Mornings aren’t for everyone, and for some, getting out of bed requires immediate caffeine consumption! However, how you begin the day plays a very important role in how you feel and how you tackle the rest of the day, so hold off on that first cup until you’ve warmed up the body! Ayurvedic philosophy emphasizes the importance of morning rituals in your overall health and wellbeing, and sticking to a few of these rituals can align and cleanse your body, helping you gain energy and release toxins, balance your doshas and commit to a practice that can have a huge impact on your life.
Get ready to throw open your shades, welcome the sunshine and greet the day with enthusiasm as you embark on one, or all, of these morning rituals:
1. Rise and shine: Ancient Ayurvedic theory stresses the importance of waking with the sun and getting out of bed by 6am. Waking up early allows the Vata energy to enter our bodies and gets us moving before the Kapha energy takes its place and causes sluggishness, making it even harder to get out of bed. Ayurvedic experts believe that when you rise with the sun you’re immediately infused with energy, and stepping outside provides an added bonus of fresh air straight to the lungs. Rising this early also gives you time to move your body in a gentle way with sun salutations followed by a brief meditation practice.
2. Splash the chakras: Sleeping takes a toll on the skin and face, so waking up and splashing the face is a great way to start the day. Use cool water and splash gently on to the face and neck seven times, paying particular attention to the eyes, which are Pitta in nature and tend to overheat. This rinsing method will prep the skin for the day while also re-hydrating the sensitive skin. Seven is a sacred number as it matches the number of chakras or energy systems in the body and helps to awaken each for optimal vitality.
3. Scrape away toxins: Our bodies eliminate toxins and detox over night so you may notice that you wake up with a white film on the tongue. In Ayurveda, this white film is referred to as ama, or toxins, lurking in the digestive tract. After using the bathroom and splashing your face, it’s time to get out the metal tongue scraper. Scrape from the back of the mouth to the front for at least seven scrapes and rinse thoroughly between each. Scraping the tongue not only eliminates stuck toxins but also clears the taste buds to get them ready to stoke the digestive fires.
4. Get the digestive system moving: Now that your digestive system is ready to go post tongue scraper, the next step is re-hydrating after a night of sleep. In Ayurveda, the belief is that the first thing to enter the body sets the tone for the rest of the day. With that in mind, the best way to jump start the digestive system is with filtered hot water, lemon juice and ginger, adding a spoonful of raw honey if you like. The warm water will stimulate the digestive tract while citrus fruits are great for detoxification and add important minerals to the body.
5. Dry brush: Dry brushing the skin is a self-massage technique that refreshes and stimulates the skin and lymphatic system, enhances blood circulation and releases accumulated toxins to improve all of the systems of the body. Using a long-handled, non-synthetic brush, start at the feet and move towards the heart with light quick strokes, as the lymph is near the surface of the skin. This step is intended to take place right before you shower to get the toxins moving and ready to rinse away.
6. Lubricate and Bathe: After dry skin brushing, it’s time to rinse toxins from the skin. Oiling the skin before rinsing is a great way to lock-in moisture and lock-out impurities in the water. Ayurveda suggests sesame oil for Vata dosha (warming) or coconut for Pitta (cooling). After brushing the skin, rub oil all over the body, paying particular attention to the joints, and massaging oil into skin to help eliminate buildup in muscle tissue while also loosening up the body for the day. End the shower with cool water to allow the skin to settle and increase circulation and continue to eliminate toxins.
7. Eat for Energy: While Ayurvedic theory does emphasize the importance of breakfast, it should not be the largest meal of the day. Sunrise until 10am is a time for movement and that can be slowed down by over-eating in the morning (which overloads the digestive tract and may cause sluggishness). Start with a light breakfast of fruit, green juice or granola to keep you light on your feet!
What is your favorite Ayurvedic way to start the day? Do you notice a difference in your energy and mood throughout the day when you practice these rituals? Please share in the comments!
Aside from these Ayurvedic techniques, you can engage in practices specific to your dosha. Do you know your dosha? Click here to take our quiz.