My Cherished Self-Care Routines

My Cherished Self-Care Routines

From Our Guest Blogger:  Sandra Wohlers of Snehana Ayurveda

For the love of living …. Ayurveda

The seed of desire for life itself is all one needs to learn the practice and experience the benefits of an Ayurvedic lifestyle.  Watering this seed with even some of the most basic tools of Ayurvedic self-care will surely lead one in the direction of a happy beneficial life, making the desire to live even stronger.  The purpose of Ayurveda is simply to provide longevity by preserving health and curing disease so that one can make the most of this human life in preparation for a spiritually peaceful transition.  Over the last eight years of learning and practicing Ayurveda I have experimented with various techniques to help bring a healthy balance and added value to my lifestyle.  Though I have enjoyed most of the Ayurveda experiences I have encountered, many of them come and go.  However, over the years I have found certain simple practices that I have integrated into my morning self care routine on a weekly if not daily basis.  This is a brief outline of my morning self-care routine techniques that can easily be integrated into a modern life.

My morning routine begins by getting to bed before 10 pm with a few contemplative moments and breath awareness before I turn out the lights and snuggle up. Then when the rooster crows, I begin my routine more or less in this order.

  1. Breath of Gratitude Upon Waking:  Waking with the sun is a great way to begin your routine.  So starting your routine just before sunrise with a few conscious deep breaths and gratitude for another day of life is a very simple and positively effective beginning to any day!
  2. Elimination: The call of nature to eliminate any bodily wastes first thing will help to regulate and reset your digestive system.  Your bowel movement should be a healthy brown soft portion like a banana with little odor.  If there is presence of foul odor, mucus, undigested food particles or it is too dry or thin it is a sign that your eating habits need to be adjusted.
  3. Drink Warm Lemon Water:  Drinking warm lemon water will help to clear and stimulate the digestive system and flush the kidneys.
  4. Tongue Scraping: Using a spoon or “U” shaped utensil to scrape the tongue helps to remove bacteria and other build up of toxins, reduce bad breath, improve your sense of taste and the overall health of your digestive system.    Every morning before you brush your teeth, look at your tongue in the mirror.   Your tongue should be nice and pink!  If you notice a pasty white film on top, that is a sign of poor digestion resulting in a build up of ama or toxins.  Simply use a spoon or tongue scraper starting at the back of the tongue and scrape forward 7-10 times to remove that sticky white layer.  This is probably one of the easiest and greatly beneficial techniques to integrate into your morning routine since you can do it just before you brush your teeth. It only takes a few strokes!
  5. Oil Pulling: The use of coconut or sesame oil as a mouth swish after scraping your tongue and brushing your teeth helps to reduce bad breath, prevent cavities, tooth decay and gum disease by reducing the amount of bacteria in your mouth.
  6. Dry Brushing: Using a natural fiber brush on the skin helps to eliminate dry skin, improves blood circulation and promotes lymph flow/drainage for a daily detox.  It also stimulates the nervous system and leaves you feeling invigorated and energised for the day.  I was resistant to this one for a while and now it has become my new favourite!
  7. Abhyanga:  Abhyanga (self oil massage) aids in detoxification, stimulates lymphatic flow, soothes the nervous system, improves circulation and nourishes the skin.  This practice alone has given me the most body/soul nourishment and a peaceful loving balance in the mind.  Taking the time, even if it is just once a week to start, to make your own ritual of deep self care that includes a full body oil massage is one of the most valuable gifts I have received from Ayurveda. Hop in the shower afterwards to rinse off excess oil.
  8. Yoga/Exercise: Practicing some light exercise like yoga or walking is a great way to create more energy, space and strength for the body to move throughout the day.  Exercising to half your capacity is enough to get your body warmed up without getting tired out before you day has begun.
  9. Meditation: Following your morning routine, whatever combination or order it falls in, with even a short meditation greatly improves the benefits that you will receive from your efforts.  When you take time to observe your intentions and actions of self care, you will begin to see and feel the benefits more deeply.  Most likely other people will notice and comment also.  Someone who is genuinely self loving truly glows and inspires others!
  10. Breakfast!: Integrating that mindfulness into your food adds extra nourishment to your day.  Eating a whole food breakfast appropriate for your dosha and the season.  Fresh fruit, oatmeal with warm almond milk and spices or scrambled eggs and kale are usually my go to breakfast goodies.

This routine more or less has helped me through the most challenging times and greatly improved my life even when it was already flowing.  Even though my evolving personal practice of Ayurveda flows in waves, I know in my deepest tissues that the more I practice the more balanced and loving I feel.  The multitude of benefits are worth the discipline.  Give yourself the love and care you deserve.

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