I have been following an ayurvedic lifestyle for almost a year now. I started slow and have gradually added things into my routine as I have walked further down the healing path towards wellness and vitality. Having an ayurvedic routine is called 'dinacharya.' This is a daily routine or lifestyle that helps align our bodies to the natural rhythms of nature and includes hygiene practices, food protocols, and sleep routines. Ayurveda has helped me slow down and move intentionally through my days. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for these practices and ways they have provided me with a soft and balanced focus on my health.
Here are the 6 practices that changed my life (and that I hope will change yours too):
1. Drink warm lemon water
I start and end my day with a warm cup of lemon water. There are so many benefits to this simple practice: lemon is a rich source of vitamin C and helps boost the immune system, it balances the pH of the body, it helps your body detoxify naturally, it aids digestion, it is great for your skin and can help fight acne, dark spots, and rashes, and it is one of the best ways to cleanse the liver.
I love this practice because of the simple and intentional way it invites me to begin and end my day. I try and turn it into a gratitude practice by reflecting on all that I am thankful for while I sip on the warm water. While sipping on your lemon water, try to stay off of technology and find presence in the opening and closing moments of your day. You can even journal or repeat a mantra while you drink the warm potion. My favorite mantra: 'i have everything i need.' For added benefit or digestive help, add a splash of organic apple cider vinegar!
2. Tongue scraping
I scrape my tongue every morning before I brush my teeth. I was hesitant to try this at first, but now my day feels incomplete without it. If I am groggy when I wake up, I find that going through this ritual makes me awake and alert. While watching myself do this, I try to look in the mirror and whisper affirmations to my heart. It sounds so silly but you will be amazed what happens when you start the day by feeding your mind positivity and gratitude. Tongue scraping first thing in the morning has a wide range of benefits: it clears toxins from the tongue, removes coating on the tongue that leads to bad breath, eliminates undigested food particles from the tongue, increases overall oral and digestive health and it stimulates the internal organs.
The main reason I love this practice is the way it improves digestion and the overall health of our internal organs. I have issues with leaky gut (and digestion in general) so I am always looking for ways to naturally enhance my bodies ability to digest and function optimally. Ayurveda believes that digestion is the most important element to maintaining vibrant health. Cleansing our tongue enhances our ability to taste, which then supports the entire digestive process. Coating on our tongue indicates a build up of toxins in other parts of the body. Different parts of our tongue are related to our lungs, heart, stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys, and intestines. A tongue scraper gently removes these toxins from the tongue and then stimulates and cleanses the associated organs and deep tissue.
I recommend a stainless steal tongue scraper -- it will last basically your whole life and when you do decide to get a new one it is 100% recyclable.
3. Dry brushing before shower (or upon waking up)
Dry brushing before showering is one of my favorite wellness rituals. It feels amazing and it is a great way to send healing and loving energy strait to our skin and body. It is not hard to imagine why there are so many benefits as the skin is the largest organ in our body. Our skin is often the last thing that we pay attention to and the first thing that shows signs of imbalance and deficiency. I know this to be true: every time my gut is out of whack or my body is crying out for help, I notice my skin shouting for help through acne, rashes, and dryness.
Here are a couple of my favorite and most noticeable benefits: dry brushing helps shed dead skin cells and encourages cell renewal which then produces smoother and brighter skin, it assists in blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, it helps the body shed metabolic waste, it rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin (and it feels amazing) and it helps with muscle toning by evening out our fat deposits. I dry brush everyday before I shower. To get the full effect I try and do this ritual for 5 minutes, starting at my toes and working in and up towards my heart from all directions. I finish with circular motions on my belly to stimulate digestion.
I recommend buying a wooden or bamboo dry brush with all natural and organic fibers.
4. Body massage with sesame oil or coconut oil after shower (abhyanga)
Abhyanga is the Ayurvedic practice of self massage. Aside from this ritual being extremely enjoyable and relaxing (who doesn't love a massage?), it is a great way to nourish your body during the cold winter months. Abhyanga helps decrease effects of aging, benefits skin tone and elasticity, aids sleeping patterns, strengthens your skins ability to fight off infection and disease, tones muscles, and stimulates internal organs of the body by increasing circulation. After I get out of the shower, I gently massage organic sesame oil into my skin starting at my ankles and moving in and up towards my heart. I spend extra time on my neck and shoulders to relieve stress and encourage relaxation. I live in Colorado where it is extremely dry during the winter... my skin always feels the effects of this intensely. However, this ritual has kept my skin supple and happy. To get the full effects of this ritual, I recommend spending 10 to 15 minutes massaging the oil into your skin. I know this feels like a big commitment, and you won't always have time, but try to dedicate this time to your body and your health. I promise you won't regret it.
I recommend using sesame oil during winter months and coconut oil during the summer months. This is a great ritual to do right after you get out of the shower, but can be done anytime on clean dry skin!
5. Drinking an ashwagandha potion, latte, or elixir with breakfast
Ashwagandha is a powerful herb that comes from a root. It is an adaptogenic herb which basically means that it helps our bodies manage stress and restores normal physiological function in the body. This is one of the most important ayurvedic herbs, and I think it is delicious. It has been used for 3,000 years to decrease stress levels and increase energy levels naturally.
Some benefits of taking this herb daily include: reduced blood sugar levels, reduced cortisol levels, reduces stress and anxiety, can alleviate symptoms of depression, and can reduce inflammation in the body.
While you can take this in pill form, I like drinking it as a latte or elixir. I will create another post with some ashwagandha recipes. My favorite company to purchase this from us SunPotion. They are committed to sustainability and produce all herbs and tonics ethically... head to www.sunpotion.com to purchase!
6. Early to bed -- early to rise
Early to bed, early to rise. I know this can be hard for people who tend to be night owls and late risers... but one of the best (and most beneficial) Ayurvedic rituals I follow is going to bed early and rising with the sun. The body naturally detoxifies and renews itself between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am. When we stay awake all hours of the night, we are not allowing our body to detoxify properly. Try and turn your phone off an hour before you want to go to bed so that you can wind down from your day and your body can recover from the day's stimulation. After going to bed early, you will find it easier to rise with the sun. Ayurvedic teaching says that sleeping beyond the sunrise clogs our communication channels and can make our mind feel dull and our bodies feel lethargic all day long.
I have followed the pattern of early to bed and early to rise naturally my whole life, but I have found that following this sleep cycle with intention is incredibly rejuvenating. Abiding by consistent sleep patterns helps us move through our day mindfully and also invites consistent morning and night routines. This can be such a difficult thing to get in the habit of doing, but I promise it will be so worth it! I try to go to bed around 10 pm and I wake up around 7 or 8. I am trying to wake up around 6... but because I am so sick right now my body needs the extra sleep. But as a general rule, I recommend a consistent sleep schedule of a 10 pm bedtime and a 6 am wake up.
I hope this inspires you to integrate more Ayurvedic wellness routines into your life. If any of these rituals sound interesting, or you're in need of the benefits they facilitate and want to know more, please reach out to me! I am not an Ayurvedic doctor but I can point you towards resources, books, and medical journals that have helped me along this path.
What wellness practices have changed your life? I would love to know. Comment below or shoot me an email at email@example.com.
warmth and light, morgan rae xx