Several of my clients are feeling guilt around “falling off the wagon” during the holidays, dropping their meditation and exercise routines, and not making the best eating choices.
There’s no need to feel guilty about the choices you’ve made. You did the best you could. Remember that your best depends on how much sleep you’ve had, whether you’re sick, when you last ate, what you ate, the state of your emotional health, and the state of your mental health. Your best also changes from moment to moment.
Many of my clients ask me about my own personal practices and I always share dinacharya with them.
The Daily Routine
In Ayurveda, a consistent daily routine is crucial to living a healthy life. It sets the tone for your entire day and brings a sense of calm and well-being. It gives the body, mind, and spirit the chance to ground, align, and cleanse.
Do you know how many people wake up? They jolt awake to an alarm, flip on bright lights, reach for their electronic devices, then dive directly into their day’s activities and responsibilities. They check email and texts, and scan social feeds and news headlines to see what they might have missed while they slept. Before even getting out of bed, they’ve activated their fight-flight-freeze system.
Dinacharya practices are best done first thing in the morning, before checking your phone or email. Avoid all interaction with electronic devices, any complex interactions with other people, and other sensory stressors until your morning routine is complete.
- Wake up to a pleasant, non-jarring sound, ideally from something that is not your phone.
- Wake up at the same time to get your body and mind set in a rhythm to gracefully begin your daily activities.
- Use a tongue cleaner to remove the bacteria-filled coating on the tongue and to stimulate the digestive system.
- Brush your teeth.
- Drink a tall glass of warm water to hydrate the body and encourage a bowel movement.
- Practice oil pulling to strengthen the teeth, gums, jaw, and voice, while improving the sense of taste. Swish it in your mouth for anywhere from 5–20 minutes.
- Splash cool water on your face, mouth, and eyes to bring a sense of freshness and alertness to the body and mind.
- Empty your bowels. A bowel movement each morning is a sign of a healthy digestive system. If you are not eliminating daily, be sure your diet includes of plenty of fluids and fiber.
- Perform abhyanga (self-massage) with warm oil to calm the nervous system, lubricate and rejuvenate the body, and promote healthy circulation.
- Do nasal irrigation to keep your nasal passageways clear of any bacteria and viruses and calms your mind.
- Engage in a spiritual practice. Keep the lights low. This can be meditation, pranayama (breath exercises), yoga, journaling, prayer, or other activities that bring well-being to your mind and spirit such as reading poetry or wisdom literature, stepping outside to see the sunrise, listening to birds or to the sound of the wind through an open window, or playing a musical instrument.
- Set your intention. For example, “Today, I will be patient with myself. I will give generously to others. I will stay grounded and calm internally no matter happens externally.” Visualize how you want your day to go and reflect on the things you are most grateful for.
- Eat your largest meal from 10am-2pm. This is when your digestive fire is at its strongest, and you will be able to derive the most nutrition from your meal.
- Favor foods in accordance with the doshas you want to balance and the season.
- Focus on eating without any distractions.
- Stop eating 3 hours before bedtime. Having a scheduled bedtime trains the body to know that it is time to wind-down and recuperate.
- If you want to support healthy deep sleep, consider a warm bath, a warm glass of milk with nutmeg and cardamom, or herbal support best for your dosha.
- Do yoga, stretch, or use a foam-roller.
If you find this list overwhelming, then pick the lowest hanging fruit and start with that. What one item, that if you chose to implement it into your lifestyle, would bring you the greatest benefit?
Take the first few minutes of the day for your precious self.
The path to healing starts right here with these small, seemingly innocuous yet revolutionary acts. This is your moment. Embrace it.
Please reach out to me if you are in need of support. You are not alone.