Having a set routine to start each day is vital for maintaining optimum health of both mind and body. Following a routine will help to bring balance to your constitution and will help to regulate your body clock. It aids digestion, and the absorption and assimilation of nutrients. Following an Ayurveda morning routine or pattern each day also brings peace and discipline, raises self-esteem and generates happiness and contentment. A proper Ayurveda morning routine involves much more than simply waking and washing. You may find that it is difficult at first, but soon you will come to rely on the rituals you have established in your life and it will be difficult not to perform your routine each morning. The benefits you will enjoy are well worth the effort put in to make the routine part of your lifestyle.
1. Waking Up Early to start your Ayurveda morning routine
It is good to wake before the sun rises, when the world is fresh and there are peaceful energies around you. Of course sunrise varies with the seasons but generally speaking Pitta people should get up at 5.30am, Vatas at 6am and Kaphas at 4.30am. As soon as you wake spend a few moments contemplating your hands, and then sweep them gently over you face and chest down to the waist. This smooths and cleanses your aura. If you wish you can say a prayer before leaving your bed, or an affirmation in which you express gratitude for your life and for the love of mother Earth. Ground yourself by touching the floor with your right hand and then placing it on your forehead.
2. Clean the Face and Eyes
Splash your face with cool water and rinse out your mouth. Cleanse your eyes either with cool water or with one of the following eye washes:
Kapha Eyewash: Dilute cranberry juice in distilled water, 3-5 drops per teaspoon.
Pitta Eyewash: Rose water from organic rose petals is soothing and refreshing.
Tridoshic Eyewash: Try a triphala eyewash. Put a quarter of a teaspoon of the powder (made from dried herbs native to India: Haritaki, Bibhitaki and Amla) into a cup of water. Boil for ten minutes, allow to cool and strain. Massage the eyelids gently by rubbing in a circular motion. Blink rapidly seven times and rotate the eyeballs in both directions.
Keep a small towel for drying your face only, and ensure that you use a fresh one every day.
3. Drink Water in the Morning
Starting the day with a glass of water brings many benefits. It begins the process of digestion, washes the gastro intestinal tract and flushes the kidneys. Coffee or tea on the morning is not good as the caffeine and tannin puts a strain on your kidneys and adrenals. It can also cause constipation. Water should be drunk at room temperature, not ice cold.
Move your bowels after you have drunk the water. Establishing a routine will quickly train your body to perform this evacuation at the same time each day. If you find that you have difficulty in moving your bowels “to order” do persevere. Try alternate nostril breathing to get your muscles to relax. Afterwards, wash the anus with warm water and your hands with soap.
5. Scrape your Tongue
Scraping the tongue is very beneficial in many ways. It removes dead bacteria, stimulates the internal organs and aids digestion as well as bringing a freshness to the mouth after sleep. Gently scrape from the back to the tip at least seven times and no more than fourteen times. Stainless steel scrapers are best, although if you wish to personalize the experience use a copper scraper if you are Kapha, silver if Pitta and Vatas should use gold.
After scraping the tongue you should use a soft toothbrush and an astringent, bitter and pungent toothpaste to clean your teeth. Chewing on a licorice stick is a pleasant way to freshen the breath and also helps to keep the gums healthy. Gargling with warmed oil will help to strengthen teeth, gums and jaw. Use sesame or coconut oil and hold it in the mouth then swish vigorously around the teeth and gums. This practice will also improve the voice and help to remove wrinkles from the cheeks. When you have finished, spit the oil out and massage the gums gently with your finger.
6. Nasya (Nasal Drops)
Keeping the nasal passageways clear is vital for good overall health. Your nose is the door to your brain, so keeping the passageways lubricated and clean by using nasal drops, or Nasya, will help to bring mental clarity. It also clears the sinuses, improves the voice and aids vision.
Use oil or ghee for this purpose and put between 3 to 5 drops into the nose each morning. The oil should be warmed first.
Pittas: sunflower or coconut oil, brahmi ghee
Vatas: calamus root oil (vacha) ghee or sesame oil
Kaphas: vacha oil
7. Abhyanga (Apply oil to the Head and Body)
Massaging warmed oil into the scalp and skin can bring a deep feeling of contentment as well as helping to keep skin soft and supple. Massaging the scalp helps to prevent headaches, greying hair and baldness. If you also oil your body at bedtime this will help you to sleep more soundly. Learn more about Abhyanga.
Vatas: use warm sesame oil
Pittas: use warm coconut or sunflower oil
Kaphas: use warm mustard or sunflower oil
Deep breathing exercises are ideal for starting your day. They relax and calm the body, bring mental clarity and alertness and energize the system. Prana is the goodness of the air we breathe and is more than just oxygen. Prana is the life force of planet earth and when we practice pranayama we take in the nourishment and strength that our bodily organs need. You can also send prana outwards to friends, family and the planet. This brings its own feeling of well-being. The physical benefits of Pranayama are manifold. It brings fresh oxygen into the lungs and oxygenates the blood, which then nourishes the nervous system and internal organs. Learn more about Pranayama.
Vata people should perform alternate nostril breathing 12 times.
Pitta people are better with cooling shitali breaths. Curl up your tongue lengthwise and breathe through it 16 times.
Kapha people should perform 100 short fast breaths (bhastrika)
It is important to meditate both morning and evening in order to still the mind, bring relaxation to the body and improve mental function. Perform the meditation you are most comfortable with, or try the candle flame meditation. Light a white candle and place it before you where you can see it with ease. Focus on the flame and allow your eyes to soften. Gaze at the candle flame until you feel a slowing down of both mind and body. Meditation will bring harmony and peace into your life and will help you see things from a more balanced perspective, whatever the coming day may bring.