We are the sum of our our habits. The way we start our day sets the stage for that day. It creates the momentum for the day and the sum of each day's habits creates our life. Ayurveda calls our daily routine our dinacharya, which translates into "day behaviour."
The traditional Ayurvedic morning dinacharya is very extensive. I have been working on implementing it into my life for a couple of years. I started with drinking warm water upon waking until it became second nature. Then I started adding more things as I felt ready to add them.
The reason the morning dinacharya is so extensive, is because we accumulate a lot of toxins when we sleep at night. The practices are designed to clear the channels in the body and the mind, which are necessary for a healthy mind, body and spirit. These are incredibly simple longevity practices that become more potent the longer we practice them.
I am sharing my morning routine here. I hope that it inspires you to start bringing these practices into your life.
The first thing I do upon waking is to scrape my tongue. The tongue is the uppermost part of the digestive system. The surface of the tongue is actually a map of the entire body and observing the tongue in the morning is a great way to see what is happening inside the body. The tongue should be pink and smooth with a slight coating. If there is heavy coating, it indicates that there is a lot of ama (toxins) and by looking at where the coating is on the tongue, we can tell which part of the body is affected. Scraping the tongue removes the accumulated toxins and stimulates the digestive system. I like to use a copper tongue scraper due to its medicinal properties. Using a toothbrush only moves the toxins around the tongue.
To balance pitta, a lovely practice is to splash the open eyes with cool water. One of the homes of pitta is in the eyes and our eyes can easily become overworked, especially because of the amount of time we spend looking at screens.
As I head to the kitchen to turn the kettle on, I pop a tablespoon of cold pressed black sesame oil into my mouth. I keep a dropper bottle in my bathroom for quick and easy use. I swish this around my mouth while I boil the kettle. Black sesame oil is antiseptic and absorbs bacteria in the mouth. I have noticed that my teeth have become whiter since I have started using it. It strengthens the teeth and helps to stop bleeding gums. It is excellent to balance vata, so I highly recommend this practice if you have insomnia or anxiety.
I spit this oil in the bin once I am done. Do not swallow, remember that it is full of the toxins you have been pulling out.
Salt water gargle
I gargle with slightly warm, salt water to remove any residue of the oil from my mouth. Salt water is antibacterial, so this is also a great practice to remove toxins and clear the channels in the body.
Warm water with lime juice and honey
I drink a big glass of warm water with lime juice and raw honey. In the winter time, I drink lemon juice instead of lime, but lime juice is better in the warmer months. Lemon juice can aggravate pitta. Drinking this water helps to activate the digestive system and helps to get the bowels moving. Lemon or lime juice helps to detoxify the liver and raw honey is very medicinal and helpful in balancing blood sugar.
It is a good idea to empty the bowels upon waking. The end of the process of digestion is actually elimination. So, eating before we have eliminated puts unnecessary strain on the digestive system and contributes to the accumulation of ama in the body. We can train the body to eliminate in the morning by sitting on the toilet at the same time each day. Eating stewed apples or roasted beetroot for dinner are two delicious ways of encouraging the digestive system to move.
Brushing our teeth twice day is extremely important. This is a habit that we all learned since childhood and most people would not dream of skipping brushing their teeth in the morning. There is no drama around brushing the teeth, it is just part of our day. I would like to encourage you to think of this as you add new habits to your morning routine - one day they will be just like brushing your teeth, something that you do every day and don't need to think about.
Another way of clearing the channels is through meditation. Our mind accumulates ama throughout the day, just like the body does. Sitting quietly, watching the breath, first thing in the morning is a simple and profound practice that will change your life, I promise ;).
Getting clear on what you want to achieve and where you are in your life is the key to creating an intentional life. I spend 10 minutes with my tarot cards and journal and reflect on how I am feeling and where I would like to place my attention going forward. Being intentional with your day makes you a very powerful human being.
A traditional dinacharya is based on yoga, but any exercise that you love and need for your body is perfect. It is important to move the lymphatic system, as it only circulates when we move our bodies. The lymphatic system is the first dhatu in the body. Dhatus are the seven types of tissues in Ayurveda.
Each dhatu has to be healthy, as the byproduct of its formation is what feeds the next layer. If our first layer of tissues is not healthy, this impacts all the tissues in the body, all the way to the reproductive system, which is the final dhatu in the body.
Taking care of the lymphatic system is foundational to the creation of healthy tissues throughout the body.
It took me a while to fit this one into my routine, but I am so glad that I have finally found a way that works for me. I do this before I brush my teeth and eliminate and it is working very well for me. I have a dropper bottle of prepared body oil that I put into a cup of boiling water. This warms up the oil nicely, as it is way more beneficial to perform an oil massage with warm oil.
On days that I am washing my hair, I start with oiling my head. This is excellent for healthy hair as the oil strengthens the hair follicles, so that the hair does not fall out. I then move down my body, focusing on my ears, belly, hands and feet. I use long and deep strokes on my arms and legs, circular strokes around my joints and move in a clockwise direction on my belly.
I let the oil sink into my body as I perform my other bathroom activities. I then climb into the shower and let the warm water drive the oil deeper into my body. I don't use soap to wash the oil off and I only use soap under my arms and between my legs.
We have microbes on our skin that serve as a natural antibacterial layer and protect us. Using excess soap destroys these good bugs and using oil on the body helps to colonise these good microbes and protect us further.
Some benefits of massaging the body are anti-aging, pacifying all the doshas and especially vata, relieving dryness, improving circulation, nourishing all seven dhatus (tissues), flushing toxins from the body, strengthening skin and muscle tone, reducing stress, improving sleep and the immune system, relieving aches and pains and increasing energy levels.
It is a wonderful practice that is really worth incorporating into your routine.
Adorning the body with scents and clothes worthy of a queen
Taking the time to dress in a beautiful way is a profound act of self love. Dressing to impress myself has raised my vibration over the years and has allowed me to get to know myself in new ways. The way we dress sends a message to us and the world about what we stand for and who we are. After all those ayurvedic practices, it is only right to anoint your body with scents and clothes that validate you and the queen that you are.
A traditional ayurvedic breakfast is warm, light and easy to digest. Traditional foods are stewed apples or porridge. In the warmer months, I like to have a smoothie, or fresh fruit. The key here is to keep it light and easy to digest.
I would love to know what your morning routine is like and how it impacts your day.