Ayurveda, a sister science of Yoga, is a 5000 year old traditional medical system from India. In stark contrast to Western Medicine, where the emphasis is on symptom and disease management, Ayurveda seeks to prevent disease by gaining an understanding about your specific dosha, or body type, and following diet and lifestyle recommendations accordingly. All people, regardless of body type, can benefit from incorporating these five rituals into their morning routine.
#1 – Wake up early.
Wake up at least 30 minutes prior to sunrise. According to Ayurveda, this time of day is the most miraculous, where the earth begins to buzz with the energy of the impending sunrise. If you’re an early riser, you know the beauty of it all: the birds are chirping, the roosters crowing, the sky turns a magnificent color, the air feels clear. Starting your day surrounded by the natural beauty of the sunrise will set the tone for your state of mind for the day.
#2 – Check in with your intention.
Upon waking in the morning, before even getting out of bed, you’ll want to start your day on a positive note. Why not begin the day with a positive affirmation, an expression of gratitude, or a motivational quote? Each person needs a different intention in their lives to help them through. For example, perhaps you have always struggled with trust. A good intention to guide your day might be “I will trust my intuition and other people”. Or perhaps you have been struggling with feeling fearful. Perhaps beginning your day with “I choose to live with courage” will change the tone. If you’re overly critical of yourself and others, perhaps a gentle self-reminder to be kind is in order.
#3 – Drink water
You’re probably familiar with the advice that you should drink at least 8 8 ounce glasses of water per day. But how often do you get to the end of your day and realize that you’ve only had a glass or two? Ayurveda encourages you to drink at least 16 ounces of room temperature or warm water (never cold!) before you even leave your bed. This will help replenish your body after a long night of sleep, and will also help you to eliminate waste products from the body.
#4 – Tongue Scraping, Gandusha (oil swishing) and Tooth Brushing
Oral care is highly important, and Ayurveda has a great method to ensure complete oral health and disease prevention. It has been said that the condition of your mouth reflects the condition of your overall health.
First, purchase a stainless steel tongue scraper shaped like a “U” to scrape the entire tongue at one time. Scrape the tongue gently from the back to the tip, and be sure to reach as far back as possible (a small amount of gag reflex is fine) Doing this first thing in the morning helps to remove the bacteria-laden film from your tongue that might have built up overnight.
Next, take a tablespoon of coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil, and swish it around in your mouth for as long as you can. Preferably, you’ll work up to 15 or 20 minutes, but any amount of time is beneficial. It’s nice to do this in the shower, or as you prepare your breakfast, or any other task, so that you’ll be somewhat distracted from the fact that you’re swishing oil in your mouth. Practicing Gandusha helps to condition the gums, strengthen the teeth, and further remove bacteria from in between the teeth and below the gumline.
Finally, purchase a natural toothpaste made with Neem, a powerful antiseptic. Brush the teeth as usual.
#5 – Yoga and meditation
Begin your day by moving your body and quieting your mind. Roll out your mat and practice whichever form of yoga you prefer for at least 15 minutes, then take a seat for at least 20 deep conscious breaths. Ideally, you’ll work up to an hour of physical yoga practice (asana) and 20 minutes of seated meditation. You can practice at home, or at a local yoga studio. Generally, it’s great to practice yoga in the morning, but if that doesn’t fit in with your schedule, practicing in the evening is fine.
After you’re done with the above, eat a nourishing breakfast and go about your day. Maybe you won’t even need your coffee! See if practicing these five rituals helps you feel awake, alert, and ready for the challenges of the day ahead. For more information about Ayurveda, visit ayurveda.com.