Ayurveda was developed more than 5,000 years ago in India, and it is the world’s oldest holistic healing system. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning ayur or “life” and veda or “knowledge.” The fundamental belief of Ayurveda is that the mind, body, and spirit are connected, and the balance of all three promotes optimal health and wellness. Incorporating practices from Ayurveda in your self-care routines is a great way to restore balance and invite healing into your life.
Here is how you can get started.
I was first introduced to Ayurveda through the work of Dr. Deepak Chopra in 2011, when I started studying self-care. Dr. Chopra’s work was eye-opening. Since then, I have studied Ayurveda in-depth, and I incorporate many principles and ritual practices into my routine.
A key component of Ayurveda is having a daily routine, called a Dinacharya. Many elements go into a Dinacharya such as oil pulling, tongue scraping, rose water eye spray, and more. There are more practices you can incorporate into your routine, but these are the ones that I have practiced successfully for many years. I start by brushing my teeth and then I do the following.
Oil pulling involves swishing sesame oil or coconut oil in your mouth in the morning for optimal oral hygiene. I use sesame oil. According to Banyan Botanicals, a leading Ayurveda supply store, the benefits of this practice include “improving oral flora, preventing tooth decay, alleviating bad breath, and strengthening the tissue of teeth and gums.”
Supporting oral hygiene is beneficial to our overall health and wellness. I have been doing this for a long time and my dentist always compliments me when I go to my bi-annual appointments. I think a lot of that has to do with oil pulling because I am by no means a champion toothbrusher and I hardly ever floss. Thirty-eight years old and no cavities either. Most of that is thanks to my mom ensuring that my teeth were always cleaned well as a kid, but my mom has not brushed my teeth in many, many years…so oil pulling is likely helping me out.
You want to swish with about a tablespoon of the oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, so I usually do something else while I am practicing my oil pulling. You will likely need to build yourself up to this time frame, so start with 5 minutes. You will feel the oil change consistency in your mouth. Then you want to spit it out in the trash so you do not cause any drain problems. Do not swallow the oil. Afterward, rinse your mouth out with water.
Along with oil pulling, you want to scrape your tongue. The thought behind this is while you are asleep, your body releases toxins and bacteria through your tongues, which results in a coating that you want to remove right away.
By gently scraping our tongues, we can remove this coating, thus promoting our oral hygiene. A stainless steel tongue scraper is best and be sure to rinse the scraper after each use to keep it clean. I do this following my oil pulling.
Rose Water Eye Rinse
Lastly, I cleanse my eyes by spraying them with Rosewater. Rosewater is a natural remedy for some common eye issues such as eye strain, allergies, dry eye, and more. Before spraying Rosewater in your eyes, you should test it on your skin to ensure you will not have an adverse reaction. It takes some getting used to spraying directly into your eyes, but it feels so refreshing. I top this off by taking Witch Hazel on a cotton ball and wiping my eyes and my face. Witch Hazel is a toner and helps keep my skin young and fresh. Not necessarily an Ayurveda practice, but something I do that helps promote my well-being in conjunction with the other Ayurveda practices.
You can watch my Dincharya process here…
There is one other Ayurvedic practice that I like to do. I do not do this daily, but I try to do this weekly. You can, of course, do this more often than weekly.
In Sanskrit, abhy means “to rub,” and anga means “limbs,” hence, self-massage. Skin is the largest organ in the body and an incredibly important one to keep healthy but often neglected.
Abhyanga can be practiced in a variety of ways. I was taught to use a body brush and perform this practice as part of my shower routine. This can be done outside of the shower before you go in, but I feel that it is messier to do it outside of the shower as the oil/scrub can get everywhere. Exfoliating shower gloves work instead of a brush too if you prefer. I use a lavender-scented body scrub from Trader Joe’s, but you can use any oil or body wash. Please be mindful of the surface of the tub as it can become slippery.
To start, you lovingly massage your entire body from the top to the bottom, front and back with the oil and the brush. When you get to the abdomen, be sure to rub in a clockwise motion as that is the direction of the large intestine and colon. You want to let the oil absorb into your skin, so do not rinse it off right away. Give yourself at least 10-15 minutes to complete this practice.
Abhyanga provides the following benefits:
- Nourished and hydrated skin
- Toned skin tissue
- Restored nervous system
- Detoxified lymphatic system
- Restful sleep
- Decreased aging effects
- Increased circulation
- Internal organ stimulation
- Assists the body in its ability to eliminate waste healthily
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