Ayurvedic medicine has a rich history, which was originally transmitted by oral tradition and then recorded in Sanskrit in four sacred texts called the Vedas. This ancient practice of ayurveda refers to connecting with us and maintaining harmony and balance with the natural world. Ayurvedic rituals are not just disease prevention, but simply treating them; they are also about how to live in a state of strength and energy. In India, more than 90 percent of the population uses some form of Ayurvedic medicine. Although it is becoming much more popular here in the West, it is still considered an alternative treatment.
The theory behind this drug is that all areas of life affect one’s health. Here in the Western world, we believe in the use of targeted tactics – prescription drugs in general – to treat certain diseases. Ayurveda views the body as a whole. Like traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda refers to the mind, body, and connection of the spirit.
The goal of Ayurvedic daily rituals is to restore the body to its original healthy state; true radiant beauty must be supported by health. They are in the heart of Ayurveda ojas, our life force, the essence of our health and well-being. They are our honey, the sap on the tree that is our body. Ojas gives us the ability to progress. When our eyes are strong, our bodies are firm and flexible, our skin is clear and shiny, and our hair is shiny and healthy. Ojas also allow us to overwhelm love and compassion.
However, the modern world takes a toll on ojas. Constant stress, processed foods, technology, excessive stretching, and too much information deplete the ojas and drain them. When we renew them – through meditation, healthy food and harmony with the universe – we become radiant.
Freeing the body of waste and toxins helps ojas to flourish, as detoxification allows the system to be nurtured. The goal of daily Ayurvedic practices is to improve your health. When your body gets rid of toxins, it will be able to get the healthy benefits of nutritious foods, face masks and body oils. Instead of promoting a rough, sudden approach to detoxification, Ayurveda uses a few small daily or weekly practices to ensure that your body always performs detoxification and handles waste efficiently.
Ayurvedic self-help practices
Slowly incorporate these practices into your day. You can start with something as small as integrating fresh products into your diet, massaging your feet before bed, or dry brushing your skin in the morning. These Ayurvedic supplements to your daily routine will help you to keep your body in rhythm and balance continuously. Once you get to know your body, you can adjust to certain practices.
1. Scraping the tongue
Scraping your tongue every morning can tell you how effective your digestive system is. If your tongue is very coated, it usually means that there is a lot of ama or toxicity in your system. With this Ayurvedic morning routine, you can determine how well your system expels toxins.
To scrape the tongue:
+ Use a stainless steel tongue scraper (which you can find online or in most health food stores) or a spoon. Gently scrape from the back or base of the tongue forward until you scrape the entire surface, which is usually achieved between seven and fourteen strokes. This removes all bacteria. Scraping stimulates stomach and digestive enzymes to wake up and start working.
+ Rinse your mouth and continue withdrawing the oil as the next Ayurvedic morning ritual.
2. Oil withdrawal
During the night, while you sleep, your body creates toxins while it is at rest, cleansing. Pulling the oil allows the release of these toxins. As an Ayurvedic ritual, oil extraction should be done first thing in the morning, before you drink or eat. Coconut, sunflower and sesame oil work well, but coconut oil has the added benefit of teeth whitening.
To practice oil extraction:
+ Take a tablespoon of oil and push it in your mouth for fifteen to twenty minutes (this is the recommended time period, but sometimes I do it for just a few minutes to feel the refreshing and whitening effects of coconut oil).
+ It is important to keep the oil in your mouth and not swallow it. It is also wise to spit it out in the toilet or in the trash can, as it can clog the sink.
+ After you finish extracting the oil, brush your teeth well or rinse your mouth.
3. Dry brushing
The skin is our largest organ and is responsible for 25% of the body’s detoxification ability, yet we focus our beauty and self-care routines on the face and hands when the whole body deserves respect and esteem. In addition to being an Ayurvedic ritual practice, brushing the skin for the whole body it has been used for centuries in Scandinavia, Russia, Japan, and Greece and by the Cherokee tribe (using dried corn cobs), to give just a few examples. Brushing the skin helps to rid the body of dead skin, and also stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory system, which help the kidneys and liver to release excess hormones that have accumulated in the organs.
Over time, dry brushing can prevent cellulite and help regenerate collagen, and in the short term it invigorates and energizes you. As you shed dead skin, you are also looking to release what no longer serves you. Dry brushing is an Ayurvedic ritual that should be performed before bathing or showering; your skin needs to be dry.
To practice dry brushing:
+ Use a body brush with natural bristles (I like the ones with copper that helps balance electromagnetic fields), move away from your feet and move towards your torso.
+ Brush each part of the body six times with long strokes in the direction of the heart.
+ Brush so that it is a little painful, but good – like when you stretch very deeply.
+ To increase the detoxification effects, follow a cold shower.
In the West, we consider massage a special treat, but for many in India, massages are a regular part of life and Ayurvedic self-care. Babies and small children are massaged every day, and when they grow up a little, they learn to massage their family members. Women do massages every day for forty days after giving birth. Once you get used to the health benefits and beauty of massages, you will not be able to do without them. Fortunately for our wallets, Ayurveda is considering self-massage, or abhyanga, to be as useful as a massage given by another.
Take some time once a week or daily, if you can, to practice abhyanga and you will soon see the benefits of this common Ayurvedic ritual, including taut, radiant skin; improved circulation; relieving joint stiffness; and flushing toxins from the body. It is also a wonderful way to get to know your body better. Use sesame, sunflower or almond oil for massage; it is extremely luxurious if you preheat it in a pan with hot water.
To practice self-massage:
+ Apply plenty of warm oil to the body, starting at the limbs. Use long strokes of the arms and legs and circular movements of the joints. Massage clockwise to release tension and include areas such as the neck and under the arms to target the lymph nodes.
+ Massage the abdomen and chest in wide circular motions in a clockwise direction. Follow the bowel path on the abdomen, moving up to the right and then down to the left.
+ Apply the oil to the crown chakra by working outwards in circular motions.
+ Dip your fingertips into the oil and massage your ears.
+ Massage your feet (but be sure to wipe off the oil before walking).
+ During the massage, send love intentions to your organs and show gratitude to your body for everything it does for you.
+ Allow yourself enough time for the oil to be absorbed into your skin before you get dressed.
If you don’t have time for a full massage, you can always take a small scoop of shea butter and do a foot massage before bed. This serves as a form of acupressure, and shea butter helps moisturize dry skin. At the same time, you respect your feet – which are your foundation – and how much they do for you during the day.
In ancient times, bathing was considered a gift of health to the gods themselves. Turning baths into one of your usual Ayurvedic rituals can be a therapeutic activity. Almost every night, after I take care of work, daughter and animals, I will indulge in a bath. Bathing is the perfect way to just feed and create a little refuge for yourself. Baths are cleansing and can improve physical and mental energy, remove negativity and relax the body and mind. They are also a wonderful way to absorb the deep therapeutic medicine of essential oils and other ingredients that are good for the skin.
Relaxing mineral bath
One of my favorite relaxing baths for all doshas is the magnesium bath. Most of us lack magnesium due to depleted food as a result of overloaded soil layers. Magnesium is essential for healthy skin and hair, helps with sleep and can promote a deep sense of calm and well-being.
To take a bath:
+ 1 cup magnesium flakes
+ 10 drops of relaxing essential oil (I like chamomile or lavender)
+ Fill the tub with water that is the ideal temperature for you. Add magnesium and essential oil before you enter. Soak for 20 minutes or more.
Clipwith permission Whole Beauty – Shiva Rose (Craft books). Copyright © 2018.