So you’re waiting for a consultation and you’re wondering, “what can I do now? How can I start practicing Āyurveda, right now?” What a great question!
It’s true that Āyurveda tailors its recommendations to each individual, but there are also some overarching practices that everyone can benefit from.
We need to develop greater awareness of what’s going on inside and outside of us. This will help us make choices that are aligned with our health.
These routines are tri-doshic; things everyone can incorporate into their lives to create a foundation of balance. I will be sharing a lot of links from my teacher’s and/or great resources. Strap in and get ready to play! 🙏
Tongue scraping: toxins accumulate on the tongue throughout the day and through tongue scraping we are able to eliminate those toxins so they don’t get reabsorbed into the body.
One of my teachers, Dr. John Douillard, wrote a beautiful article about the benefits and technique of tongue scraping. In it he lists the four benefits of tongue scraping:
- Reduces undesirable bacteria in the mouth that can compromise gum, teeth and oral health.
- Reduces volatile sulfur compounds (VSC), which are by-products of mouth bacteria linked to bad breath.
- Improves taste sensation and reduces tongue coating.
- Changes the environment of the mouth to reduce putrefaction and decrease bacterial load.
His article gives detailed instructions too!
Abhyanga: abhyanga is the practice of oiling your skin. It helps to balance the nervous system, and lubricate and promote flexibility in the body. There are two main practices of abhyanga that I generally recommend, the long-form and short-form.
The short form is a simple, light oiling of the skin after a shower–technically this isn’t abhyanga proper, but in our day and age we need to adapt and some oil on the skin is better than none!
The long-form (abhyanga proper) is a pre-shower practice that takes about 30-45 min. Here you’re using about 1/2-1 cup of oil and gently massaging it into your body.
Seriously, check out this site in general. It’s a wealth of information. If you get anything out of this article I hope it’s getting lost in Dr. Douillard’s website reading about all of the health benefits of Āyurveda.
Observations: Observation is the key to Āyurveda. Through it we can begin to notice how things (foods, activities, thoughts, weather, etc.) effect us and when the effects change. Start by developing awareness of these things:
- Notice the quality of your skin. Is it hot? Cold? Oily? Dry?
- Observe the qualities of your excrement and urine (the color, consistency, amount, smells).
- Look at your tongue and become acquainted with the cracks, grooves, smells and dips. 😛👅
- Notice any pains in your body (back, joints, etc.). Are they fleeting, constant, dull or sharp?
- Start to taste how your energy changes throughout the day–do you wake up feeling rested? Does your energy dip in the middle of the day?
- Finally, try to observe your reactivity throughout the day–what triggers you? Do you generally feel fearful, angry, or depressed? What is the quality of your emotions? 🙇
Spiritual Practices: in general, spiritual practice helps to subtilize the senses; It helps us become more aware of the world in and outside of us. Even if you have no desire to ever be enlightened, daily spiritual practice can help in a number of ways; It can help to calm your mind, regulate your digestion, balance your emotions, and much more. And really, who doesn’t want these things?
Pranayama: breathing exercises like alternate nostril breath, or full yogic breath can help to organize dis-organized energy. Do you have a busy mind? Fluctuations in mood? How about constipation? Simply teaching yourself to breath correctly can help. Of course diet and lifestyle must also be addressed. Here’s a basic alternate nostril breath video, and full yogic breath (or dirgha) here.
Yoga: yoga helps us to get in our bodies; it helps us to sync our breathing with our movements; it gives strength, flexibility, and keeps the mind steady. Some people have reported better sleep, confidence, more balanced mood, even. The list goes on. In general, Hatha yoga is a more balancing practice of yoga. Hatha is a slow yoga, where holding the pose and breathing is primary form. This style helps to build strength, body awareness, and it doesn’t disturb the internal winds like some other forms of yoga.
Meditation: the practice of meditation helps us to be with what is; no meddling, no trying to change things. It helps us to be more adaptable. Meditation also help calm the emotions and give us perspective. As the practice develops, we also discover a greater capacity to observe ourselves and our habits. My recommendation would be to find a qualified teacher of meditation to help guide you on this journey. If you find meditation is your thing, it’s important to have a guide for this beautiful, ever evolving practice.