Your lifestyle, career, and happiness all depend on how effectively you fill your own well, so to speak, through self-care. You probably already know the basics, but it’s a great time to add in an Ayurveda perspective to deepen your self-care practice.
For those of you who might not already be familiar, Ayurveda is an ancient healing practice that comes from India. Over thousands of years, healers developed philosophies and practices that allowed people to heal their lives and their bodies. The word Ayurveda simply means “life” (Ayur) and “knowledge” (Veda).
What is Ayurveda All About?
Ayurveda is made up of a large body of knowledge that helps people heal all aspects of their lives, not just illness. It offers wisdom on caring for the body and mind on a daily basis, which is why it offers us to much when it comes to self-care practices.
One aspect of Ayurveda that many people are familiar with is the idea of balance and the Ayurvedic doshas. The general idea is that every person is made of elements that need to be in balance in order for us to feel good and healthy. Our dosha is a mix of our default state (genetics, mostly) and our current experience (environment). Many of the ayurvedic recommendations are specific to an individual’s needs.
Self-Care with Ayurveda
There are many Ayurvedic self-care practices, though, that just about everyone can do. These are simple practices that can make a big difference in your day. With consistent practice, you can work to transform your life through these simple acts of self-care.
1. Start your day gently.
Balancing out your circadian rhythms are an important part of achieving the Ayurvedic balance. If you can, try to wake up with the sun and seek the most gentle way of waking up that you can. Avoid alarms, if possible, or at least choose a more gentle type of alarm that will wake you up more slowly and naturally.
2. Take some time to boost your mind.
A short mindfulness session focused on calm and gratefulness will help you start out your day on the right foot. While you might not have a lot of time in the morning and a long list of things to do, even just a quick 5-minute session will do wonders for your day.
3. Drink warm lemon water.
This practice is calming to your body and also helps your digestion get going. Just heat up some water and add a little fresh lemon juice. Sip on it while you’re getting ready to help out your intestinal tract and kidneys, and give your body a gentle wakeup call.
4. Use dry skin brushing for better circulation.
Before you hop in the shower, practice a little dry skin brushing. This helps to invigorate your body’s largest organ – your skin! It removes dead skin cells so your fresh skin can breathe, as well as helps your blood vessels deliver more blood to the surface. You’ll get a natural glow, warm up, and help your body deliver more oxygen where it’s needed.
5. Take care of your mouth with oil pulling.
The practice of oil pulling is an ancient one and its purpose is to help clear out your mouth for better hygiene and health. You simply take a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of fresh sesame oil and swish it around in your mouth for 10-15 minutes in the morning. While swishing, you can work on other things that need to be done. Once enough time has passed and the oil has become thick, you can spit it out and rinse out your mouth. It will help clean your gums, teeth, and those hard-to-get corners of your mouth, promoting excellent oral care.
6. Start your digestion off right with tongue scraping.
While tongue scraping might seem a little weird at first, you’ll notice a big difference in your mouth feel and the smell of your breath. Any tongue scraper will do, then just scrape from the back of your tongue to the front 5-10 times. You’ll get off all that white fuzzy stuff (bacteria and other yucky material) and immediately notice how much better your mouth feels. You’ll get your digestive tract going better too, but clearing out all that bacteria in the way.
7. Clean out your sinuses with a neti-pot.
While you’re working on your mouth and skin, don’t forget about your sinus cavity. A lot of bad breath starts there, as bacteria get trapped. Keep it clean to wash away the bacteria, which is really helpful during flu season and for anything who gets regular sinus infections. Put ¼ of a teaspoon of quality salt into your neti-pot, then fill with warm water. Then tip the neti-pot up against one nostril while you lean over a sink. Let the warm salt water run through that nostril, then repeat with the other nostril. After you’re finished, use a little sesame oil to lubricate the nostrils and to seal in the clean environment.
8. Treat your body right with self-massage.
Lots of self-care advocates talk about getting massages, but there are enormous benefits to also practicing self-massage. By giving yourself a daily massage, you enhance your body’s state of relaxation, increase the feel-good hormones in your body, and encourage your muscles to let go of tension. Self-massage can work in whatever way is best for you, but the Ayurvedic style is done with warmed sesame oil. You can simply sit in a warm area and apply the warmed oil to each part of your body, massaging gently. This massage is great for your muscles, circulation, and state of mind, while the oil will help deeply moisturize your skin.
9. Take time out during the day.
When the day gets stressful, just take some time to relax your mind and focus on the things in your life you feel grateful for. Sit in a soft place, think about things you love, and sip on some warm tea. By giving your mind a reset break, you’ll be helping your Ayurvedic dosha be more balanced and you’ll be able to work more effectively.
10. End the day with peace.
Sleep is a crucial part of Ayurvedic self-care practice. Just as you want to practice waking up gently, you also want to practice going to sleep in a gentle way. Turn off electronics at least an hour before you climb in bed and turn off the harsh lights that trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime. Engage in activities that aren’t mind-stimulating and that tell your body that it’s time to wind down for the day. Focus on positive, relaxing things and avoid anything that might trigger stress or wakefulness. Climb in bed at about 10:00 pm, relaxed and ready for deep, deep sleep.
Ayurveda Self-Care for Life
While these tips just skim the surface of what Ayurveda can offer, it’s a great place to start. Self-care is so important to ensure you’re able to feel positive and at peace with your life. You’ll feel more clear-headed, grateful, and energetic. These Ayurvedic practices can help you focus on ways to give yourself excellent each and every day of your life, bringing a wellness lifestyle that will enhance your experience of life.
Interested in diving deeper in Ayurvedic healing? Find out how you can heal and help others by becoming an IAWP Wellness Coach!