Everyone has a daily routine they either consciously or subconsciously follow. From the moment you wake up your routine usually starts. But how often do you often feel that you ‘woke up on the wrong side of the bed’? Maybe your morning routine isn’t optimal for your body. It could be time to consider an Ayurvedic-centered routine that is best for your unique Ayurvedia physiology. Learn more about this in the following article, and then give it a try!
Ayurveda, the ancient ‘science of life’ focusing on the mind-body connection, places great emphasis on the importance of the morning routine. We all have one whether we are aware of it or not whether it’s getting up, brushing our teeth and heading out the door with toast in our mouth or methodically making tea and doing an early yoga routine.
Once you have established what your unique physiology according to Ayurveda is (which you can do here) the next step is to establish a morning routine which will set your mind and body up for the day and create the basis for ultimate health.
Routine helps to establish balance in one’s constitution. It also regulates our biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace and happiness. We’ve probably all noticed the difference in our mood when we’ve woken up with time to shower and eat a nourishing breakfast versus the time we barely have a moment to brush our hair before rushing out of the door.
Sometimes the latter can’t be helped but it’s important to create a conscious routine for the days where you are able to make the time and as you notice the difference, chances are you’ll begin to prioritise it more. Don’t worry about trying to fit everything in, rather chose the things from the list below that resonate with you and add in further rituals as you go along.
Below is a basic Ayurvedic routine which includes everything from when to wake up to what type of perfume to wear. Though it may seem overwhelming at first, many of the activities on the list are simple and are likely already a part of your morning routine, the key is doing them more mindfully.
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. Clean your 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 seven times and rotate your eyes in all directions before dry your face with a clean towel.
3. Drink Water in the Morning
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. If you can, try not to start the day with tea or coffee as this drains kidney energy, stresses the adrenals and can cause constipation.
4. 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. You can buy a scraper for £2.25 here.
5. Clean your Teeth
Always use a soft toothbrush 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.
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, swill it around until your mouth is totally coated and then spit it out. To finish gently massage the gums with a finger.
Chewing a handful of sesame seeds helps receding gums and strengthens teeth as well as helping to stimulate the liver and the stomach and improve digestion. After chewing, brush the teeth again without using toothpaste.
7. Nasal Drops
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. Ayurvedic teachers put great emphasis on the nose as it is the ;door to our brain’ and so keeping it clear is important. You can use sesame oil, sunflower oil or coconut oil for this (the choice is based on which mind-body connection you are but for beginners isn’t overly important).
8. Apply Oil to your Body
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. You can use warm sesame oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil or mustard oil.
9. Bath or Shower
Bathing is cleansing and refreshing. It removes sweat, dirt, and fatigue, brings energy to the body and clarity to the mind. Mindfully wash your body – paying attention to how it feels and how you feel as the water runs over you.
10. Choose your perfume carefully
Using natural scents, essential oils, or perfumes brings freshness, charm, and joy. For vata the best scent to use is hina or amber, pittas should try using khus, sandalwood, or jasmine and kapha use either amber or musk.
Regular exercise, especially yoga, improves circulation, strength, and endurance. It helps us to relax, sleep better, and improves digestion and elimination.
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 the following deep breathing exercises (known as Pranayama):
Vata: 12 alternate nostril breaths
Pitta: 16 cooling breaths curl up your tongue lengthwise and breathing through it
Kapha: 100 short, fast breaths
Meditating is an important part of this morning routine and if you were going to make time for just one thing on this list, it would be this. Meditation helps you recenter, balance and create a feeling of calm throughout the body and mind. If you’re new to meditation then try this 1-minute routine.
14. Eat breakfast
Eat a light in the hot months and more substantial in the cold – why not try one of this warming porridge recipes. Try to sit and eat mindfully, rather than in front of the TV and computer though it can feel like a great time to go through emails, it will serve you much more to pay attention to what you’re doing. Notice the flavours and feeling the food gives you, chew thoroughly and enjoy.