In today’s busy world, many of us don’t get enough sleep. Our work days are long, our families keep us busy, and the wheels in our heads turn all through the night. Did I feed the cat? Did I remember to pay the gas bill? I hope Lucy does well on her math test tomorrow. Oh, crap. I forgot to call Jim today! We toss and turn all night, and before you know it, it’s time to start all over again. Even those of us who are fortunate enough to get six to eight hour a night start our days in a hurry. All of this stress and rushing around can have a serious toll on your mental and physical health. These simple practices are beneficial to men and women of any age and body type, and allow you to ease into your day mindfully. Creating a routine also gives you a reason to look forward to getting out of bed, so you will hit snooze less, feel better, and be more productive!
Wake Up Early and Gently
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! What a wretched sound to wake up to. I don’t know about you, but even when I hear that sound in a movie or on the television, it makes me cringe. Being startled awake creates adrenaline, which can make you feel stressed out. Talk about getting up on the wrong side of the bed! Try setting your alarm to play a peaceful song, or just a song that makes you feel good. Zen alarm clocks ease you into the morning by gradually chiming louder and louder. They can be pretty expensive, but most cell phones come equipped with something similar these days. Losing the harsh alarm and the abrupt wake up will make your morning far more joyful.
Water, Water, Water!
Everybody knows that it is important to drink water, yet most of us opt to begin our day by loading up with coffee. While coffee is believed to have many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease, too much can also lead to dehydration and constipation. In Ayurveda, the digestive fire is known as Agni, and it plays an important roll in a person’s well-being. When you choose to drink a glass or two of water in the morning instead of a pot of coffee, you will notice a difference in how you feel and even how you look. Pour your water the night before, or leave bottled water out so that it will be room temperature or warmer when you wake up. Add a slice of lemon or some lemon juice. Citrus is not only invigorating in the morning, but it also helps eliminate toxins in the digestive track and promotes healthy bowel movements. The water will stimulate peristalsis, introducing fresh blood allowing your colon and intestines to be cleansed. You will be amazed how this simple practice will make you feel. Many find that they shed a few pounds without even trying. You will have more energy and better regular bowel movements. Not only will you feel like a million bucks, but drinking water in the morning (and throughout the day) will hydrate your skin and your eyes and leave them clear and glowing. Which brings us to the next step…
Face and Eyes
Seven is considered to be a lucky number for many reasons all over the world. There are seven major chakras in the body. Begin your day by splashing your face with cool water seven times. This will hydrate your skin and help wake you up. Open your eyes and your mouth, allowing them to also be cleansed and cooled as well.
Tongue and Teeth
Have you ever noticed the film on your tongue taking on a yellowish color? This can be caused by a build up of bile, or Ama, in your system. This is not something generally recognized or addressed in the west, but many eastern cultures offer up remedies. Once you get your Agni in check, the yellow color should disappear, but undigested ama and acid reflux can still cause your tongue to get fuzzy. Is that really something you want in your mouth? Yuck! So make sure when you brush your teeth, you give the old tongue a good scrape. If you don’t want to go out and buy a tongue scraper, try running dental floss over your tongue until it looks clean.
You don’t want to overeat in the morning, but breakfast is an essential part of the day, especially if you plan on being active. Your agni is not at its peek until around lunch time, so try keeping it light in the a.m. Did you know that two bananas gives the average body enough fuel for a ninety minute work out? Try some simple sun salutations. They’re easy, even if you have never done yoga before. Allow your body to stretch out and your blood to flow. If you find the positions too difficult, try a mountain pose, warrior 1 and 2, or whatever you feel comfortable with. Just get moving!
Bathing and Massage
Cleanliness is important in Ayurveda, for both your body and your mind. If you want to delve into aromatherapy, there are certain scents that are believed to be beneficial to each individual Dosha (your Ayurvedic body type.) Pitta types may enjoy cooling scents such as mint and lemongrass. If you are a Vata type, try something warm like amber or ginger. Kaphas may benefit from warm and citrusy scents like lemon or bergamot and clove or sage. Try adding essential oils to your bath water or using naturally scented shampoos and body washes. After your bath, give yourself a gentle massage. This will get your blood flowing, stimulating your agni and giving you more energy to start they day with. End your routine by sitting quietly. Place a drop of your favorite essential oil on the tip of your ring finger and slowly massage it into your third eye in a circular motion. This will give you a moment to relax and start your day off peacefully.