Have you ever heard about daily routines in Ayurveda? Probably yes! That is because Ayurveda loves daily routines, and here is why.
Lifestyle is one of the pillars of Ayurveda. It is believed that nourishment through lifestyle is of the utmost importance to achieve and maintain health. Ayurvedic living is mainly implemented and maintained through incorporation of routines in your daily life.
Nearly everywhere we look in nature, there are beings engaged in some sort of consistent daily routine. The natural world is deeply influenced by the rhythms of nature, such as the rising and setting of the sun and the cycles of the seasons. While there are seasonal variations, many plants and animals have a predictable daily rhythm that they live by. As humans, we have largely gotten away from this habit. Modern forms of energy allow us to heat and cool our homes and businesses, light the darkness, and engage with life at all hours of the day and night. Many of us even have jobs and other obligations that require us to keep irregular schedules. Layer that on top of the busyness and stress that infuses modern life, and it is no wonder that so many of our nervous systems now exist in a chronic state of high alert and increasingly we are unable to relax. In terms of doshas, or bodily systems, our Vata is triggered by this kind of lifestyle.
A routine relaxes the nervous system
At the most fundamental level our physiology is very much adapted to and supported by some sense of regularity. Having a daily routine offers the grounding, stability, and predictability that are largely absent in our hectic modern lives. The routine itself creates a number of familiar and comforting reference points throughout each day that send a resounding affirmation to the deep tissues of the body that all is well and that we can be at ease. When the body becomes accustomed to and learns to count on a daily routine that includes things like adequate rest, appropriate exercise, and a nourishing spiritual practice, the nervous system can finally begin to relax. As a result, a daily routine can create rejuvenation throughout the body without requiring any conscious awareness of the healing process.
A routine is an act of self love
Adopting a daily routine is also a very strong act of self-love. Each day, our routines provide us with an opportunity to prioritise our own health and wellbeing, regardless of what else might be going on in our lives. It becomes a reminder that we are worthy of loving attention every single day. The effect of caring for ourselves in this way is quite powerful. And for many, committing to a daily routine results in a greatly improved sense of wellness in a very short period of time.
A routine offers a framework for reflection
Besides self love or self care, having a daily routine in which your nervous system relaxes and settles down, offers you a framework for reflection. Do you experience any patterns of desire? Do you often have the need for certain foods, certain company, or certain distractions? As with any desire, there is always a quest for something else at the foundation of the desire. What that foundational desire is, is up to you to investigate. And this is exactly why Self Care, or Self Love is deemed so important in Ayurveda. It is not just about relaxation and getting some oil on yourself. No. Behind the idea of daily routines, of taking time out, is that this gives you a framework for reflection. It invites you to spend time with yourself and get to know yourself. Investigate your longings and your fears, seek what is behind your cravings and aversions. With this, a routine becomes a practice of awareness. And from that sense of awareness, we can offer a solid foundation of love to our family, our loved ones and eventually the whole world around us.
How to start a daily routine?
To our experience, the soft and gentle approach is the ones that stick. So choose one action that you want to incorporate in your mornings, and stick to that for some weeks. Once it has become a habit, choose another one and so on. It is far more important to be able to stick to your routine consistently than to try to do everything. A routine can have a soothing effect on your entire system, but much of the benefit will be lost if you can’t do it regularly. In this respect, less truly is more. And don’t worry, you don’t need to free up a lot of time for your routine. It might just take a few minutes.
What rituals does Ayurveda recommend?
Here we give you our 10 favourite morning rituals. This can be considered a guideline, but you can also develop your own routine or make it more appropriate to your life situation. For example, maybe your moment of stillness is when you walk consciously around in your garden, or maybe it works better for you to oil up and shower after the kids are to school.
1. Wake up at sunrise: upon awakening, see if you can be aware of how your body and mind feel.
2. Drink warm water: drink a glass of warm water, this helps to wash the G.I. tract, flush the kidneys and encourages bowel movement
3. Nature calls: Going to the bathroom, will help you to ‘leave yesterday’ behind and start fresh and anew. If you cannot have your bowel movement in the morning yet, the act of having a daily routine will aid digestion and elimination as well.
4. Tongue scraping: You ever noticed upon awakening a white coat on your tongue and a not so pleasant breath? This is usually due to Ama, which is undigested stuff/ toxins, fungi, dead cells and food debris. During the night bacteria have ideal conditions to accumulate on the surface of our tongue. So gently scraping your tongue in the morning (5-8 times from back to front) helps to remove that and stimulate digestion.
5. Oil pulling: take 1-2 cold pressed sesame oil and swirl it around in your mouth for 10-15 min, and then spit it out. Oil pulling strengthens gums, fights bacteria and is a natural whitener. For the busy people out there, you can do your oil pulling while doing other things (preparing breakfast, showering etc)
6. 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. Our nose is the door to the brain, so nose drops nourish prana and bring intelligence.
7. Apply oil to the head & body (Abhyanga): 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.
8. Exercise: Regular exercise, improves circulation, strength, and endurance. It helps to relax improving sleep, digestion and elimination. Exercise daily to half of your capacity, which is until sweat forms on the forehead, armpits, and spine.
9. Bathe/ shower: Bathing is cleansing and refreshing. It removes sweat, dirt, and fatigue, brings energy to the body, clarity to the mind, and holiness to your life.
10. Breathe & meditate: Sit quietly and do some deep breathing exercises followed by a few minutes of meditation.
After this, nourish your belly and have your breakfast! What a treat 🙂
We hope this inspires you to develop your personal daily routine. Remember to take it slow and easy!