Ayurvedic Morning Routine
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
How you start your day is how you live your day, have you ever heard that saying? If you begin your day with peace and tranquility, you'll take on that mindfulness throughout your day
(I'm not saying I'm never having shitty days, but they would probably be much worse without my routine.)
For the uninitiated, Ayurveda is an ancient (like, thousands of years old) Indian system of holistic healing. It uses food, spices, herbal remedies, bodywork and lifestyle changes to boost your health and balance the body, mind and spirit.
The benefits of a morning routine
When you establish a healing morning routine, you cleanse the body of toxins that have accumulated overnight and you prepare your mind & body to take on the day. It has many mental and physical benefits:
sharper and more centred mind
decreased level of stress
Not a morning person?
"I don't have time", "I'm not a morning person" is what I often hear. Well, you always have the option to create more time if you really want to commit to it. You could start by pint-pointing your time-wasters such as the number of hours you spend watching TV and/or scrolling your social media before you go to bed. Could you maybe reduce these? Could you prepare your outfit and your children's backpack before bedtime?
Call me crazy, but for the past two years my alarm clock has been set for 4:45am on weekdays, and I get up at 5am (almost without fail). It didn't happen overnight though, I kinda trained myself. From 6:30am, I first moved my alarm to 6am. A week later, 5:45am, a week after that 5:30am, then 5:15, and so on until I reached 4.45am. I started when I was training to become a Yoga teacher, and it has become part of my routine so I can squeeze in my own daily yoga practice.
I'm absolutely not saying that you should get up at 5 every morning, just showing you how you can get to creating a little more time for you in the morning. Maybe an extra 30 minutes is all you need, and it's so much worth it!
Ayurvedic routine guidelines to bring more love into your day
Your morning routine might be different than mine or anyone else's, but below are some general Ayurvedic guidelines to help you establish something that resonates with you:
Rise before sunrise (between 5am and 7am).
Take a few deep breaths, recall your dreams and express gratitude.
Get up and gently stretch your body.
Go to the bathroom to evacuate (even if you don't have the urge, sit for a few minutes, without forcing).
Splash your face with cold water.
Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue (see below).
Drink something nice and steamy (see below)
Get moving (yoga ideally, but it could also be a brisk walk or dancing to your favourite tune)
Invigorate your skin with a self-massage
Have a warm shower
Have a warming breakfast
And off you go, ready to start the day with vibrant energy and in a radiant mood!
It doesn't have to be in this order, but it gives you a good idea of the things you could do. Now let's see some of these practices more into detail.
Meditate, Breathe, Pray
Just a quick word on this; whether you call it prayer, meditation, or even mindful stillness, it's much easier in the early morning because your brain hasn’t had the opportunity to start overthinking yet or get distracted by social media or everything on your to-do list.
Don’t worry too much about where or how you meditate, even sitting up in bed with your eyes closed for a few minutes will do you some good. You can also simply take a few deep breaths so you start the day with a calm and relaxed mind.
Have you ever notice a white coat on your tongue in the morning? Or maybe you've woken up with bad breath? Well, if you get the small the taste of last night's pasta, it means that the food is not yet quite digested. And if there is a lot of coating on the tongue, it means there is too much toxin - called Ama - in the system.
According to Ayurveda, all toxins begin in the mouth. When you let the tongue bacteria accumulate, the toxicity spreads down your digestive system to the entire body. that's the white coating. Scrapping the tongue is therefore as important as brushing your teeth, and yet most of us don't think about it.
Stainless steel or copper are the best option when it comes to choosing your tongue scrapper.
Hold the scraper with one hand on each end.
Stick out your tongue facing a mirror (and observe!). Place the scraper at the back of your tongue (don't gag yourself!)
Gently scrape the surface of the tongue in long strokes from back to front. You'll notice Ama, the white mucus, accumulate.
Repeat about 7 to 10 times.
Rice the scraper and your mouth.
Brush your teeth (unless you do oil pulling).
Oil pulling the the practice of swishing oil in your mouth to remove the toxins - it's the Ayurvedic Listerine. It has many benefits such as curing tooth decay, improving breath, preventing cavities, whitening teeth, strengthening gums. It also improves digestion and boosts the immune system. It also helps to get rid of a hangover (not that Ayurveda recommends drinking alcohol at all!).
Vata > Sesame oil (grounding and warming)
Pitta > Coconut oil (cooling)
Kapha > Sesame oil (to boost digestive system)
1. Place 1 tablespoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around for as long as you can. Start with 2-3 minutes (note that Ayurveda recommend 20 minutes).
2. Spit out in the trash (not in the sink, it might clog it).
3. Rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth.
Tips: While you do that, you can get breakfast ready, feed the cats, walk the dog, do your regular morning tasks - no need to stand still.
Nasal cleansing (Neti & Nasya )
Pollution, chemicals and smog are typical in urban environments and negatively affect our breathing. As we inhale, our nose acts as a filter, and becomes filled with toxicity. It's therefore a good idea to clean it out from time to time.
Also, according to Ayurveda, the nose is the doorway to the brain? By cleansing the nasal passages, you improve your breathing; cure headaches; release tension; and overcome colds, flus, and allergies.
Neti cleansing practice is not necessarily pleasant, but you don't have to do it everyday either. It's the process of cleansing the nasal passages with warm salt water. You can do it once a week for example (and also in the evening if you prefer); although if you're suffering from sinus infection or allergies, you might want to do it several times a day.
Neti pots come in ceramic, metal and plastic (but I would avoid plastic). You can find them in pharmacies and in some organic stores.
I suggest you watch this video to have clear instructions on how to perform it.
Nasya is the practice of lubricating the nasal cavities with oil, and it's best perform after neti cleansing (but can also be done on its own).)
Daily use: Place 1-2 drops on clean fingertip and apply into the nostrils nostril. Repeat on opposite side.
Weekly use: With your head tilted back, apply 3-5 drops of oil into nostril. Inhale Deeply. Repeat on the opposite side.
You can use Sesame oil (or ghee), or Nasya oil.
Nasya helps to improve mental clarity, it enlivens consciousness and intelligent, relieves stress, and also helps to cleanse the sinuses and improves vision.
Self-oil massage (Abhyanga)
That's my new favourite self-care practice, it's a wonderful way of nurturing yourself everyday. It requires about 5 minutes, but trust me, they're worth it.
Self-oil massage has so many amazing benefits: it improves circulation, calms the mind, tones the muscles and detoxifies the body. The skin of the entire body becomes soft, smooth and brightened.
Take about 80ml-100ml of warm (not hot) oil, begin with the head and neck, and then move down to the chest, stomach, back, arms, hands, and finally the buttocks, legs and feet. Massage the oil in with long strokes on the limbs and circular motions around the joints.
You can watch this video if you want to know how to do the full-body Abhyanga massage.
When oiling the body, give love to yourself. Your body is your temple, your most precious possession, and it should be treated with the same care you'd give to a baby.
Vata > Sesame oil or almond oil.
Pitta > Coconut oil or sunflower oil (no need to warm up the oil though)
Kapha > Sesame oil or almond oil
Tips to warm up the oil:
- rub it between your hands if you don't have much time.
- fill a glass bottle with the amount of oil you need and either:
* put it in a pot of hot water over the stove (bain-marie style)
* use an electric baby-bottle warmer, it's perfect as the oil gets to the exact temperature. That's what I do and it's awesome!
One last thing: oil your scalp and give yourself a head massage once a week; it's amazing for the hair and also super soothing for the mind.
Drink something hot
After you've scraped your tongue, swished oil around your mouth and brush you teeth, you can finally drink something hot.
- A pint of warm water (about 1/2 l)
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2-3 turns of black pepper mill
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
Warm beverages like hot water with lemon or herbal tea cleanse your body, dissolve Ama (the toxins), stimulate Agni (digestive fire), and boost your metabolism. Mind you, drinking hot water is more hydrating than cold water; it prevents and treats constipation by hydrating the internal organs (good for Vata), and it also hydrates dry skin from within (also good for Vata), which gives you a vibrant glow.
I hope this inspires you to make some time for yourself in the morning to nurture your body and your mind. You don't have to start all these practices at once, pick the one(s) that resonate(s) with you at the moment and experiment. See how you feel, listen to your body and observe how you feel during the day.
Don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have any questions or want to further explore.
Love & Light.