Healthy Mountain Living Starts at Home

Rethink Space with Vedic Architecture

I don’t know if there’s a joke about a scientist, a doctor and a philosopher walking into a bar, but if they did, I think one topic of conversation they’d all agree on is that spending time in nature is immensely beneficial for human health.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but although we may not be lacking in outdoor time in the Valley, there’s still more we can do to stay plugged in to nature. After all, people are increasingly working from home these days, so it’s becoming more important than ever to examine how your home affects your health.

Susan Lauer is an administrator for Maharishi Vastu, an organization that promotes an ancient style of architecture from India called Vastu, a predecessor to Feng Shui that promotes health and happiness through home design and layout. She likens the homes that we live in to a box that can either impede or promote our access to nature’s intelligence. “Unless the box is aligned with the natural world, then all it does is create an interference. And, we live and work in those boxes for 85-95% of our lives.”


Otherwise known as Vedic architecture, Vastu is founded on the understanding that the human brain is sensitive to orientation and that elements like time, space and direction inform your cognitive function — how you think, learn, reason and solve problems. Vastu gives precise recommendations for what direction your front door should face, how to arrange your rooms and even what position your head should point when you’re sleeping.

You don’t need to foot the bill for a brand-new home to incorporate some of the principles of this ancient philosophy. Whether you’re sharing a condo with multiple roommates and seeking to make life a bit more peaceful or building your dream mountain home, you can make these simple changes that might increase your sense of harmony and happiness at home.

  1. Increase access to natural light.

One of the healthiest things you can do is increase your access to natural light, and this is backed up by clinical research. A 2001 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that bipolar inpatients in west-facing rooms had a mean 3.67-day longer hospital stay than patients in otherwise identical but east-facing rooms, where they were exposed to direct sunlight in the morning.

The light of the rising sun is considered to be the most health-bestowing, so if you’re on the north side of the highway or down valley where the Gore Range doesn’t block the dawn light, you’re in good shape. If you don’t get any sun until later in the day, get out for a short dawn walk as often as possible, and keep window coverings to a minimum to enjoy natural light from as many angles as possible.

  1. Sleep with your head pointing towards the east or south.

This simple principle carries no expense. Vastu recommends sleeping with the pillow end of your bed pointing east to support spiritual growth, while south is recommended for health.

It might seem highly unlikely that this could have any discernible health benefits whatsoever, but in published research, Iowa physician Veronica Butler discovered that her patients who sleep in north-facing beds suffer from significantly more depression and anxiety than those who sleep in other orientations. If you can’t easily move your bed, simply turn around in it so your head points towards the Gore Range or the ski hill; you can also use your compass for accuracy here.

  1. Create space for spirituality.

Another simple principle you can easily implement is to have a designated space for your daily yoga, meditation, journaling or prayer practice. After all, everything in life needs space in order to grow, not least your heart and mind.

If you live in tight quarters, your space can be a small corner of your bedroom. Whatever shape it takes, make sure it’s quiet, kept clean, painted in a neutral color and, ideally, in the northeast of your home to support contemplation. If you love this idea and are looking for inspiration to build a temple or incense to burn, look no further than Blossom Himalayan Arts in Vail Village.

  1. Favor natural materials.

Given the time period that Vastu originated in, natural materials would have been the only choice for home decor, but it’s now well known that substances found in common household materials like paint, upholstery and cleaning agents can be detrimental to your health, otherwise known as Sick Building Syndrome.

Give your interior a makeover with the help of local businesses Hygge Life in Eagle-Vail to help you enhance your home with natural materials, like wooden furniture, ceramic tile, natural fiber rugs and blankets, and use natural paints and glues to redecorate.