7 Ayurvedic Morning Rituals
It’s completely understandable that we fool ourselves into thinking there is not enough time to create good habits, all while snuggling under the warmth and safety of our blankets in the dark and early hours of our day. However, tuning into our internal wisdom will lead us to well-being. Dinacharya (Sanskrit for daily routine) is a roadmap to health if we choose to follow its direction. I’m going to assume that I am not the only one suffering from the dreaded, horrific sound of a buzzer to wake me in the morning.
Truth be told, if I want even an iota of peace before the cave people awake (a.k.a. my kids), I have to get started before they open their eyes and immediately spring into action. I have come to understand that allowing my alarm to dictate an arrhythmic timetable diminishes my ability to follow nature’s rhythms. Sometimes, the easier path to travel is to ignore the subtle rhythms that quietly influence our state of health, and hit snooze one more time.
The following tips are ways that we can re-introduce our body to a routine that will allow us to thrive:
Don’t hate me for saying so, but…rising just before the sun helps synchronize our system to the daily pattern of the solar journey across the sky. There is a sweet period just before sunrise that is called Sattva Guna.
The literal translation of this term is purity, light, or illumination. I’m sure you are thinking that this is crazy talk. Who would choose to wake up before sunrise? If you are like me and find this challenging, work backward from a normal waking time about 15-30 minutes until you reach the goal of waking at the appropriate time. A few exceptions would be for small children, elderly folk, hospitalized patients, and if you work a night shift.
I’m going to get right to the point here:
A sign of good health is moving your bowels first thing in the morning. If you need a little help, try sipping on warm water until your body catches on to the habit. (If you want to go the extra mile, keep the water in a copper container to increase ionization.) Disruptions in your body’s ability to remove waste can be a sign of poor digestion and/or toxins. Drinking a weak tea of dried ginger will stimulate enough digestion to improve your wastes.
Our skin and digestive system are the main barriers to preventing unwanted bacteria to take hold in our body, meaning, the health of our skin is intimately related to the health of our digestive system. Since our body excretes waste by means of sweat through our skin, any waste-clogged areas can harbor disease.
Self-massage or abhyanga, is traditionally done in the morning before you shower. Gently glide the oil towards your heart while using a circular motion on the joints. (Sesame oil is most commonly used).
Why apply oil before I shower, you ask? The heat from the shower dilates our pores and allows the oil in, which in turn, nourishes all bodily tissues. When we step out of our shower, it is normal for our pores to contract from the cooler variation in temperature. If you spread oil (or moisturizer) on after, it will clog the subtle channels.
Makes sense, right?
The benefits of oil massage are many, but the primary effects are it prevents aging, strengthens the tissues, tones muscles, calms our nervous system, and helps the body heal faster. Receive a massage (preferably an Abhyanga massage) regularly from a qualified therapist to help really experience the benefits of this therapeutic art.
I am a huge fan of tongue scraping. Admittedly, it might gross you out initially and sometimes I am completely disgusted with myself. I honestly do this immediately after brushing my teeth in the morning. DON’T brush your tongue with a toothbrush.
This will drive toxins deeper into your system. I have found tongue scrapers at most health food stores and the optimum ones are made from gold, copper or stainless steel. If you’re in a bind or traveling and forget yours, you can use the side of a spoon. Stick your tongue out as far as it is comfortable, and gently scrape from the back to the front, rinsing the scraper as you complete each round.
Five to ten times should suffice.
Done regularly, this will help your body get rid of undigested toxins, or ama, and eliminate bad breath. Obviously, washing your face and eyes with cool or lukewarm water is a must to remove dirt, improve circulation and prevent impurities on the skin. After I take care of my skin and eyes, a warm shower helps energize the rest of me!
You use oil for that?
As a practitioner of Ayurveda, I learned quickly that oil is magnificent nectar. The “go-to” oil is Sesame, but depending on your body type, it can change. I use it for oil pulling (gentle swishing of oil in my mouth for 15-20 minutes), I use ghee (clarified butter) for my eyes, sesame oil in my nostrils (about 3 per), coconut oil drops in my ears before bed, and even oil for enemas!
Nothing tones our muscles and increases energy like exercise. Walking has been proven to be one of the best forms of exercise. Personally, I love yoga for the ability to stretch, lengthen and tone my body. In any exercise, pacing yourself through the breath will aid in being present and mindful with what may be an awakening within ourselves. Breathing has the ability to purify us if we make the effort to keep it even, deep, and regular. Be mindful of your own capabilities, as overexertion can be depleting and not beneficial.
Perhaps the most important of all the rituals is meditation. Sometimes we ease into it and sometimes the mind chatter is incessant. Known to calm the mind and reduce anxiety, studies have proven that regularity is more important than the length of time spent meditating.
I encourage you to open yourself to the ancient rhythms of nature. There is no limit to the harmony of humanity if we first bring ourselves into harmony. May these practices permit you to experience peace, happiness, and health!
(originally posted by Roxanna Medeiros, Sivanaspirit.)