. In humans, the same is observed to some extent in that wherever there is reduced flow (either due to natural anatomical factors, gravity, or a build-up of congestion) there tends to follow pathology. For example, joints are often targeted by a build-up of internal toxins which leads eventually to arthritis. In terms of flow of blood and lymph, the joints are like roundabouts in that the protuberance of the joint means there is less space for blood and lymph channels to circulate. It follows that, if those channels are already carrying an excessive amount of wastes products or toxins, these will tend to sediment or congregate in such areas where flow is reduced. Over time, there is an impact on the health of the proximal structure, in this case the joints.
So keeping a pool clean and healthy requires a similar approach to keeping your body clean and healthy:
Rule # 1 – Keep it flowing
Pools – make sure you have a good size pump (over-sized is best) so that the flow of water through the pool and filter is optimal.
Humans – make sure you keep moving:
- Keep your body moving with daily exercise
- Keep your lungs moving with deep nose breathing
- Keep your transit (digestive tract) moving with a balanced diet high in naturally occurring plant fibre and low in highly refined foods and animal foods.
Rule # 2 – Keep the ‘digestive principle’ strong
Pools – make sure you nourish the pool’s ‘digestive principle’ by supplying enough chlorine so that it can transform (neutralise) all that stuff it is fed thus preventing bacteria and algae build-up.
Humans – make sure you keep your digestive enzymes strong by using foods that boost their function (such as spices like cumin, fennel, cardamom, black pepper) etc.
Rule # 4 – Keep the burden low
Pools – prevent overwhelming your pool’s ‘digestive capacity’ and filtration system by minimizing the amount of materials that it has to transform or deal with. Keep your pool covered when not in use; make sure people wash before going in etc.
Humans – prevent overwhelming your digestion and body by:
- Eating unpolluted, natural, wholefoods free from chemical additives.
- Eating less food, or no more than that you need to survive (difficult in this day and age as there so much good tasting food around and most of us are stressed to some extent).
- Eating only when your digestive enzymes are strong (i.e. when you are actually hungry). This means following a relatively strict eating pattern adapted to your metabolic type (2-4 meals per day). But it also means going beyond dogma and social conditioning. What’s best for me: “eat a hearty breakfast” may be detrimental to you. It depends on your metabolic type (in ayurveda: your prakriti or constitution).
Rule # 5 – Keep it clean
Pools – vacuum your pool regularly, and clean out large debris daily with a fine mesh net. Once in a while, back-flush the pump.
Humans – do maintenance cleansing by:
- Regular fasting for 1 day on simple light foods or liquids. Depending on your build and metabolic type, a day fast can be safely followed as often as once a week and as little as once a month. More often is best if you have a slow metabolism that tends towards excess, less often is best if you have a fast metabolism that means you tend naturally towards being skinny.
- Appropriate use of certain foods, substances, or medicinal plants (bitter and spicy ones typically) that tend to stimulate your body to excrete wastes and toxins more readily than normal.
Rule # 5 – Where the flow is naturally slow or compromised by gravity, lend a hand
Pools – take a brush and clean the corners of the pool so that algae etc. that start to accumulate there will be removed and put back into general circulation, most of which will either be neutralised by the chlorine or removed by the filters.
Humans – take care of problem zones with extra-preventative measures such as:
- Protect your joints and spine by regular yoga exercises and oil massage (use an oil that matches your skin type – ayurveda can help you with this).
- Protect your lower legs and feet from the effects of gravity (toxins sedimentation) by regular oil massage and inverted yoga postures.
- Protect your prostate gland (men of course!) from the effects of gravity (toxins sedimentation) by performing exercises that contract the muscles in that area (such as kegel exercises or from yoga, mula bandha) as well as inverted yoga posture.
So for those of you who care for pools, happy maintenance!