This is the Vata season
As the season changes, what’s going on around us? The temperature is dropping, leaves are changing colors and falling, and we feel change within. Vata — light, airy, dry and governing movement — has great qualities. In our bodies, when Vata is in balance it is expressed as mental alertness, ability to fall asleep easily, good circulation, calm demeanor, balanced digestion and elimination, and balanced body temperature. But oh boy! When Vata is out of balance, we may notice that we are tired and forgetful, spaced out; we may experience difficulty falling asleep, occasional constipation, poor circulation (cold feet & hands), or occasional feelings of anxiousness and worry. So, how do we find that balance during the winter when Vata is in full effect? To counteract its uneven, variable nature, one of the best antidotes to balance Vata is regular routine! If you know you are a Vata dosha then you are a head of the game and if you don’t know your Dosha keep reading to find out how you can learn what your dosha is. (Those with Vata disorders often find themselves in a rush, always in a hurry. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to structure a more relaxed daily routine. Take it easy and slow down; enjoy abhyanga, warm baths and turning off electronics — disengage. This is important for mental, emotional and physical health!) However if you are not a vata the information in this article is still very important to you no matter what dosha you may be.
Start the morning with the intention to cultivate balance. When we take the time to invest in our Ayurvedic daily routine, we are jump-starting our day in the most powerful way — balanced and ready for anything!
Here are the goodies…
Make a Plan
To be successful, routine needs a plan. So map out the morning according to your own personal schedule. For example, if you have to be at work at 8:30 a.m., it’s easy to fit this routine in if you wake up by 6:00 a.m. An early wake-up call, with the rising sun, is smooth when accompanied by an early bedtime. Ayurveda recommends going to bed by 10:00 p.m. during the drowsy Kapha time of night (6:00 – 10:00 p.m.).
Ayurvedic Daily Routine
- Wake up in the morning before 6:00 a.m.
- If easy and natural… eliminate: empty bowel and bladder. Don’t strain. Ayurveda never wants us to resist healthy natural urges, or strain by trying to force them.
- Wash your face.
- Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue (Tongue scraping, really… don’t roll your eyes! See instructions below).
- Afterward, this is a good time to drink a cup of water.
- Perform Abhyanga — warm Ayurvedic oil self-massage.
- It’s best to wait 10-15 minutes for the oil to soak in between your massage and bath. If you don’t have time, immediately jumping in the shower is OK. The waiting time while letting the oil soak in could also be spent swishing oil in your mouth, known as oil pulling.
- Bathe or shower. Use warm rather than hot water.
- Perform Yoga Asanas and breathing, called Pranayama.
- Meditate for twenty minutes.
- Eat a light breakfast — a stewed apple or pear and/or warm cereal are ideal.
- Then… work or school — you are ready to do this!
Take these recommendations one-step at a time, and don’t feel overwhelmed. And remember to cultivate a habit of taking it easy and slowing down. Balance that Vata!
Here are the specifics on these Ayurvedic morning routines:
According to Ayurvedic principles, it is preferred to evacuate the bowels in the morning. Our body’s clock leans toward following the cycles of nature. During the nighttime, lunar energy is more predominant, so our body focuses on calming and cooling. In the morning, when the sun rises, our body goes into absorption phase when Agni — the active, burning and transforming solar energy — dominates. If, during the day, we carry around the waste material we created at night, we may absorb some of that waste material (toxins) back into our system, weakening immunity and leaving us feeling fatigued, drowsy and irritable during the day. Feeling energetic and relaxed are signs of proper evacuation. Twice a day is normal, but at least once a day is essential. Bowel movements affect our entire physiology, so don’t ignore urges and don’t wait! Through routine and a balanced diet, we can tune into our body’s internal clock and make regular elimination a part of our daily routine.
The use of nature’s intelligence, Ayurvedic herbs, can help smooth the elimination process into regularity. To assist with this process try drinking a cup of warm water with a little lemon juice or a drop or two of lemon essential oil.
“Ok, ok…. scrape my tongue?” We guarantee you, do it for one week and you will never quit. It is like brushing your teeth. Once you start, your mouth just doesn’t feel clean without doing it. It is also a great “meter” for ama, or digestive impurities (the result of incomplete or inefficient digestion). If you have a lot of residue, then think about your diet and routine and make changes. Tongue scraping has long been an important part of the recommended Ayurvedic daily routine. If you have ever noticed a film or coating (which can range in color from clear to white, yellow, or green) on your tongue in the morning, your body may have a build-up of ama that can compromise your digestive and immune systems. This simple, yet important, method of cleaning the tongue removes ama, the toxic coating or film, before the body reabsorbs it.
Here’s How to Scrape Your Tongue:
- After brushing your teeth first thing in the morning, grab your tongue cleaner. The Tongue Cleaner is traditional sterling silver and designed for ease and efficiency. In a bind, the front of a silver spoon can be used in place of a tongue cleaner. (Why silver? Silver is known for its antibacterial properties.)
- Relax your tongue so that the scraper contacts maximum surface area, and place the scraper as far back on your tongue as comfortable. Gently yet firmly, scrape the entire surface from back to front.
- Rinse the scraper well with hot water after each use.
- Repeat this process 3-5 times, until your tongue looks clean, and pinkish or red in color.
- Be careful as not to scrape the tongue too hard, destroying your taste buds. Gentle pressure is all that is needed to scrape the tongue.
Sesame and coconut oils are regularly used in Ayurveda to detoxify or “pull” toxins from the skin that they are applied to — so no surprise here that oil pulling can be done with either of these oils. This simple routine involves swishing (not gargling) one tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 2 to 20 minutes – whatever is comfortable. It’s not as bad as it sounds! It feels great, draws out bacteria and has been shown to promote healthy gums and teeth and reduce tartar build-up.
Embrace oil pulling as part of your daily teeth-cleaning routine, and remember these few things:
- Swish the oil gently. If your jaw or mouth starts aching, slow down. Go easy on yourself!
- Avoid swallowing the oil while swishing.
- Once you are done pulling, spit the oil into the trash or outside, not in the sink, because over time the oil may clog pipes.
- After spitting, rinse your mouth with water before consuming any beverages.
Self oil massage, Abhyanga; helps calm the mind and nervous system. Daily Abhyanga is especially important for Vata, as it helps alleviate dry skin that is often a result of Vata imbalance. The skin is one of the primary seats of Vata dosha, so massaging your body every morning with warm, Vata-pacifying such as Sesame can go a long way toward soothing the entire nervous system and emotions. It’s just a matter of taking however many minutes you can spare — from 2 to 20 — to give your skin some love! It’s a powerful tool before or after a shower, and has healing qualities: increased circulation, toxin release, and stimulation of nerve endings.
Here’s How to Perform Abhyanga:
- Place a small amount of warm oil in the palm of your hand for each point listed below (using small amounts will help you avoid feeling too oily).
- Start with massaging the face and outer part of the ears.
- Massage both the front and back of the neck and the upper part of the spine.
- Massage the arms, using a back-and-forth motion over the long bones and a circular motion over the joints.
- Use a circular motion to massage over the heart and a clockwise motion over the abdomen.
- Massage the legs, using the same long motion over the leg bones and a circular motion over the joints.
- Last but not least, massage the feet. Use the open part of your hand to massage vigorously back-and-forth over the soles.
- After massaging your whole body, you can use a natural-bristle body brush with a vigorous motion upward toward your heart on the front and back of your feet, legs, arms, back and tummy.
Yoga asanas are the preferred Ayurvedic way to exercise, because practiced properly they do not put undue strain on any one part of the physiology. Yoga asanas increase blood flow to vital organs, stimulate marma points (points in our bodies where concentrated prana is located) and activate the relaxation response, which is beneficial to the digestive system and all the systems of the body essential for good health.
According to Ayurveda, we metabolize not just food, but with all our five senses. During Meditation all the senses are engaged and we experience a unique, silent state of awareness that becomes part of who we are. While all parts of the daily routine are important, the Meditation aspect is the most effective way to reduce stress. Just 20 minutes twice a day has the potential to regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase serotonin, which is a sign of relaxation — ultimately reducing stress and feelings of anxiety. For a free guided meditation to: gifts4bliss.com
Regular meals are an essential part of the Ayurvedic routine, with three warm, cooked meals a day. It’s preferred to eat them at the same time every day, as Vata digestion tends to be irregular. Start the day with an energizing meal to build an appetite for lunch, stimulate regular bowel movement, increase vitality and alertness, and provide a light but satisfying breakfast.
Go to gifts4bliss.com to get energizing Ayurvedic recipes that will help you to optimize your day in a positive and energizing way.
As I mentioned earlier knowing your dosha can assist you tremendously in knowing how to jumpstart your day. To find out your dosha click here: www.freegiftsfromrochele.com
Wishing you peace to your mind, wellness to your body and tranquility to your spirit.
Rochel Marie Lawson, RN, AHP, CMS
The Queen of Feeling Fabulous and The Wellness Architect