08 Sep Yoga & Ayurveda: Ancient life hacks for modern living
Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga. Ayur means “life” and “veda” means knowledge.
Yoga means union, and is the path of self realization. Union of body, mind and spirit, and union between the finite self and the universal infinite Self. The sciences of yoga and ayurveda work together to create wellness on every level.
It is wonderful to have a daily yoga practice, but also good to know that your daily practice can be optimized by incorporating ayurveda and daily yogic routines, known as “dinacharya”.
The yogis say we are given one hundred years in this body, and it is our choice how we want to take care of what we’ve been given. Consider dinacharya to be “life hacks” to make your health and life the best it can be. Our bodies work on a 24 hour cycle, with each four hours dedicated to a certain function. Dinacharya works with in harmony with our internal body clock to provide steadfast energy throughout the day, and to prevent imbalances.
Yoga can take you out of your comfort zone for great reward, moving you through resistance and stagnation into transformation, balance and expansion. Daily routines are similar, they are not always appealing at first, but can yield wonderful rewards long term. Doing every one of the routines below on a daily basis would be time consuming, but I recommend trying them all on occasion, and committing to your favorites daily. The benefits you’ll receive are worth waking up early for!
DINACHARYA: Yogic & Ayurvedic Daily Routines for purification, energy balance and longevity:
- Wake up before or with the sun, and a few minutes before your alarm (power of intention – it works!). Meditate (even for a few minutes), be mindful of sensations, and soften in them whether they are comfortable or uncomfortable. Connect to your heart and think of one thing you are grateful for.
- Arise and stretch. Empty bladder and bowels. Splash cold water on face 3x. Rinse mouth 3x and use tongue scraper until there is no “ama” (undigested matter/coating) on the tongue.
- Oil pulling: swish unrefined cold pressed oil (I use sesame) around in the mouth for 15 minutes. I do this while I shower. Option: add a few drops of oil of oregano.
- Neti: pour warm salt water through your sinus cavities to clean the sinuses, our pathway to receiving prana (vitality – primarily carried through breath). Do kapalbhati kriya and then oil your nostrils after all water has cleared.
- Dry skin brushing: Removes dead skin cells and optimizes lymph system, increasing immunity.
- Shower each morning to rinse off a night of physical and psychic cleaning (sleep) and to open pores to absorb more prana (vital life force energy) during practice. Avoid long overly hot showers, and end shower with cool or cold water to increase circulation and invigorate your immune system. Even a cool one minute shower is refreshing!
- Do a full body “abhyanga” oil massage. Massage room temperature or warm oil into the skin to prevent dry skin and create a strong physical and energetic container to preserve prana (vitality) and tejas (radiance). Learn about your dosha (ayurvedic constitution) to choose an oil. I use sesame oil. This massage can be done quickly using long stokes to rub the oil in, and circular motions around the joints. Great self care and gentle exercise.
- Do full uddiyana bhanda and nauli kriya (outside in summer or by an open window when weather is cool) to relax the belly, clear stale air from the lungs, oxygentate your system and to stoke digestive fire (agni).
- Drink a warm glass of water, followed by a warm glass of lemon water. Add sea salt to cleanse, remineralize and to raise your blood pressure if its low. Or make a tea with finely grated fresh ginger, lemon and raw honey to optimize digestion and clean the stomach. Honey should be added when tea is cooled a bit.
- Time for pranayama and an invigorating yoga & pranayama practice! The morning is perfect for practicing solar and cleansing postures such as sun salutations, kapalabhati kriya, and ujayii breath synchronized with active flowing sequences. The evening is best for long held and restorative (lunar) postures. This can also vary depending on the time of year and your constitution.
- Eat a light whole foods breakfast followed by a nourishing lunch (eat your largest meal when the sun is at its zenith), and a light dinner.
- Rest in the afternoon for at least ten to fifteen minutes by doing savasana, legs up the wall, anuloma viloma, meditation or yoga nidra. This will pacify your nervous system, refresh your energy and optimize digestion for a beautiful evening!
Details on many of these practices can be learned in Prana’s 200 & 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training programs. www.pranayogastudio.ca
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