Dinacharya (daily routine) is a simple, and yet profound way to bring radical change in one’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. How is that? Well, simply put, establishing a daily routine is one of the best things that anyone can do to assure your balanced state of mind. A daily routine utilizes your natural biological clock, according to nature’s rhythm. A routine aids digestion, absorption, assimilation and generates a natural feeling of self esteem. It also promotes discipline, peace, happiness as well as longevity. So why not give it a try?
When we wake up too early or too late, eat meals at all times of day, work all day, stress all day, this creates imbalance in our lives. When we adopt a daily routine, we become balanced, less stressed, and in good health. The following are guides to assist you in planning your own personal morning routine.
1. Wake up Early
Ideally waking up just before sunrise is best. It’s when the rest of the world naturally wakes up (except for us unbalanced humans). It is believed in Ayurveda that waking up just before sunrise promotes a Sattvic (peaceful) state of mind for your day. While waking up later in the day, say in Kapha time (later than sunrise) will promote those same Kapha type qualities like sluggishness & lethargy. This “before sunrise” time varies with the seasons, so train yourself to wake up without an alarm clock… with nature. And even better if you can have your eastern facing window (sunrise) looking at you when you wake up. That way you truly do wake up with the sun.
Waking up early is especially important for those who have trouble sleeping, or are suffering from insomnia. We tend to stay up late, and sleep in late. For those who this sounds familiar, you will surly benefit from an early rising. Do not sleep during the day (you may be tired) but you will defiantly be able to get to bed at a decent time.
2. Give Thanks
Before you even get out of bed in the morning, as soon as you open your eyes, Give Thanks. Express gratitude to that which you believe to be your higher power, whatever or whoever that may be. Showing gratitude for that which is good in your life will create that resonance in the universe and you will draw more of that which is good into your life. Give Thanks!
3. Wash Up!
Get into your clean place Make these next suggestions your morning “waking” meditation routine. Be present while you are cleansing. Do not allow your mind to run away with you. Be in the moment. Allow yourself to begin each day with mindfulness.
Wash your face, mouth & eyes. Splash your face with cold water, feel the water on your skin.
Brush your teeth & scrape your tongue (this is really easy, and really important for health) A quick note about tongue scraping: In Ayurveda we call that coating on the tongue, Ama. This Ama is actually a toxic substance, or undigested food particles. It is best to get rid of this, and you can do so by scraping your tongue. They actually make Tongue Scrapers, but I find that a regular old spoon works just fine. You will be amazed at what you get off your tongue.
Then you can rinse out your mouth with a bit of oil (sesame works best). Holding sesame oil in your mouth for a couple of minutes, a couple of times a day does wonders for the health of your mouth. Trust me your gums will thank you! This practice strengthens your teeth, gums and jaw. It also removes wrinkles from your cheeks.
Finally, wash out your eyes with clean water (or even better rose water). Blink your eyes rotate them around, look from side to side, just warming them up!
4. Drink Water
Drinking water in the morning (room temperature or warm, NOT cold water) will help to wash out the GI tract, flush the kidneys and stimulate elimination. Wait about an hour before enjoying your morning coffee or tea after you drink your glass of water. This one step alone can make a huge difference in the way you assimilate and digest for the remainder of the day. How simple… just drink water! Just a little note about Water Drinking in Ayurveda – Cold water should ALWAYS be avoided as this can cause Ama or toxins to build up in the system, and also slows digestion. Drinking warm or room temperature water is recommended.
A morning poo is one of the best things that you can do! Drinking your morning water and sitting on the loo at set times can actually stimulate the bowels to move. Having a morning elimination practice gets rid of yesterday’s news and begins the day in a fresh new way!
6. Nasal Drops (Nasya)
Wow! Really? Yes! Putting warm ghee or oil into each nostril in the morning may sound strange to some of you but the benefits are many. It lubricates the nose, cleans the sinuses, enhances the voice, and improves vision as well as mental clarity. Plus it feels nice. Our nose is the doorway to the brain, so nose drops nourish the prana and help to unlock hidden intelligence.
7. Apply Oil to your body & head
This will improve circulation as well as keep the skin soft and wrinkle free. Vata types should try warming sesame oil, pitta should use cooling coconut and kapha types should choose a more stimulating oil (like mustard diluted with sesame or medicated calamus). Daily oil massage (referred to as abhyanga) can also bring happiness. I usually recommend to my clients that during their morning self massage that they think of and project love onto themselves during the massage. Creating a loving and caring attitude for themselves first thing in the morning is a great way to set the loving speed for the day. This will help to not only created softness in the body, but in the heart as well.
8. Take a warm bath (or shower)
Best to do after your loving oil massage to remove the excess oil. It also removes any leftovers from last nights sleep. Morning washing brings energy to the body, clarity to the mind, and holiness to your life.
We all know that this is important. Beginning the day with yoga asanas has many benefits such as an improvement in circulation, strength and endurance. It also promotes sleep, aids digestion & elimination. However the exercise that you choose should also match your Ayurvedic constitution. A Kapha body type does well with fast, aerobic type exercise like quick paced sun salutations and yoga practice (hot yoga is good). Pitta a more moderate (think cooling) routine like walking on the beach, swimming, moderate yoga practice, etc. Vata should choose a more flowing and grounding exercise routine focusing on creating stability and calmness of mind like gentle meditative asana and stretching.
One of the best things that we can do to increase energy (prana) is Pranayama. One easy exercise that everyone can do is Alternate Nostril Breathing (Anuloma Viloma). This type of exercise should be practiced after your morning yoga session. Practicing alternate nostril breathing will help to balance the right and left hemispheres of your body and create a calmness in the mind (in preparation for meditation in step 10).
To practice Anuloma Viloma:
- Sit in any comfortable position. Close your eyes.
- 2. While closing your Right nostril slowly inhale through the Left for a count of 4.
- Close both nostrils and hold the breath for a count of 16.
- Exhale slowly through the Right nostril for a count of 8.
- Inhale through the Right for a count of 4.
- Close both nostrils and hold the breath for a count of 16.
- Exhale slowly through the Left nostril for a count of 8.
- Repeat 4 to 10 times steps 1 – 7.
Now you are ready to meditate. It is so important to develop a daily meditation practice. The benefits are endless. It reduces stress and helps to create a calm space to begin your day, and who doesn’t need that. Remember that by sitting in meditation for 15 to 30 minutes each morning, you are not trying to “do” anything. You just are. As long as you are simply sitting in quiet contemplation, you are receiving the benefits of meditation. So don’t try to “do” and just allow yourself to just BE. Every day, for at least 15 minutes every morning. And remember if you are too busy to meditate for 15 minutes daily, then you should sit for at least an hour.
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