Make your mornings extra special with these 4 morning Ayurvedic practices to boost overall wellness.
Ayurveda provides us so much wisdom on living life in a balanced way, according to the cycles and flow of nature. The way we start our mornings has a big impact on our wellness and plays an important role for the rest of the day. Habits that provide our body and mind with nourishment are favoured because if we feel good, then we can function at an optimum level.
Here are some simple morning habits to take in consideration for starting your day inspired from Ayurvedic wisdom.
Drink warm water
In Ayurveda, we always focus on the strength and wellbeing of our digestive system, or as we call it in Sanskrit, agni, which is our digestive fire. Ayurveda advises to drink warm water not only in the morning, but throughout the day. Why? Because this helps to kindle the agni, or keep the digestive fire in a natural heat required for it to do its functions without disruption. Think about the time when you wake up. The digestive fire needs a little help to get started for the day so it can become and remain strong throughout the day. If we drink cold water (which is almost never advised in Ayurveda) then we put the fire out. But drinking warm water (not hot) will help the agni to be strong and healthy, so that it has the heat required to cook "digest" our foods throughout the day. Lemon and fresh ginger can be added for those with Vata or Kapha predominant dosha, or for those who have imballances in these doshas. Pita can also enjoy lemon or lime in the water, but if you have Pita aggravation (too much heat), then warm water by itself is enough and the heat from the lemon and ginger is not required.
Light, warm breakfast
During the morning time, 6am-10am is considered Kapha time. This means that the qualities of Kapha are predominant in this part of the day. Some of these are heavy, cold, moist, solid, slow. So ideally for breakfast time, our meal should be the opposite of the qualities, which would suggest something warm and light. Raw food such as fruits have a cooling effect, so these are not indicated for the first meal the day, especially for Kapha and Vata dosha predominant people. Pita can sometimes get away with it because they naturally have a stronger agni, but as a general best practice of Ayurveda, avoid cooling foods in the morning. We cook the food to make it more easy to digest once it enters the body. So a warm porridge can be taken with spices such as cinnamon and cardamon, which have warming quality and support the digestion. Basmati rice pudding is also a great choice as basmati rice is considered a sattvic food in Ayurveda, nourishing and easy to digest. You can also use quinoa because for some this can feel lighter than rice especially for Kapha dosha. See here my recipe for spiced quinoa pudding.
Cooked stewed spiced apples (as shown in the photo) or any other fruits in cooked form which suit your dosha can be taken. I have a great recipe for cooked apples which is one of my personal favourites. Some really enjoy taking simple cooked dal in the morning, which is highly nutritious and light for digestion. Keep the recipe simple with just the necessary spices and without any heavy additions or other vegetables. It is best to keep the breakfast simple.
If you love nuts and seeds, make sure you soak them before, to remove the dryness. And these can be added to your porridge.
Cool the face
According to Ayurveda, we should not use hot water or too much heat on the face and the head. The eyes and vision are associated with the fire element. Too much of this can create inflammation and energetically, there can be too much heating energy developed in the eyes. When we wake up in the morning, we should wash the face with cooling water to remove any excess of heat that has built up during the night time. This can also help to keep Pita in balance, because too much heat at the head level can manifest as anger, frustration, jealousy, toxic competitiveness etc. The water must not be ice cold but just cooling enough to refresh the eyes and the skin on the face.
Tongue scrapping and oil pulling
In Ayurveda, the tongue is an important part of digestion and an indication on what is happening inside the body. When we eat food, the tongue is the first part the food reaches which activates our taste buds. It is also the moistest part of the body (unless you have Vata imbalance) so it is quick to absorb. When there are toxins in the body, or as we call it n Ayurveda "ama" the tongue develops a coating which remains. It can also have other different aspects like dryness and cracking for Vata imbalance, inflammation for Pita aggravation, or strong, heavy white coating for Kapha aggravation. Therefore, we want to keep the tongue clean from any remaining food particles that get stuck there. It is normal to have a light white coating on the tongue in the morning, but once we do the scraping, a well balanced, healthy looking tongue will be smooth and pink-ish in colour. You can scrape your tongue using a copper tongue scraper (as shown in the photo) or you can even use a teaspoon, but just ensure this is clean and disinfected often. When scraping the tongue, do so gently so you don't hurt your tongue and remove its taste buds properties. You can start with tongue scraping, then brush your teeth.
And afterwards, comes the oil puling. Another very important and great wellness tip for oral care in Ayurveda is rinsing the mouth with oil. Coconut oil can be used for its antibacterial properties. It is also cooling, which helps with any inflammation of the gums. Sesame oil is another option, and this is the "golden" liquid of Ayurveda because it has so many incredible benefits, one of them being removing of toxins. Oil pulling can be done at the end of the oral care regime in the morning and in the evening. Rinse the mouth with the oil and keep it in the mouth for 5-20 minutes. Do not swallow the oil, but just move it inside the mouth and then when ready, release the oil out and rinse the mouth well with water. A helpful tip is to release the oil out of the mouth in the rubbish and not in the sink, to avoid clogging of the sink.
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