Over the past couple of years, something we’ve learnt not to overlook is our health. We’ve had to navigate through a worldwide pandemic which has affected the lives of many. So it’s not surprising that many individuals are turning to alternative holistic approaches to medicine, aligning the mind and body with what they need. Here’s where the method of Ayurveda comes into play, but what is it and how can it help you?
To put things into context, this article outlines what’s at the core of Ayurveda, along with several healthy Ayurvedic rituals that will be sure to spruce up your mornings!
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is known as the traditional Hindu system of medicine that focuses on balance in the body using diet, yogic breathing and herbal treatment. Evolving therapies relating to Ayurveda include massage, medical oils, meditation, laxatives and enemas.
The theory of Ayurveda is pseudoscientific but it’s historically rooted in the Indian subcontinent, specifically used in India and Nepal. In these countries, 80% of the population have reported practising Ayurveda heavily, receiving Ayurvedic medicine as first aid treatment.
Healthy Ayurvedic Rituals
Incorporating healthy Ayurvedic rituals into your mornings can really help to set you up for the day. There are several to choose from that will cleanse the body and stimulate the mind. Take a look at our top ten Ayurvedic rituals to start practising now.
Go to bed early to wake up early
One of the best ways to maintain good health is by going to bed early. Your body detoxifies and renews itself between 10pm and 2am, so aim to be in bed by this time. To get sufficient sleep, switch off electronic devices at least an hour beforehand.
This ritual will encourage your body to naturally wake up with the sun. According to Ayurveda, sleeping beyond sunrise can clog communication channels with impurities. Therefore, you might avoid waking up feeling dull, lethargic, and in a low mood when rising early.
A swift trip to the bathroom once you wake up is necessary as emptying your bowels, bladder, ears, nose and mouth will help to eliminate any toxins that have accumulated overnight.
The more time there is for toxins to form in the body, the higher the chance for uncomfortable and chronic conditions to ensue. Hence, regular bowel movements are healthy for your digestive tract, making you feel your best.
Drinking lots of water, lemon or lime water, or herbal tea first thing in the morning also supports easy bowel movement and will activate your organs to function properly.
That’s right, you should invest in a tongue scraper! Maintaining proper oral hygiene is non-negotiable when it comes to Ayurvedic health regimes. It’s a gentle way to remove the build-up of toxins in your mouth and contributes to healthy digestion.
Copper or stainless steel tongue scrapers are non-porous, so they don’t harbour bacteria. They’re recyclable and durable, lasting for years if looked after appropriately.
For extra cleanliness, brush your teeth with herbal toothpaste before gargling saltwater with added garlic to clear the throat.
Tongue scraping should be followed up with oil pulling. This has been used in Indian culture for thousands of years. It’s beneficial for removing toxins from the mouth, throat and head, keeping teeth and gums healthy, freshening breath and improving taste, assisting with overall gut health.
Sesame oil is traditionally used for this practice, but olive oil and coconut oil are just as effective. Swish a tablespoon of warm oil around your mouth for approximately ten minutes, being mindful not to swallow any. After that, you can spit the oil out and rinse your mouth with water.
Daily self-massage can be easily self-administered from home to increase blood circulation in the body and help prevent injury. Performing self-abhyanga, a warm oil body massage, helps to tone muscles, hydrate the skin, calm the mind and body and relax the nervous system. This stress-reducing ritual is great for your mental health and can help boost your mood.
Before you shower, set aside some time to liberally apply a plain, natural oil like castor, coconut, sesame or CBD oil to your skin. Let the oil soak into your skin for as long as you like. The longer you leave it, the more nourished, soft and supple your skin will feel. However, don’t forget to take things slow and use a CBD oil dosage calculator to determine a starting point for CBD.
Ayurveda considers the nose the pathway to the brain, so Ayurvedic teachings largely promote nasal cleaning. This involves filling up a neti pot container (similar to a teapot) with sterile saline water to rinse debris and/or mucus from your nasal cavity. It’s ideal for anyone prone to nasal allergies, sinus problems or colds, or people living in built-up, urban areas.
Breathe and meditate
You can tap into specific yogic practices through the breath, mind and emotions to clear out subtle toxins. According to Ayurveda, start with basic yoga poses before moving on to a breathing or ‘pranayama’ practice, then conclude with quiet meditation.
Fuel your body
Proper nourishment and a healthy diet are considered central to Ayurveda. Consuming three meals a day is essential to fuel the body. Begin your day with a light, satisfying and balanced breakfast such as fruit, oatmeal or yoghurt. At the same time, lunch should be the biggest meal of the day, so be careful not to skip this as it can give you enough energy up until dinner.
Moving your body a little bit every day is a perfect example of utilising your energy in the right way. Any form of exercise engages the muscles and gets the lymphatic drainage going. Not only does physical activity strengthen and maintain muscle and bone health, but it also improves balance, coordination and stability. So get up and get moving!
Unwind with a bath
Ayurveda supports all kinds of self-care. Sometimes there’s nothing better than taking a comforting, relaxing bath. This supports your overall health and carves out some much-needed time for you to unwind and de-stress.
Learning about these Ayurvedic rituals and practices can encourage us to live healthier lives, bringing us balance, peace and optimum health. Try to incorporate them into your Dinacharya (daily routine) and become a better version of yourself!