As featured in Yoga Magazine: Shilajit - the Ayurvedic superfood that will strengthen, balance and energise you on and off the yoga mat
When the locals noticed that the monkeys eating a black substance seeping from the mountains, were stronger, more agile and more alert, they knew these wise creatures were onto something. Ayurvedic doctors and yogis alike began using it hundreds of years ago for its potent health-supportive and balancing properties. And now science is catching up, as we discover more and more amazing health.
Shilajit, pronounced ‘Shil-ah-jeet’, is quite literally the lifeblood of mountains. Famous throughout Indian history as a ‘rasayana’, which is Sanskrit for ‘substances that enhance overall health’, it is packed with over 85 vitamins and minerals in their ionic form (the most bioavailable form for your body) and rich in naturally occurring fulvic and humic acids. This superfood is made by the compression of plant matter under mountain rocks over millions of years. The result? A completely vegan, tar like, resinous substance that oozes from the mountains, that is strong in aroma and flavour. With health benefits that are equally as potent though, you won’t care what it tastes like.
1. Increases energy and stamina
There are many asanas that are energising for the mind and body, but without sufficient nutrients reaching our cells, we can struggle to find the energy to get on the mat in the first place. Traditionally called the ‘Destroyer of weakness’ and ‘Conqueror of mountains’, shilajit has been used by Ayurvedic practitioners for millennia to rejuvenate the body and boost energy. When sufficient and bioavailable nutrients are reaching the mitochondria (the energy powerhouse of the cell) it can work effectively to produce ATP (energy), increasing overall energy and stamina. In fact, shilajit is commonly used to enhance athletic performance.
2. Strengthens and repairs the skeletal and muscular systems
Support your yoga practice with a strong and supple body. Shilajit has been traditionally used for hundreds of years in Asian herbal medicine, both inwardly and outwardly against injuries, bone fractures, dislocations and also as a soothing and anti-inflammatory agent.
Initial evidence shows that it supports in the regeneration of bones, protecting from and slowing the process of osteoporosis. And, in a study of obese patients published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, supplementation significantly improved the function and regeneration of skeletal muscles. Shilajit has also been shown to increase the body’s production of collagen, which means joints are sufficiently protected and supple. Shilajit really is one of the most effective supplements to promote the strength and flexibility of your body during yoga and indeed all physical activity.
3. Promotes blood sugar balancing
A nutrient rich, balanced diet and regular exercise are two of the most important contributors to effective blood glucose balance, meaning we avoid the extreme highs and lows in energy which greatly affect our performance. In addition to the other benefits of an active body, yoga in particular is effective in stress reduction which is key to managing blood sugar levels. When cortisol is high it keeps blood sugar higher through the process of gluconeogenesis, so a reduction in cortisol (stress) allows the body to maintain a better balance.
Adding a dose of shilajit before your practice will amplify these benefits.
Studies have shown that shilajit effectively reduces blood glucose levels, as well as reducing lipid profiles and lowering triglycerides. Furthermore, shilajit has also shown potential to repair and regenerate damage to the pancreas caused by diabetes. When your blood sugar is in balance, you avoid the energy slumps that potentially hinder your practice.
4. Supports and speeds up
A body that is able to effectively detoxify waste products and toxins, is a healthy body. Yoga supports detoxification in a number of ways. Inversions such as Sirsasana (Headstand) encourage lymphatic drainage, forward bends such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) stimulate the digestive tract, encouraging elimination and then of course there’s perspiration and the removal of toxins through the skin. Shilajit is also known to improve and support detoxification pathways and it does this through the action of the fulvic and humic acids. In the same way that they transport nutrients to the cells, they effectively transport heavy metals and other toxins out of the body. So, adding shilajit to your daily routine ensures you’re not only supporting detoxification, but super powering it too.
5. Reduces stress
Yoga is one of the most effective tools to effectively reduce stress. By focusing the mind and breath, our practice becomes truly meditative. After a stressful day at work or when life is a little too overwhelming, it can be difficult and take time to be fully present in the moment. Shilajit is categorised as an adaptogen, meaning it significantly improves our body’s ability to deal with stress. By decreasing the adrenal glands need to produce more cortisol, we can prevent ourselves from becoming adrenally fatigued. When we are sufficiently balanced, our body is able to respond to stress in a more appropriate manner, thereby allowing us to centre and focus when we are away from stressors and in our practice.
The list above is just a few of the health benefits people have experienced when taking shilajit, but the list really is endless. Shilajit has also been shown to be anti-ageing, have anti-cancer, immune boosting properties, and of course a great source of electrolytes to maintain mineral balance in your body. It is classified as nootropic and hormone balancing too. There is a saying that suggests there is not a system in the human body which cannot benefit from the consumption of shilajit.
So why not superpower your practice and your health in general and give it a try?
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