Are you a “morning person?” Many of us awaken bleary-eyed and then hit the snooze button to catch more Z’s. If the hectic pace of modern living and digital distractions is leaving you feeling depleted each morning, you might benefit from following a daily Ayurvedic routine, or dinacharya.
Nature moves in cycles (day to night, winter through spring), and all the animals and plants follow suit with their own daily and seasonal routines. As humans, living in a fast-paced world, we can grow just a little out of touch with our circadian rhythms. But it’s easy to get back on track. You don’t need to do a complete overhaul of your day; a few gradual changes can go a long way. By following some of these simple morning routine recommendations, you’ll feel more grounded, energetic, and balanced throughout the day. You might even become a morning person!
The Ayurvedic Morning Routine
1. Rise Early
Ayurvedic texts recommend rising early—ideally before 6:00 a.m., when Kapha time starts, and heaviness sets in. Don’t worry if you’re not quite there yet! Just gradually make an effort to wake up a bit earlier (which, in turn, will help you fall asleep earlier).
2. Wipe the Slate Clean
Next up: clear your elimination channels. During the night, your body has been busy “cleaning house” and sweeping toxins into evacuation channels. So, it’s important to:
A) Urinate. This one comes about fairly automatically for most of us.
B) Evacuate your bowels. Ayurveda recommends having one bowel movement each morning. At night, lunar energy is prominent, and your body focuses on calming and cooling; in the morning, the sun rises, and your body moves into an absorption cycle. If you’re carrying around the previous day’s waste, toxins can leach back into your system and hamper immunity, leaving you fatigued, drowsy, and irritable. You’ll feel a lot more relaxed, energetic, and healthy if you’ve had a proper BM (so don’t ignore urges and wait!).
If you need a little herbal assistance in this department, certain Ayurvedic herbs use nature’s intelligence to promote regularity. Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) is a traditional herbal formula that gently purifies and, when used over a long period of time, allows the deepest tissues of the body to release toxins. Organic Digest Tone contains amla, chebulic myrobalan, and belleric myrobalan—three remarkable fruits that possess rejuvenating, health-promoting qualities. Cabbage rose is added for a cooling effect and to support the synergy of the other ingredients.
C) Oil pulling. Swish 1 tablespoon of sesame, coconut, or olive oil around in your mouth for 60 seconds, and “pull” bacteria from your mouth and gums. It might sound strange, but it feels wonderful and can help reduce tartar buildup, leaving you with healthier gums. A few pointers: 1) swish the oil gently, 2) avoid swallowing, 3) after you’re done, spit the oil into paper towels and place in the trash, rather than down the drain (oil can clog pipes), 4) rinse your mouth before consuming any beverages.
D) Tongue scraping. Have you ever noticed a film or coating on your tongue in the morning? This is ama (digestive impurities) that has been deposited overnight by your digestive system ridding your body of toxins. Jihwa prakshalana, or tongue scraping, helps clean the tongue of ama—which can compromise your digestion and immune system—before it can be reabsorbed. Here’s how to do it:
- After brushing your teeth, take your copper tongue scraper (or the front of a silver spoon) and place it as far back on your tongue as comfortable. Firmly but gently, scrape the surface of your tongue from back to front.
- Rinse your tongue scraper with hot water after use.
- Repeat 5-7 times, until your tongue looks and feels clean.
Now you’re ready to start fresh.
3. Give Yourself an Abhyanga
Abhyanga, self-massage with warm oil, tones your skin and muscles while calming your mind and nervous system. Massaging your body daily with warm, Vata-pacifying, Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil and Men’s and Women’s Youthful Skin Massage Oils helps soothe the entire nervous system. Whether you can spare two or 20 minutes, self-massage is a great form of self-care! Moreover, it results in increased circulation, detoxification, and stimulation of nerve endings.
Here’s how to do it. Place a small amount of oil in each palm and:
- Massage the face and outer ears.
- Massage the front and back of the neck, followed by the upper spine.
- Massage the arms, using a back-and-forth motion over the long bones and a circular motion over the joints.
- Use a circular motion to massage over the heart and a clockwise motion over the abdomen.
- Massage the legs, using the same long motion over the leg bones and a circular motion over the joints.
- Last but not least, massage the feet. Use the open part of your hand to massage vigorously back and forth over the soles.
- Wait 5-20 minutes between your massage and bath or shower for the oil to soak in. Use warm, rather than hot, water.
Need further instruction? — Watch this video.
4. Do Yoga Asanas and Pranayama
Start your day relaxed and limber! Gentle Yoga Asanas help increase blood flow to your vital organs and activate your body’s relaxation response. Both of these things are beneficial for your digestion, nervous system, and overall well-being (read more about the Ayurveda Yoga Connection). Pranayama, or deep breathing, is an alternate-nostril breathing technique that helps coordinate the left and right hemispheres of your brain.
5. Meditate and Ready Your Mind for the Day
Morning meditation is an excellent practice that prepares your mind and nervous system for the stressors of the day. Studies show that the Transcendental Meditation® program is an effective meditation technique when it comes to managing stress. Just 20 minutes twice daily has the potential to regulate cortisol—the stress hormone—and increase serotonin, reducing stress and feelings of anxiety.
To learn more about Transcendental Meditation visit TM.org.
6. Feed Your Body
Eating warm, cooked food at regular mealtimes is a key part of the Ayurvedic regimen. Breakfast is especially important. Start the day with a stewed apple to build an appetite for lunch, stimulate regular bowel movements, increase vitality and alertness, and provide a light but satisfying breakfast. Follow it up with some warm cereal to keep you nourished and fueled.
Recipe: Stewed Apples (Cooked Apples with Cloves)
1 whole fresh, sweet apple, cored and peeled
5 whole cloves
¼ cup of purified water
Dice apple into small pieces. Add cloves, apple, and water in a covered pot.
Cook apple in ¼ cup of water until it is soft.
Discard the cloves, cool slightly, and enjoy.
Plan Ahead for Success
This morning routine might sound like a lot all at once, but remember that you can ease into your daily routine gradually. Be easy on yourself, and do what you can. Map out the morning according to your own personal schedule. For example, if you have to be at work at 8:30 a.m., you’ll want to wake up around 6:00 a.m. to fit in your full routine. To ensure you feel rested, try to get to bed by 10:00 p.m. during drowsy, Kapha time (6:00 - 10:00 p.m.).
And with that, enjoy your day!
© 1999, 2021 Maharishi AyurVeda Products International, Inc. (MAPI). All Rights Reserved. MAPI does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. See additional information.