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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!

The Proposal / Blue Mountains Action-Packed Itinerary

Two weekends ago, I got engaged! To say I was caught off guard is an understatement- my boyfriend (now fiancé!!!) completely threw me off track!! You see, I have been known to ruin surprises, so he covered all his bases to ensure that I couldn’t this time! Firstly, some back story… Mike and I met in Costa Rica. He was there for the waves, I was there for the yoga. I walked into the afternoon yoga class in a bit of a mood, and there he was! We just hung out for the week, having breakfasts and laying on the beach. The following week, I was visiting him in Laguna Beach, California. Before I knew it, I was extending my trip to stay with him a couple of weeks! Soon after I returned home to Sydney, he had booked to stay with me for a full month 🙂 Next, I spent Christmas with his family in the USA, and decided to live with him for a few months in California. After 3 months, I came home, and 6 weeks later, Mike was moving in with me here, in Sydney, Australia!!

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So! This past weekend was our three year anniversary. Months ago Mike told me not to plan anything, that he had it under control. This totally surprised me, I am definitely the planner in the relationship! But graciously, I anticipated what he had up his sleeve. To be honest, I had been so flat out with work and uni that I just didn’t have time to investigate what he was up to!

The day came and he told me to pack light, warm, yoga/hiking clothes and one nice outfit for the day. He came home from work on Friday and I was all ready to go in my jeans when he told me change of plans, he is wearing a suit and so I better put on a dressier outfit!

We turned up to Lilianfels, a gorgeous, luxury hotel in the Blue Mountains. He had booked us dinner at Darley’s, and had organised it to be entirely vegan. It was divine! Innovative, fine-dining, renowned for its fresh local produce. The vibe is warm, friendly and a little bit old-world… I felt like I was in a scene of Cluedo!

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Next, we were driving through the pitch black night to an unknown destination. He pulled up outside a cabin. He told me it was called the Dream Cabin, and in the morning I would find out why. We woke to the birds chirping, the cabin filled with sunlight, nothing but green tall trees all around us. Looking up to the ceiling, it was as though the entire cabin was a permanent Wooden Teepee! It had a steep secret passageway to an upstairs sitting room, a big fireplace, a gorgeous separate bathroom outside with a spa overlooking the valley, and was just beautifully and artistically decorated. The best way I can describe it is part boho, part country, part other-worldly.

The sweetest of sleeps & the freshest of mornings in our Dream Cabin Except the night we got engaged, I kept wanting to wake Mike up so we could chat haha! Ahh what a week! Happy Saturday to youuu I've been trying to do my own research but would love if I had your help- any fav #weddinginspo accounts? And any tips for a #destinationwedding?

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Mike had a full day of activities planned for each day. Day 1, vegan cafe: Secret Creek. It is located within an animal sanctuary, so is surrounded by kangaroos and emus! We ordered a huge vegan brekky, and found the most delicious vegan scones EVER.

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Next, we went on a fun hike for about 1.5 hours to a creek down the mountain from our cabin.

IMG_0006On the way back to the cabin we found a stall on the side of the road selling locally grown produce and stocked up on the best Bilpin apples and bush honey to take home. Later, we enjoyed the cabin, and ran a long bath in the outside bathroom. We bought bubbles, candles, tea and a body scrub and had an indulgent, relaxing afternoon.

At 7pm, there was knock on our door, and a lovely lady called Caroline walked in. Mike explained she was going to be cooking for us all weekend, and had pre-organised the menus to ensure they were all vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free! First night, we had a Lentil Dahl with green beans and spinach, followed by raw Strawberry Cheesecake tarts. We ate everything by the fire and just spent the night chatting and laughing.

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We were up early the next morning… I was so excited to give Mike my anniversary pressies. I had made a riddle card for him all about our time together, and left spaces blank for him to guess/fill in, which corresponded with a bunch of different presents 🙂 He loved it! Afterward, back to Secret Creek! Insane fluffy vegan pancakes, I will forever dream of them!

Pancake Sunday in the Blue Mountains.... Believe me when I say- the BEST pancakes we have ever had- and Mike used to live in America! And they're vegan So fluffy, with crispy edges Plus a pot of chai & loads of sunshine ☀️ #bestweekendever @secretcreekcafe

After a quick hello to the animals, we proceeded to Blackheath farmers markets, which we were lucky were on, as they are only on monthly. Low and behold, there was a vegan bakery stall at these markets! So we stocked up on yummy food for a picnic in the Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens later. On the way, we went to a few lookouts to see the spectacular view all around us. They were absolutely breathtaking, and I am so glad we took the time to take them all in.

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Finally, at the Botanical Gardens, we walked through the forest area (getting a little lost!) and found a picnic spot. We set up a towel, with all of our market goodies, and just enjoyed eachothers company, good food, and the lizards that kept popping out to say hello 🙂

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As I was finally getting to dessert (a juicy passionfruit), Mike starts talking about how much he loves me. I noticed he put something behind his legs, as he got on his knees, siting upright beside me. I’m looking up at him thinking “yeh, I know all this! I know we love each other!” He tells me to put the passionfruit down. I think, oh, maybe he got me an anniversary pressie? Never did I ever imagine what would happen next… He starts talking about our future and what it holds and then brings out a small box. It’s only until he said, “Sami, I’m doing this!!” that I realised what was happening! He opened the box and I see the most incredible, glistening diamond ring. I was stunned. I screamed “yes!” and bowled him over to shower him with tears and kisses.

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To be honest, the details are such a blur! I had so much adrenaline rushing through me, I just remember the pure joy and emotion that I felt in that moment. I couldn’t have dreamed up a more magical weekend. And this just made it ridiculous! I was so happy, so overjoyed. We called family and friends, took endless photos, and then just enjoyed eachother’s company as we walked through the gardens.

Later, Mike had planned a glow-worm tour which unfortunately got cancelled. But to be honest, I was in such a love bubble, I didn’t mind at all.

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We ran another beautiful spa bath, and were treated to Caroline’s vegan cooking once again for a celebratory dinner in our cabin. This time Ratatouillie with polenta and pumpkin, and a lemon pistachio cake with cashew cream to finish. To be honest, that first sleep was pretty restless… I just wanted it to be morning so we could chat again!! I kept touching my ring, and waking myself up with my smile. I was so, so happy.

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The next day was Monday, and Mike had Caroline come early for a beautiful outdoor breakfast on our balcony. This next part is probably one of my favourite surprises… he had arranged for her to make my green smoothie recipe that I make every single morning!! I just couldn’t believe the thought he put in to each and every detail. I squealed with delight (actually!) and drank it all up.

This long weekend has just been surprise after surprise I've tried to capture it all on snap chat & my Insta story On our first morning as an engaged couple Mike had a vegan brekky delivered to our door... He had pre-given the chef the recipe to my green smoothie I make every single day!! The thoughtfulness that has gone into his plans has blown me away! I love this cabin (appropriately called Dream Cabin), I love my ring (from @midasjewellersbondijunction, check out their page for an epic video/closeup ) and I love my man Thank you all for the warm, heart-felt messages. It has made it that much more special. I love you too!!!! Bursting with love ✨✨

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We did a little yoga outside, and then made our way to a hike Mike had been recommended. We went offtrack and found a beautiful waterfall and natural pool, with crystal clear water. We threw off our clothes and went skinny dipping! It was absolutely freezing! But we didn’t care. We were on such a high.

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After our hike, we had to pack up and leave the Dream Cabin 🙁 I was sad the weekend was coming to a close, but Mike assured me he had a few more surprises to come! He took me to Leura, where he had found ANOTHER incredible vegan cafe, Rubyfruit (seriously, the vegan scene in these areas blew me away!). We ordered the most delicious feast – vegan burrito and beetroot bean burger, coconut cream cake and a banana chocolate brownie! At this point we were receiving all of our congratulatory messages, as we had been out of reception for most of the weekend. The disconnection was definitely nice, and allowed us to be extremely in the moment.

We then drove back to Lilianfels, where I found out he had organised a decadent spa package for us both in the couples room – scrubs, massage, facial, spa, sauna, steam… it was so luxurious and I felt incredibly spoiled. We spent the afternoon walking around the property looking at the beautiful views and grounds, before making the drive back to Sydney.

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When we got to Sydney, he told me we had reservations at 8pm at Otto, who now offer a vegan menu! We had another yummy vegan meal, shared a thousand more laughs, talked about the past, that weekend, and our exciting future together.

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It was by far, the best time of our lives. I don’t know if anything will ever top it! Mike has completely filled my life with so much love and passion since the moment I met him. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky. Happiness doesn’t cut it, I am overjoyed, over the moon, BURSTING with love and excitement for my life as his partner, forever and ever!

Thank you all for being so excited for me. I know so many of you watched my SnapChat and Insta-story and so I really felt like you were there in spirit, and wanted to share our action-packed itinerary with you. I hope you guys get to visit some these places! I had the time of my life, but I know with Mike, it only gets better.

Looking forward to sharing wedding planning details and my health preparation leading up to it. Hint: it will be a destination wedding 😉

Sending you lots of love and good health, always…

Sami

xoxo

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