Are you on your ‘Who I have to take care of list? When I ask my students or clients to make a list of all the people they have to take care of each day, nearly everyone of them do not even put themselves on that list. Self care is something that they struggle with and even class it as being selfish! But if we don’t love ourselves, we are sending out the messages that we are not worthy of care, love, compassion etc.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “the science of life,” and it refers to a constitutional model of health used in India for more than 5,000 years. Sometimes called “yoga’s sister science,” Ayurveda is used for daily health maintenance as well as intervention in chronic health issues, and makes self care and absolute priority.
Living in this day and age, practicing self-care can be quite challenging. Everything is so fast-paced that most of us have forgotten how to ignore the distractions and tune into ourselves. When you focus all of your energy on others , that’s a sign you need to look inwards, become your number one fan and start asking some tough questions.
Every day, there are thousands of reasons to sabotage yourself and create unnecessary drama instead of going after the life that you want. What if you took all of this energy and put it towards building a strong healthy mind, body and spirit?
The practice of Ayurveda encourages us to create healthy rituals and make them a priority. A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one’s constitution. It also regularizes a person’s biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity.
1. Wake Up Early in the Morning
It is good to wake up before the sun rises, when there are loving (sattvic) qualities in nature that bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses. Sunrise varies according to the seasons, but on average vata people should get up about 6 a.m., pitta people by 5:30 a.m., and kapha by 4:30 a.m. Right after waking, look at your hands for a few moments, then gently move them over your face and chest down to the waist. This cleans the aura.
2. Set an Intention for your day.
Before you reach for your phone to check your news feed or messages, set your intention for the day. Decide, and affirm what you want from your day. Start the day stating what is important to you and make it a priority. Don’t start from a place of reaction but from a place of calm intention.
3. Clean the Face, Mouth, and Eyes
Splash your face with cold water and rinse out your mouth. Wash your eyes with cool water and massage the eyelids by gently rubbing them. Blink your eyes 7 times and rotate your eyes in all directions. Dry your face with a clean towel.
4. Drink Water in the Morning
Then drink a glass of room temperature water, preferably from a pure copper cup filled the night before. This washes the GI track, flushes the kidneys, and stimulates peristalsis. It is not a good idea to start the day with tea or coffee, as this drains kidney energy, stresses the adrenals, causes constipation, and is habit-forming.
Sit, or better squat, on the toilet and have a bowel movement. Improper digestion of the previous night’s meal or lack of sound sleep can prevent this. However the water, followed by sitting on the toilet at a set time each day, helps to regulate bowel movements. Alternate nostril breathing may also help. After evacuation wash the anal orifice with warm water, then the hands with soap.
6. Scrape your Tongue
Gently scrape the tongue from the back forward, until you have scraped the whole surface for 7-14 strokes. This stimulates the internal organs, helps digestion, and removes dead bacteria. Ideally, vata can use a gold scraper, pitta a silver one, and kapha copper. Stainless steel can be used by all people.
7. Clean your Teeth
Always use a soft toothbrush and an astringent, pungent, and bitter toothpaste or powder. The traditional Indian toothbrush is a neem stick, which dislodges fine food particles from between teeth and makes strong, healthy gums. Licorice root sticks are also used. Roasted almond shell powder can be used for vata and kapha, and ground neem for pitta.
To strengthen teeth, gums, and jaw, improve the voice and remove wrinkles from cheeks, gargle twice a day with warm sesame oil. Hold the oil in your mouth, swish it around vigorously, then spit it out and gently massage the gums with a finger.
Chewing a handful of sesame seeds helps receding gums and strengthens teeth. Alternatively, chew 3-5 dried dates and an inch of dried coconut meat. Chewing in the morning stimulates the liver and the stomach and improves digestive fire. After chewing, brush the teeth again without using toothpaste or powder.
10. Nasal Drops (Nasya)
Putting 3 to 5 drops of warm ghee or oil into each nostril in the morning helps to lubricate the nose, clean the sinuses, and improve voice, vision, and mental clarity. Our nose is the door to the brain, so nose drops nourish prana and bring intelligence.
For vata: sesame oil, ghee, or vacha (calamus) oil.
For pitta: brahmi ghee, sunflower or coconut oil.
For kapha: vacha (calamus root) oil.
11. Oil Drops in the Ears (Karana purana)
Conditions such as ringing in the ears, excess ear wax, poor hearing, lockjaw, and TMJ, are all due to vata in the ears. Putting 5 drops of warm sesame oil in each ear can help these disorders.
12. Apply Oil to the Head & Body (Abhyanga)
Rub warm oil over the head and body. Gentle, daily oil massage of the scalp can bring happiness, as well as prevent headache, baldness, graying, and receding hairline. Oiling your body before bedtime will help induce sound sleep and keep the skin soft.
For vata use warm sesame oil.
For pitta use warm sunflower or coconut oil.
For kapha use warm sunflower or mustard oil.
Bathing is cleansing and refreshing. It removes sweat, dirt, and fatigue, brings energy to the body, clarity to the mind, and holiness to your life.
Wearing clean clothes brings beauty and virtue.
15. Use of Perfumes
Using natural scents, essential oils, or perfumes brings freshness, charm, and joy. It gives vitality to the body and improves self-esteem.
For vata the best scent to use is hina or amber.
For pitta try using khus, sandalwood, or jasmine.
For kapha use either amber or musk.
Regular exercise, especially yoga, improves circulation, strength, and endurance. It helps one relax and have sound sleep, and improves digestion and elimination. Exercise daily to half of your capacity, which is until sweat forms on the forehead, armpits, and spine.
Vata: Sun salutation x 12, done slowly; Leg lifting; Camel; Cobra; Cat; Cow. Slow, gentle exercise.
Pitta: Moon salutation x 16, moderately fast; Fish; Boat; Bow. Calming exercise.
Kapha: Sun salutation x 12, done rapidly; Bridge; Peacock; Palm tree; Lion. Vigorous exercise.
After exercise, sit quietly and do some deep breathing exercises as follows:
12 alternate nostril breaths for vata;
16 cooling shitali breaths (curling up your tongue lengthwise and breathing through it) for pitta;
100 bhastrika (short, fast breaths) for kapha.
It is important to meditate in the morning for at least 15 minutes to set the direct of the day with a calm focused mind, free from the clutter of dreams and desires. Meditation brings balance and peace into your life.
19. Now it is time for your breakfast!
Your meal should be light in the hot months or if your agni is low, and more substantial in the cold.
20. Enjoy your day!