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Do you ever find yourself feeling run down and exhausted, counting down the hours until your head hits the pillow at night? Life can be hectic at times, which is why it’s so important to be practicing self-care.
I’m the mom of a 2-year-old who is always on-the-go. In addition to all of my other responsibilities, I know what it’s like to feel as if you never get any time for yourself.
But the fact is, you can’t pour from an empty cup. If we don’t take the time to practice self-care, then we’re not going to be able to give of ourselves. Additionally, stress and exhaustion can wreak havoc on our health, causing a whole host of potential health problems.
Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine originating in India, strongly advocates practicing self-care. Instead of waiting for health issues to arise and then treating them, practicing Ayurvedic self-care rituals can help to alleviate the stress and exhaustion you’re feeling, and stop health issues from occurring.
In Ayurveda, the daily ritual of self-care is called Dinacharya. The morning is considered to be the most sacred time to practice self-care, as this will help to set the tone for your entire day.
Dinacharya – A Daily Ayurvedic Routine
Wake Up Early
If you are able to get to bed at a reasonable time every night (before 10pm) then it’s best to try and wake up early, usually before the sun rises. Of course, this can vary based on the seasons, but according to Ayurveda, the best time to wake up also varies depending on your dosha. If you don’t know your dosha, then take this free quiz to find out.
Vatta – Around 6am
Pitta – Around 5:30am
Kapha – Around 4:30am
*If you are elderly, sick or have small children, these suggested wake up times do not apply.
Set Your Intentions for the Day
Before you get out of bed, set your intentions for the day. Be thankful that you have been granted another day on this earth, and decide on what your daily focus and/or goals will be.
Wash Your Face
After you’ve risen out of bed, splash some cold water on your face and dry with a towel. I also like to spritz some rosewater on my face after I’ve dried it off.
Drink a Glass of Water
The first beverage you should drink in the morning is a glass of room temperature water, preferably from a copper vessel like this one.
Scrape Your Tongue
Using a stainless steel or copper tongue scraper (not plastic) scrape your tongue approximately 7-14 times, to stimulate digestions, remove plaque and bacteria that has built up overnight and stimulate your internal organs.
Brush Your Teeth
Once you’ve completed your tongue scraping, brush your teeth with a natural toothpaste or powder. I’ve tried a lot of natural toothpastes and my absolute favorite is this one, an Ayurvedic toothpaste that contains neem and peelu extracts.
Oil pulling may be one of the most important Ayurvedic self-care rituals you can perform. The benefits of oil-pulling are so vast that Dr Bruce Fife even wrote an entire book on oil-pulling.
Oil pulling has been practiced in India for over 3000 years, and is rapidly growing in popularity in the United States. According to Dr Fife, a lot of disease begins in our mouth, and poor dental health can be linked to poor overall health.
There are many reported benefits of oil pulling, including:
- Healthier gums
- Alleviates bad breath
- Whitens the teeth
- Removes bacteria from the mouth
- Clearer skin
- Boosts the immune system
- Clears the sinuses
The most common oil used for oil pulling is coconut oil. This is the bulk jar I buy (I go through a lot of coconut oil.)
Take approximately 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth.
Your goal will be to get up to 20 minutes, but it’s fine to start with just 5 minutes, until you can work your way up to the full 20 minutes.
Continue swishing the coconut oil around in your mouth until the time has passed, and then spit the coconut oil out into the trashcan. Do NOT swallow it.
Rinse your mouth out with water and you’re done!
Evacuate Your Bowels
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you suffer from constipation or hemorrhoids, try a Squatty Potty – it will literally change your life!
Skin brushing (Garshana)
Ayurvedic skin-brushing, known as garshana, is an important self-care ritual in Ayurvedic medicine. Garshana is one of the easiest self-care rituals to practice at home, and it has some amazing health benefits.
Our skin is our largest detoxification organ, and it’s exposed to a huge amount of pollution every day. When performed regularly, Ayurvedic skin-brushing can help to detoxify the skin, stimulate the lymphatic system, enhance blood circulation and make the skin smoother and more supple.
Ayurvedic skin-brushing is best performed in the morning before you have a shower. You’ll need a large dry brush or an exfoliating glove. This set comes with both and is reasonably priced.
To perform the garshana, massage your entire body including your face and head using small, circular motions on the stomach and joints and long, sweeping motions on the arms and legs.
When brushing, ensure that the direction of your strokes is always towards your heart, using light pressure on thinner, more sensitive skin and deeper pressure on thicker skin.
In Ayurveda, the mornings are considered to be the best time to exercise. The choice of exercise is up to you – you can do some yoga, go for a jog, do a home workout video – the point is to get your body moving and break a sweat.
Breathe and Meditate
After exercising, spending approximately 10 minutes breathing and meditating. If you’re unsure of how to meditate or need some guidance, check out these free guided Chakra meditations.
Abhyanga (Oil Massage)
After you’ve finished exercising but before you have a shower, perform a self-massage with a natural massage oil. Massage the oil over your entire body, including your scalp. Performing a regular head massage like this can help to alleviate stress and tension and prevent headaches from occurring.
Make sure you perform your oil massage before showering, to lock in the bodies natural oils.
Cleanse your body, removing dirt and impurities, both physically and mentally. Allow this time to yourself to wash away any negative thoughts or emotions you may be feeling.
Now sit down and enjoy a light, nutritious breakfast, and a cup of herbal tea.
Does This Seem Like a Lot?
If you’re concerned that this seems like a lot, I encourage you to view this self-care ritual as something that is necessary to your well-being (because truly, it is.) When you stop viewing self-care as a luxury or something that you feel guilty about and start viewing it as a non-negotiable necessity, you will find it a lot easier to intentionally set aside the time to follow through and make self-care a habit.
You don’t have to immediately implement all of these steps to start seeing benefits. Feel free to start small, choosing one or two and gradually implementing more as you feel inclined.