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3 Ayurvedic practices I am making a habit of

Dinacharya – “Dina” meaning day and “Charya” meaning activity – refers to the Ayurvedic daily routine that is encouraged to reduce stress, improve digestion and prevent chronic disease. Many of the practices are applicable to the morning time to set up the day with balance, cleanliness of mind and body and ease.

There are some elements that I, and perhaps you, might already be performing… Early rising, engaging in exercise and/or meditation, brushing teeth, showering, warm lemon water, eating a healthy breakfast… So without necessarily being aware of it, you might already be partaking in Dinacharya! However strictly and traditionally, it is quite a process! Whilst I respect it, I definitely don’t stick to the letter of it.

After some recent reading, I have decided to make more of an effort to incorporate three aspects of Dinacharya into my already established routine. I feel these are easy to implement and believe they will boost my day and improve overall wellbeing. Join me!

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Tongue Scraping

This simple practice removes bacteria and toxins accumulated overnight, whilst also stimulating and cleansing the digestive tract and vital organs (different points of the tongue are said to relate to specific organs). From my research, this should be the first step in your oral hygiene routine. So whether you brush, gargle or floss, scrape your tongue first – 7-10 brisk strokes should do the trick, and wash off excess where necessary between scrapes. Don’t be too vigorous, it should not hurt. Once done, brush your teeth and then enjoy your warm lemon water.

Oil Swishing

This practice is believed to strengthen the teeth, gums and jaw. It also shows some promise in gingivitis and plaque build-up prevention and overall oral health. You may have heard of oil pulling. I originally shied away from this practice, placing it in the “too hard” basket…. The idea of swishing oil in my mouth for upward of 15 minutes seemed ludicrous to me! Who has that time? However, my reading has revealed that traditionally, this practice need not be so indulgent, 1-3 minutes will do the trick. Yay! Once you have had your warm lemon, place about 1 tbsp of oil (preferably warmed, unrefined, organic and cold-pressed sesame or coconut oil) into your mouth, swish for a minute or two, spit out (do not swallow!), and before rinsing use your finger to massage your gums softly to increase circulation. Tip: to warm the oil I recommend using a small container filled with 1 tbsp of the oil, secured tightly and placed in warm water for a minute, perhaps whilst you drink your lemon water. Confession: I only do this 3-5 times a week, do it when you remember/have time, I think this is good enough!

Abhyanga

This is an ancient practice of oily self-massage, said to nourish the skin, promote good circulation, lubricate tissues, optimise detoxification and soothe the nervous system. Before you shower, perhaps after exercise, warm about 1/4 cup unrefined organic sesame, almond or coconut oil, by placing it in a hot bowl (you can add essential oils to the base oil as well). Then, massage your entire body, starting from the head. Pay particular attention to the soles of your feet, your ears, nail beds and the scalp. If you don’t want to wash your hair, choose to forgo the oil here and use dry hands to give yourself a scalp massage (great for stimulating the hair follicles and promoting growth!). See a good tutorial here. If you don’t have time for the full body massage, at least massage your hands, feet, and neck, as these are said to be major stress points and benefit most from stimulation. Wait at least 10 minutes before washing off oil. You could oil swish whilst you wait, tidy up or prepare breakfast or dinner (being careful with your oily feet!), meditate… Then, enjoy a warm shower, the heat of which will allow the oil to penetrate the skin, nourishing and strengthening the connective tissue. Bonus points to turn the tap to cold for 10 seconds at the end of your shower, then hot, then cold! Always finish on cold. This is great for circulation. Morning is believed to be ideal for Abhyanga, but it can also be done in the evening, choose when suits you best. Tip: try using a dry brush on your body before Abhyanga!

Yoga for Mental Clarity & Focus

Yoga is not simply a workout. It can (and should) be used for a variety of therapeutic benefits, physical and emotional. What’s more, you don’t necessarily need one hour, a yoga studio or a teacher to reap the benefits of yoga. Try these four poses to clear your mind, enhance focus and foster new energy and ideas. In each of these poses, remember that connecting to the breath is key. Hold each posture for 6 or more deep breaths, and feel your energy shift.

Childs pose with a “twist”

Everyone love’s childs pose, but instead of simply resting on your forehead, try to roll side-to-side across the brow, or the third eye. This gives your face a little massage, relieving tension, and stimulating blood flow to this area. The third eye-centre is the space associated with your intuition, an important part of the body to tap into when making decisions! Forward bending is also known to relieve stress and stop that endless flow of thoughts. Sink into the posture, rock back and forth, surrender to your thoughts and enjoy.

Warrior II

A strong pose, often overlooked, Warrior II opens the chest, lungs, shoulders and hips. Taking this pose, you must open up your arms, bend into your front leg and remain tall. Symbolically, this could mean opening up your heart and/or mind to possibilities, opportunities or ideas. Your eyes pierce out in front of you over the fingertips, as you keep a soft but steady gaze. Gaze with purpose, open the body with conviction. This is a stamina building posture that will bring confidence to your decisions.

Tree Pose

Keeping your feet firmly rooted into the ground beneath you, taking tree pose is not only a balancing asana but also a strengthening one. You use the muscles in your feet, ankles and core and a focused gaze to stabilise yourself.  It is both invigorating for the body and tranquil for the mind. Find self-esteem, focus and strength in tree pose, and take these qualities into your day.

 

Crow Pose

Crow pose is usually the first arm balance we learn in yoga. Arm balances are a fantastic way to cultivate inner focus and concentration. Shifting your weight forward, use the strength of your wrists, arms and core to lift rather than fall. Focus is very important here, and you will find that it comes quite naturally as you try to remain in flight. What’s more, the inversion increases blood flow to your face, encouraging fresh energy and invigorating the mind. Overcome fear as you take your feet off the ground one-by-one, and trust your body and the present moment as you fly in crow!

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