By Caitlin Rose
200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor
A morning ritual? Who has time for that? Life doesn't always present us the space that we would like to cultivate a morning ritual or routine, but instead of writing it off- try adding just one or two rituals per month to start. Read through this list of Ayurvedic Morning rituals and pick two that you can start tomorrow. Then next month, pick two more.
Morning rituals set the stage for the day to come. Cleansing the mind and body so that it can take on the day with a lighter heart and less toxic build up. An Ayurvedic morning ritual is the first step in holistic care. Giving yourself just one hour at the start of everyday can help to reduce stress, ward off illness and cultivate the inherent health and happiness with. Give it a try!
Wake up before 6am.
In the early morning, before the sun has risen, Sattva Guna is most prevalent. The ideal time to wake is 1/2hr -1hr before the sun rises. Sattvic energy is the energy that we want to cultivate more of and this is the most opportune time to incorporate meditation. If we sleep past 6am we will be awakened during the Kapha time of day when the energies of Earth and Water are more present, this will result in a feeling of heaviness, lethargy and low energy throughout our day.
Of course, we have to be logical in regards to getting enough sleep. If you are not able to go to bed before eleven, it is not logical for you to wake before 6am. Use your best judgment, prioritize getting enough sleep to waking up early, or try to go to bed by 10pm if possible. Ayurveda recommends a bedtime of 10pm, during the Kapha time of the evening when it is easier to fall asleep.
Brush your teeth & scrape your tongue.
Cleaning the mouth first thing in the morning is best to help remove the accumulated toxins and bacteria that accumulated while you were sleeping. It is best to do this prior to consuming and liquids or food for your day, as they will act as carriers for the bacteria back into your body.
Scrapping your tongue is one of the most simple ways you can help prevent toxins in your body. Scrapping the tongue helps to remove accumulated ama (white residue on top of the tongue) as well as helps to prevent bad breath. This should be done every time after brushing teeth.
It is recommended that one uses a tongue scrapper that is made of gold, silver or copper.
Clean your face & rinse your eyes.
Rinsing your face with warm water will not only feel great, but also wash away any accumulated dirt or excess oil from your skin from a nights rest. It will stimulate circulation, prevent breakouts and help discolorations of the skin to fade.
During this time allow your eyes to cleanse as well, simply blink your eyes gently to allow some of the water to rinse your eyes. This will help to wash away any impurities from the night, improve your vision and prevent excess heat and redness in the eyes.
Drink a glass of water.
Drinking 8-16 oz of room temperature to warm water is ideal on an empty stomach. During the spring it is ideal to add 1-3 tbs of lemon juice to the water to help stimulate the Agni (digestive fire) as well as remove, or scrape, any accumulated ama (toxins) from the intestinal tract.
If you commonly suffer from spring time allergies, add a 1/2 tbs of honey to your class of warm water during your morning routine. Honey also helps to scrape ama (toxins) from inside the body, according to Ayurveda.
Pranayama & Meditation.
Taking just 5-10 minutes in the morning to become present, to quiet the mind before it takes on the day can alter the path of your day completely. Take time to connect to your breath; simple deep inhales and exhales, will help you to connect to the parasympathetic state of relaxation. Connecting to this place in the morning instills its accessibility into your mind for the rest of your day.
If you are new to meditation, try taking this time to go through a list of what you are grateful for. Who knows, maybe that list a gratitude will one day turn into gratitude for stillness and silence and then stillness and silence themselves.
To balance the heaviness of kapha and encourage elimination of toxins through our skin, we have to work up a little sweat. This is the perfect time of year to run an extra mile, enjoy a sweaty yoga session, lift heavier weights, or take a lovely hot bath with a little essential oil. Some good essential oils for reducing excess Kapha dosha include: juniper, ginger, eucalyptus, clove and saffron Physical workouts coupled with steam saunas and hot baths help to flush out the stored toxins of winter.
Bathing (Optional Abhyanga/ Dry Scrub, Dry Brushing or Oil Pulling).
Depending on how much time you have in the morning, adding an additional therapy offers an opportunity to personalize your morning routine to how you are feeling that day. If you are feeling a bit in your head or have been experiencing extra stress in your life, try Abhyanga. If you have been feeling sluggish, heavy or unmotivated, try waking your body with a dry brush.
Oil Pulling: During this time working on the outside of your body, it is a great time to do oil pulling. Oil pulling helps to pull accumulated toxins out of the mouth and can be done anywhere from 5 minutes up to 20 minutes. Pulling oil daily can help reduce cavities, plaque and toxins, it also has an added benefit of whitening the teeth. Using a simple filtered coconut oil is recommended to those new to pulling as it has very little flavor.
Abhyanga: Is a massage that can be done to oneself using either oil or dry herbs. Beginning at the extremities and working towards the heart, use long strokes on the limbs, circular motions on the joints and clock wise direction on the belly (following the path of the large intestines). Sesame oil is a great tridoshic oil (good for all doshas), although if there is a Kapha aggravation or it is during the spring, it is recommended that one adds a dry herb or chickpea flour to their oil to create extra stimulation. One can also use a dry scrub of calamus powder after their oil message to lift any excess oil from the skin, which otherwise is fine to leave on the skin.
Some benefits of Abhyanga include:
- Strengthening the body, increasing stamina and toning the muscles.
- Pacifies Vata dosha (oil).
- Pacifies Kapha dosha (dry powder).
- Calms the mind and helps to promote sound sleep and less stress.
Dry Brushing: Dry brushing is great to add to any daily bathing routine as it doesn't take much time and can be done while one is in the shower or bath. Using a natural bristled brush, brush in the same pattern as one would do Abhyanga.
Some benefits of Dry Brushing include:
- Stimulating the lymphatic system (reducing illness an inflammation while promoting vitality and increasing immunity).
- Stimulates cellular rejuvenation.
- Improves circulation.
- Exfoliates impurities from the skin.
- Reduces cellulite and reduces fat accumulation.
- Improves digestion and kidney function.
Try to eat a freshly cooked, warm breakfast. Portion size should be enough to satisfy but not to make you feel full or heavy. Some great Ayurvedic breakfast ideas are quinoa porridge, seasoned barley, savory oatmeal or kitchari. When life doesn't allow for a freshly cooked breakfast, try preparing breakfast the night before and reheating it on the stove in the morning. Try to avoid cold, difficult to digest foods first thing in the morning.
1 tbs ghee
1/2 tsp asafetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fresh minced ginger or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 C seasonal vegetables (bitter greens, peppers, onions, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, carrots and celery)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 1/4 C water
Add ghee, asafetida, ginger and cumin seeds to a pot on medium heat. Simmer for 30 seconds. Add chopped seasonal vegetables and sauté until them start to soften. Add oats, coriander and turmeric powder, stir well. Add water and cover, cook until the oats are the consistency you are seeking, about 7-10 minutes.
1 C quinoa
1/2 tbs ghee
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
Wash 1 cup quinoa thoroughly. Heat 1/2 tbs ghee over medium heat and sauté a pinch of cumin seeds until the aroma starts to come out. Add the quinoa and mix well. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 2 cups hot water. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to a simmer and cover. Let cook for about 15-20 minutes.
1/2 C barley
3 C water
1/2 burdock root or 1 tbs dried root
1/4 tsp salt or bullion
1/4 stick kombu
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp ghee
1/2 tsp black pepper
Add 1/2 cup dry barley, 3 cups water, 1/2 burdock root (washed, peeled and finely chopped), 1/4 tsp salt or 1/2 teaspoon bullion, and 1/4 stick kombu in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook until tender, 40-50 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp dry sage, ghee and black pepper and allow it to simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Makes about 2-3 servings.
3/4 cup basmati rice
1 cup beans (mung beans, chickpeas, navy beans or adzuki beans)
6 cups water
1 inch minced ginger
2 tsp ghee or coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp coriander posder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 pinch asafoetida
3-4 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (bitter greens, peppers, onions, leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, peas, carrots and celery)
1 cup chopped cilantro
Soak beans overnight or up to 8 hours. Rinse the rice. In a large pot warm the oil (ghee or coconut) on medium heat. Add fennel, mustard and cumin seeds, salute seeds until they start to pop. Add the rest of the spices, finger, rice and mung beans. Stir well and then slowly begin to add the 6 cups of water and your choice of vegetables (hold leafy greens to be added closer to the end). Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and cook until all ingredients are tender, about 45 minutes. Add fresh cilantro and salt to taste and serve.