The Morning Routine to Kick-start Your Day
All right, Vata season, let’s do this!
As the season changes, what’s going on around us? The temperature is dropping, leaves are changing colors and falling, and we feel change within. Vata — light, airy, dry and governing movement — has great qualities. In our bodies, when Vata is in balance it is expressed as mental alertness, ability to fall asleep easily, good circulation, calm demeanor, balanced digestion and elimination, and balanced body temperature. But oh boy! When Vata is out of balance, we may notice that we are tired and forgetful, spaced out; we may experience difficulty falling asleep, occasional constipation, poor circulation (cold feet & hands), or occasional feelings of anxiousness and worry. So, how do we find that balance during fall when Vata begins to move? To counteract its uneven, variable nature, one of the best antidotes to balance Vata is regular routine! (Those with Vata disorders often find themselves in a rush, always in a hurry. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important to structure a more relaxed daily routine. Take it easy and slow down; enjoy abhyanga, warm baths and turning off electronics — disengage. This is important for mental, emotional and physical health!)
Start the morning with the intention to cultivate balance, first thing. When we take the time to invest in our ayurvedic daily routine, called dinacharya, we are kick-starting our day in the most powerful way — balanced, ready for anything!
Ok, here we go.
Make a Plan
To be successful, routine needs a plan. So map out the morning according to your own personal schedule. For example, if you have to be at work at 8:30 a.m., it's easy to fit this routine in if you wake up by 6:00 a.m. An early wake-up call, with the rising sun, is smooth when accompanied by an early bedtime. Ayurveda recommends going to bed by 10:00 p.m. during the drowsy Kapha time of night (6:00 - 10:00 p.m.).
Dinacharya: Ayurvedic Daily Routine (Vata Loves a Plan)
- Wake up in the morning before 6:00 a.m.
- If easy and natural… eliminate: empty bowel and bladder. Don’t strain. Ayurveda never wants us to resist healthy natural urges, or strain by trying to force them.
- Wash your face.
- Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue (Tongue scraping, really… don’t roll your eyes! See instructions below).
- Afterward, this is a good time to drink a cup of water.
- Perform abhyanga — warm ayurvedic oil self-massage.
- It's best to wait 10-15 minutes for the oil to soak in between your massage and bath. If you don’t have time, immediately jumping in the shower is OK. The waiting time while letting the oil soak in could also be spent swishing oil in your mouth, known as oil-pulling.
- Bathe or shower. Use warm rather than hot water.
- Perform Yoga Asanas and breathing, called Pranayama.
- Practice Transcendental Meditation®, or the technique of your choice, for twenty minutes.
- Eat a light breakfast — a stewed apple or pear and/or warm cereal is ideal.
- Start your day with our herbal food supplements and our Ayurvedic Rasayanas.
- Then… work or school — you are ready to do this!
Take these recommendations one step at a time, and don’t feel overwhelmed. And remember to cultivate a habit of taking it easy and slowing down. Balance that Vata!
Here are the specifics on these ayurvedic morning routines:
According to ayurvedic principles, it is preferred to evacuate the bowels in the morning. Our body's clock leans toward following the cycles of nature. During the nighttime, lunar energy is more predominant, so our body focuses on calming and cooling. In the morning, when the sun rises, our body goes into absorption phase when agni — the active, burning and transforming solar energy — dominates. If, during the day, we carry around the waste material we created at night, we may absorb some of that waste material (toxins) back into our system, weakening immunity and leaving us feeling fatigued, drowsy and irritable during the day. Feeling energetic and relaxed are signs of proper evacuation. Twice a day is normal, but at least once a day is essential. Bowel movements affect our entire physiology, so don’t ignore urges and don't wait! Through routine and balanced diet, we can tune into our body's internal clock and make regular elimination a part of our daily routine. Taking Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) can help encourage natural morning elimination.
The use of nature’s intelligence, ayurvedic herbs, can help smooth the elimination process into regularity. Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) is the traditional herbal formula, and mild laxative, that gently purifies, and when used over a long period of time, it allows even the deepest tissues and organs of the body to release toxins. It is a combination of three remarkable fruits — amla, chebulic myrobalan and belleric myrobalan — each possessing the superior rejuvenative and health-giving qualities known as a Rasayana. Because Organic Digest Tone contains three elixirs in one compound, it is considered one of the most valuable herbal preparations in the world. In addition, a fourth ingredient, cabbage rose, is added to support the synergy of the other ingredients, allow long term use and promote their effectiveness.
“Ok, ok….scrape my tongue?” We guarantee you, do it for one week and you will never quit. It is like brushing your teeth. Once you start, your mouth just doesn’t feel clean without doing it. It is also a great “meter” for ama, or digestive impurities (the result of incomplete or inefficient digestion). If you have a lot of residue, then think about your diet and routine and make changes. Tongue scraping, or Jihwa Prakshalana, has long been an important part of the recommended ayurvedic daily routine. If you have ever noticed a film or coating (which can range in color from clear to white, yellow, or green) on your tongue in the morning, your body may have a build-up of ama that can compromise your digestive and immune systems. This simple, yet important, method of cleaning the tongue removes ama, the toxic coating or film, before it gets reabsorbed by the body.
Here’s How to Scrape Your Tongue:
- After brushing your teeth first thing in the morning, grab your tongue cleaner. The vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda Tongue Cleaner is traditional sterling silver and designed for ease and efficiency. In a bind, the front of a silver spoon can be used in place of a tongue cleaner. (Why silver? Silver is known for its antibacterial properties.)
- Relax your tongue so that the scraper contacts maximum surface area, and place the scraper as far back on your tongue as comfortable. Gently yet firmly, scrape the entire surface from back to front.
- Rinse the scraper well with hot water after each use.
- Repeat this process 3-5 times, until your tongue looks clean, and pinkish or red in color.
Self oil massage, abhyanga, helps calm the mind and nervous system. Daily abhyanga is especially important for Vata, as it helps alleviate dry skin that is often a result of Vata imbalance. The skin is one of the primary seats of Vata dosha, so massaging your body every morning with warm, Vata-pacifying Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil or our premium Men’s and Women’s Youthful Skin Massage Oils can go a long way toward soothing the entire nervous system and emotions. It's just a matter of taking however many minutes you can spare — from 2 to 20 — to give your skin some love! It's a powerful tool before or after a shower, and has healing qualities: increased circulation, toxin release, and stimulation of nerve endings.
Here’s How to Perform Abhyanga:
- Place a small amount of warm oil in the palm of your hand for each point listed below (using small amounts will help you avoid feeling too oily).
- Start with massaging the face and outer part of the ears.
- Massage both the front and back of the neck and the upper part of the spine.
- Massage the arms, using a back-and-forth motion over the long bones and a circular motion over the joints.
- Use a circular motion to massage over the heart and a clockwise motion over the abdomen.
- Massage the legs, using the same long motion over the leg bones and a circular motion over the joints.
- Last but not least, massage the feet. Use the open part of your hand to massage vigorously back-and-forth over the soles.
- After massaging your whole body, you can use a natural-bristle body brush with a vigorous motion upward toward your heart on the front and back of your feet, legs, arms, back and tummy.
Need further instruction? — Watch the video!
Sesame and coconut oils are regularly used in ayurveda to detoxify or “pull” toxins from the skin that they are applied to — so no surprise here that oil pulling can be done with either of these oils. This simple routine involves swishing (not gargling) one tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 2 to 20 minutes – whatever is comfortable. It's not as bad as it sounds! It feels great, draws out bacteria and has been shown to promote healthy gums and teeth and reduce tartar build-up.
Embrace oil pulling as part of your daily teeth-cleaning routine, and remember these few things:
- Swish the oil gently. If your jaw or mouth starts aching, slow down. Go easy on yourself!
- Avoid swallowing the oil while swishing.
- Once you are done pulling, spit the oil into the trash or outside, not in the sink, because over time the oil may clog pipes.
- After spitting, rinse your mouth with water before consuming any beverages.
Yoga asanas are the preferred ayurvedic way to exercise, because practiced properly they do not put undue strain on any one part of the physiology. Yoga asanas increase blood flow to vital organs, stimulate marma points (points in our bodies where concentrated prana is located) and activate the relaxation response, which is beneficial to the digestive system and all the systems of the body essential for good health.
According to ayurveda, we metabolize not just food, but with all our five senses. During Transcendental Meditation all the senses are engaged and we experience a unique, silent state of awareness that becomes part of who we are. While all parts of the daily routine are important, the Transcendental Meditation program is the most effective way to reduce stress. Just 20 minutes twice a day has the potential to regulate cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase serotonin, which is a sign of relaxation — ultimately reducing stress and feelings of anxiety.
To learn more about Transcendental Meditation visit TM.org.
Regular meals are an essential part of the ayurvedic routine, with three warm, cooked meals a day. It's preferred to eat them at the same time every day, as Vata digestion tends to be irregular. Start the day with a stewed apple with cloves to build an appetite for lunch, stimulate regular bowel movement, increase vitality and alertness, and provide a light but satisfying breakfast.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.