We often think of self-care as a pampering regime, and this is true to an extent. Whatever makes us feel good and relaxed can fall into this category. A massage, a spa day, having a nap etc are all great ways to incorporate more self-care into our life. These however take time and sometimes require extra spending which for some maybe it is not an option.
But self-care can also mean doing what is good for your body and mind, such as preparing a nutritious meal, practicing asana, meditation, etc. Ayurveda is a beautiful life science linked to the yoga philosophy through which we can learn to adopt habits that can serve our body and mind toward maintaining good health. Here are 5 of my top Ayurveda inspired self-care tips that are quick and easy to incorporate to our every day.
DRY SKIN BRUSHING
This is a top Ayurvedic tip and it’s definitely one of my favourites. Before showering every morning, dry brush your skin, starting with the arms, stomach, chest, back, feet and legs. Brush in an upward movement without pressing the brush bristles too much. Dry brushing helps us to get rid of dead skin cells, energises the body and stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory systems. It is a wonderful daily gentle exfoliation technique and a great way to look after our skin. Be sure to always shower after and to moisturise the skin well after the shower. I personally love using coconut oil (as I have Pitta dosha) or sometimes almond oil, but a nice, natural moisturiser is also lovey for the skin.
Drinking herbal teas can come with great benefits for the body and mind. Depending on our current state, we can enjoy a cup of freshly brewed herbal tea to create more balance and maintain harmony. I personally love chamomile tea and I have it on most evenings. It calms the nervous system and it’s a great digestive aid, which means whilst sleeping, the digestive system is being supported to digest the food eaten that day. There’s so many different herbal teas, including green tea for energising the mind and its rich antioxidants properties; turmeric and ginger tea, for its heating quality and digestive boost; ginger tea for an overall wellness fix, rosemary tea for improving mental concentration and memory etc. Find which is the most suitable for you and take 5-10minutes out of your day, to enjoy that cup of tea.
MINDFUL MORNING BREATHING
The way we start our day most of the time defines how the day will be. Take 5-10minutes every morning when you wake up, to do some pranayama or mindful breathing. Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is suitable because it brings balance between the two main energies in the body, the masculine and feminine. It also helps to calm the mind, and clear the sinuses. Counting breathing is also a good concentration technique. Seating in Sukhasana or lay down, count to 5 for each inhale and the same for your exhalations. Do so for a few minutes. This will help you turn your senses inward and regulate your breathing.
It goes without saying that asana practice is first a habit of self-care and self-respect. We practice to look after our body, to make it stronger, more flexible and steadier. As Ayurveda and yoga go hand in hand, establishing a daily asana practice therefore can benefit our overall wellness. Overtime, you will start to notice that your mind is more clear and you are able to focus more on daily tasks. Let’s not forget of course that it helps us to learn how to breathe properly. A well-balanced asana practice always places importance on the breath. Learn to be in the asana and breathe comfortably in it.
The water element is associated with Swadisthana, the sacral chakra. This energy centre is what connects us to the joy and sweetness of life, feeling creative and passionate in all we do. In the evenings, hot showers are indicated as this relaxes the muscles and the mind. Cold showers are the opposite however, as they energise the mind and boost metabolism, so they are best done in the morning. Taking in consideration what suits your primary dosha of course, gives yourself an extra 5 minutes in the shower every evening. Just stand under the water and feel it on your skin, releasing any tensions or worries you may have. Close your eyes and visualise the water washing all these away, cleaning not only your body but the mind too. The water element is very powerful and we can learn to connect with it on a deeper level.