Easy Daily Ayurveda for Optimal Health
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian natural health system, often referred to as Yoga’s sister science. It involves various daily practices and dietary guidelines, according to an individual’s constitution, to achieve and maintain one’s ultimate health and well being. In future posts I may delve deeper into ayurvedic principles, but for today I am offering a few simple practices that can benefit everyone. Particularly in the winter it can be tough to maintain health. You can incorporate these easy practices into your life today and I guarantee you will notice the difference!
1. Tongue scraping: Tongue scraping, practiced first thing in the morning, helps remove bacteria, fungi, debris, and dead cells from your tongue. It clears out toxins that can lead to health problems and bad breath. The film that accumulates on your tongue is a good indicator of your overall health. Brushing the tongue is good, but it doesn’t achieve nearly the same results. You can purchase a tongue scraper designed specifically for this purpose, or simply use a spoon. You may be shocked at what you see!
2. Dry brushing: Dry brushing your skin every day before showering exfoliates the skin, enhances circulation, and moves lymph fluid throughout your body. It is said to enhance the immune system and even reduce the appearance of cellulite. The skin is our largest organ and is responsible for much of our body’s detoxification. Dry brushing helps this process, and it just feels good! Hanging a dry brush by your shower is a good reminder to do this daily. You may want to start more slowly, a few times a week, while your skin adjusts to this new routine. Don’t brush too hard. Start from the ankles and work your way up in a gentle, circular motion. Remember to moisturize (see #3, below) after your shower (or directly after brushing if you are dry brushing without showering).
3. Abhyanga (oil massage): A daily self-massage with oil greatly enhances well being. It moisturizes the skin, lubricates the joints, and encourages circulation. Depending on the oils you use, it can warm you up or cool you down. Emotionally, taking care of yourself this way cultivates self-love. Ayurveda sometimes recommends abhyanga 10-15 minutes before a shower (you let the oil absorb and then wash it off). I usually do this after showering, though; this just works better for me. I always want to moisturize after a shower, and oil is more effective than lotion. Sesame oil is a good choice. I also really enjoy the warm, comforting scent of almond oil or coconut oil. Simply massaging the oil into your skin over the entire body is fine. If you have a little time, though, try the following:
Using both hands, massage down then up each leg about 8 times (applying half the pressure on the way back up) then in a circular motion at the joints (ankles, knees, hips, 8 times in one direction, then 8 the other). Do the same for each arm (circles at wrists, elbows, shoulders). Basically, you are massaging in the natural shape of the muscles. Then do your behind (both cheeks at once is fine, circle in both directions), your torso (big circles in one direction then the other), your lower back, side body (fingers slide between the ribs, one side at a time), shoulders, and upper back as best you can. It is so worth taking the time to do this!
Be well, and be happy!