31 Days of Ayurveda - Week 2
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
DAY 8 - DAILY ROUTINES
It has been said that “Dinacharya” (daily routine) is one of the most important & powerful aspects to Ayurveda in keeping you, the individual, on the path of wellbeing. Incorporating a daily routine was actually really quite difficult for me as a Vata. Noticing the difference of before and after I created one for myself based on Ayurvedic principales is insanely remarkable. For one, it’s actually made waking up and going to bed early quite enjoyable, when historically I have been 100% more of a night Kat than a day Kat. It’s also brought a sense of clarity to not only my day, but my mind-body-spirit as well. It grounds me, it settles me, and it provides me a way to care for myself than I had ever before understood.
This isn’t an ‘every size fits all’ type of daily routine either. Understanding what your constitution is and where you are imbalanced will help you uncover what suggested principales you can incorporate into your life. And I get it, adding any type of new element to your lifestyle can be painfully hard, even when it’s healthy. You have the best intention to begin the process, but your mind ends up winning the battle and you settle back into a way that, although familiar, just isn’t working for you. I suggest simply trying to incorporate one daily routine from the list I will be providing in the coming days. Some will be for nighttime, some for morning. They are so self-caring that they can’t harm you, but your mind will tell you otherwise. Discipline becomes the name of the game at that point.
Some of the daily routines I will be covering in the next couple of days are as follows:
Nighttime Routine :
The IMMENSE importance of shutting sh*t down an hour before your eyes close (I’m talkin phones, tv, laptop, allllll of that)
Self massage (body & hair)
Warm shower or bath
Creating a beautiful space for sleeping
No food after a certain time
Bath, journalling, reading & releasing negative energy
Sleep at the same time each night
Daytime Routine :
Waking up at the same time each day
Self care in the am (tongue brush, oil pull, warm lemon water, dry brush)
Movement & meditation
Empty out bladder & elimination
Tomorrow, I begin to dive into Part 1 of Nighttime Routines.
DAY 9 - NIGHTTIME ROUTINE PT.1
To set yourself up for a powerful day, you need to ensure you’re nourishing your body-mind-spirit at night. What we do during our daily nighttime routine can directly influence how we sleep, rest, repair our bodies & wake up in the morning. And aligning our nighttime activities with our Ayurvedic clock can have immense bonuses to our overall wellbeing. ]
First I’m going to go a little further in detail about entering the 2nd Kapha Period from 6pm-10pm, and the 2nd Pitta Period from 10pm-2am. According to the 24HR Ayurvedic clock, your body starts to prep itself for sleep around the time you are getting home from work. Remember the heavy, dense constitution of the Kapha? We’ll it’s taking over again, and that heavy energy will begin to set in. It’s recommended that no invigorating exercise (besides sex as it’s natural to want to sleep after engaging in such a heart opening, expended energy session) be done at this time, as well as eating a light meal. Meditation & quiet time are key to set yourself up for a blackout, knock your socks off, marshmallow kingdom sleep.
Have you ever started to feel a second wind coming on right as your gearing up to go to bed? Maybe the low hum of a bear grumble starts to rumble its way from inside your belly. This is because your digestive fires lite once again starting around 10pm - coinciding with the second Pitta Period. Fight the urge to shove your face into that tub of ice cream, it won’t do you any good. You see, during your time of sleep, the body is using its digestive fires to repair damaged cells and rejuvenate your body. If you reach for that bag of chips or destroy that last slice of pizza, your body will have no choice but to concentrate on digesting that food instead of repairing the body, allowing for potential toxins to form.
Bottom line - Eat a light dinner and stop eating before 8pm, so your body has a chance to repair and renew itself during sleep. Tomorrow I will begin to outline the suggested daily nighttime routines during this Kapha Period that will leave you falling asleep faster, waking less, and rejuvenate the body as we prepare ourselves for 💤
Day 10 - Nighttime Routine Pt.2
The first element I’m going to talk about in Part 2 is Shutting Sh*t Down. Many people tend to get home from a long day and what do they do? Turn on the TV. Fire up the home computer or laptop. “One more thing to take care of before dinner.” “One more email to send before bed.” We are more yet less connected to each other as humans than ever before. And truth is, all of that delayed shutting down of electronics is having a major impact on your psychological health, and most likely relationships.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the use of any electronic device before bed “delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This is largely due to the short-wavelength, artificial blue light that’s emitted by these devices. The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep.” Yeah, it messes with you. You’ve probably been used to taking the phone to bed with you as an alarm, but it ends up glued to your hand as your scroll through Becky and her new hair cut on Instagram. And I bet you don’t feel so good when you finally peel yourself away and turn off the light. So maybe, just maybe as a challenge, try and shut that sh*t that down an hour before bed for a few days and notice if there are any changes in your zzzzzzzzz.
The second element I’m going to talk about is Setting the Mood. Your bedroom should be your zen place, your sacred sleep environment. It should be a place of beauty, sensuality and calm. Ditch all electronics from the bedroom and replace with candles, aromatherapy, sex, connection and chill vibes. You spend A LOT of time in your bedroom (an average of 26 years in the research I’ve done), so why not make it a space that you actually want to be. That you look forward to spending time alone or with your partner. Invest in some kick ass pillow and covers. Fill the room with greenery and pump in excess oxygen. Crack a window on a beautiful night and feel the breeze as it gently sends you off to lala land. Flow in some sensual scents that remind you of a beautiful memory or person in your life. Whatever you can do to chill TF out. Such simple practices to follow, but are we? Take stock of your bedroom and see where you can improve. Tomorrow is the last chat on nightly routines and step by step ways to enter the best possible way we can into sleep mode Ayurveda style.
DAY 11 - Nighttime Routine Pt. 3
How to ready the physical body for bed. Not enough people spend QT time tending to their physical bodies. I’ve been guilty of this throughout the course of my life. My body was, safe to say, a stranger to me up until really about a year ago. Ayurveda is a HUGE self-caring proponent. This includes self-massages, food as medicine/nourishing the body, grounding the body, releasing negative energy, taking stock & really feeling your emotions. Listen to your body - it’ll tell you what’s up.
Here’s a breakdown of suggested Ayurvedic Nighttime Routine Elements. Pick and choose one or a few that feel right for you & incorporate them slowly into your routine:
Meditate when arriving home from work, or just rest in some QT alone
Eat light dinner - Somewhere between 6pm - 8pm •Treat your body-mind-spirit to Restorative or Yin Yoga
Turn off all electronics - The earlier the better, but no later than 9pm
Love yourself with oil - Before heading to the bedroom, treat yourself to an all encompassing (self) body massage, or “Abhyanga”. Can be done in the am before you shower, or at night before bed. Not only do you get to spend some QT time with your body, you are also nourishing yourself with your touch, or that of your partner. Massage enhances your circulation & stimulates your lymphatic system. It also nourishes the body with warm oil. I will give further instructions on how to self- massage in the Morning Routine days. (Best to use all organic oil - For Vata & Kapha, cold-pressed warmed Sesame Oil. For Pitta, cold-pressed Coconut Oil)
Reflexology - Adding to the above, Ayurveda suggests a nightly reflectology massage by stimulating the reflex points on your feet, ears, crown of your head and hands. It’s intensely calming & soothing to the entire body & nervous system, and I highly reco trying this above any other elements to incorporate. Be mindful to make sure the oil is close to absorbed as possible before sinking into those sheets. Use firm but gentle pressure, and TAKE YOUR TIME
Release Negative Energy - A bath before bed is a great way to release built up negative energy from the day as water has immense healing properties
Journal - Reflect on the day. Its an awesome way to release anything that has unsettled you throughout the day. I actually love to journal more to reflect on how I was feeling on a particular day so I can look back at these entries down the road and think, “Woah, was I ever hurting at that time and I didn’t even see it. What can I do as present Kat to learn from that.”
Check in, how are you feeling after reading the above list? Has it become a little overwhelming or are you stoked and open to try and incorporate some new night routines? As I mentioned before, creating and sticking to a routine of any kind can be tough, especially at the beginning when your mind is fighting you. The key is discipline and not to overwhelm yourself. As a Vata, I struggle and FIGHT routine of any sort even though I know they are of major benefit to me. I’ve fallen off the routine wagon many times but revisiting Ayurveda these 31 days has lit a fire under my ass and I’m more pumped than ever to reestablish my practices ⚡️Morning Routines begin tomorrow.
DAY 12 - AM Routine Pt.1
In my most recent research on the subject, I’ve learnt it’s best for Vatas to follow a pm routine over an am routine given our penchant for being too much in our minds, and not being able to fall or stay asleep b/c of it. A calm, relaxing, satiating pm routine can be just what the self needs to balance out the imbalances. (Doesn’t mean we’re off the hook for morning routines). Pittas & Kaphas however do best in keeping an am routine as it takes them a little longer to get up & moving.
Today I’m going to touch upon the best time to rise, and what I do first thing. The way we rise in the morning can really set the tone for how the rest of our day is going to go. What do you think it does to your brain’s mental alertness when you hit snooze 5 times in a morning? Some scientists say that it may confuse the brain into starting the process of sleep all over again. Safe to say we know it’s not great for us, but we just can’t help it, can we….? Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can help with this. It will allow a natural flow to our body’s circadian rhythm.
According to the Ayurvedic textbooks I’ve read, it’s suggested to rise around 6am, following or near following the rise of the sun. In winter however, some grace is allowed to rising before 7am. The early morning hours are full of sattvic vibes, mental clarity and positivity. I used to just be winding down the night as the more balanced people of the world were beginning to rise back in my alcohol fueled days. I could never understand how people could actually CHOOSE to wake up at this godforeseen hour. Jokes on me - I was depressed, angry, sad, blah, all of the above back in those days. And now, in taking care of myself and allowing Ayurveda into my space, I am more focused, connected, stable, powerful than I have ever been, and yes, I do wake up at 6am hah. Well, technically 5:30.
In keeping with my Ayurvedic practices, here are my go-tos as I first wake up before heading out to yoga or HITT:
Before moving from out of my bed, I rub my hands in front of my 🖤 (adding heat), place my palms over my eyelids and gently open my eyes. This is my intro to the day
I take a quick scan of my body and breathe/stretch into any tight areas
I head to the bathroom sink, look at myself in the mirror and say “Good Morning” and smile. Yeah, I do. It begins to connect myself & my body. Through the looking glass..I then splash cold water on my face and into my mouth to rinse.
The night before, I prepare a room temp glass of water w/ Himalayan sea salt. Once out of bed, I head to the kitchen and add a shot of lemon juice. This drink first thing in the am helps to eliminate toxins from my body and aids in promoting healthy digestion.
A quick brush of my teeth and I’m out the door to incorporate some movement
In the next couple of days, I’ll dive a bit deeper into some further common Ayurvedic am routine practices, and why they are so important in connection mind-body-spirit.
DAY 13 - Morning Routine Pt.2
Applying Daily Morning Routines can be challenging, I get it. Setting that alarm for even 15 min earlier can seem impossible. An idea to help you stick to it could be to write out a list of your morning routine practices and tape them on your bathroom mirror. Yes, you can always choose to ignore then, but what would be the fun in that?
Here are some further Daily AM Ayurvedic Practices to start your day:
Wake up at the same time everyday - Don’t allow for that snooze button to rule your life.
Empty out your bladder & bowels - Remember that 2nd Pitta time (10pm - 2am) when our body is eliminating toxins and repairing cells? Well, going pee and taking a poo first thing will help cleanse the system of those toxins. Regular elimination is key to keeping order in our bodies and a sure sign of healthy digestion. Towards the end of the month, I’ll be getting into how to balance your Doshas and what foods to eat according to your constitution to aid in this becoming a natural flow.
Splash cold water on your face and over your eyes - Using a face wash is NOT necessary at this time, it’ll just strip your skin of it’s natural oils, something we, especially I need to hold onto during these cold, dry winters. Option - With your eyes closed, rotate your eyeballs in their sockets, giving them some movement before being opened and strained for the next 12 hours.
Drink warm lemon water - I mentioned that in yesterday’s post. This will help clean out your bowels, start the digestive fires and remove toxins from the night before.
Scrap your tongue & brush your teeth - Tongue scraping, one of my fav Ayurvedic practices. Once you add it and see what it does, you won’t want to go a day without it. This action has many benefits. It stimulates the digestive system (why it’s best to do it in the am), it removes bacteria formed on your tongue throughout the night, and eliminates any ama (toxins) that have accumulated in the body overnight. A tongue scraper can be bought at most any health food stores or a quick search on Amazon can help you out too. A spoon can be used as well to test it out. To scrape the tongue, hold the tongue scraper towards the back of your tongue. Using mild pressure, place the edge of the scraper on the back of the tongue and gently scrape down towards the tip in one motion. Rinse & repeat a few rounds. Ayurveda recommends brushing your teeth with bitter-tasting ingredients such as neem or liquorice toothpaste.
Oil Pulling - This is my absolute favourite Ayurvedic morning practice. So many advantages to incorporating this practice including wrinkle prevention, strengthening & stabilizing your jaw & teeth, reducing gum inflammation, stimulating tastebuds, removing excess toxins from the mouth and whitening teeth naturally. It’s best to do this after you have tongue scraped and brushed teeth. Sesame Oil is recommended for Vata & Kaphas, although I find the taste a little too strong for me. I prefer using coconut oil, recommended for Pittas. It's suggested to do this after tongue scraping & teeth brushing. Start small, take tsp - 2tsp of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth and begin to swirl it around. Try it for 30 seconds, and then move up from there. I actually put about 1tbsp of coconut oil in my mouth and swirl for about 2-3min. Make sure to spit it out in your compost bin, NOT your sink as it could begin to harden in your pipes. Rinse with cold water, et voila.
Oil in Nostrils (a form of Nasya) - Some Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend swirling and coating your nostrils with sesame oil. Lubrication of the nostrils, especially in these dry, cold months, can aid in your nostrils feeling a lot healthier. The easiest and most beginner form of Nasya is “pinky in the nose”, placing sesame oil on the tip of the pinky finger and gently swabbing the inside of your nostrils until well lubricated.
I think that’s enough for today. Tomorrow I will get into Movement and Meditation. 2 KEY elements in the Morning Ayurvedic Practices.
Day 14 - Movement & Meditation (Morning Routine Pt.3)
Let’s start with the importance of movement first thing in the am. Your body’s been in god knows what position all night - back rounded, hips uneven, neck krinked, head or too high or too low. You may even wake up stiff or aching or tight. Then what? You wake up, go straight to sit at the table to eat (maybe), then straight to your car to drive to work, then straight to your desk to sit for the next 8 hours, not allowing for your muscles, tissues, fascia, bones, joints, a chance to re-calibrate, stretch. Ouch, literally.
The importance of physical health is astronomical. Nothing can replace our physical health, and this day and age, we have to work for it more than ever before. If you think about it, back in the day, physical movement was part of everyday life - farming, gardening, hunting, walking, lifting, etc. Even when you were a kid most of your life revolved around physical activities. Now we're hard pressed to find the time to incorporate any physical activities into our busy lives.
Morning movement doesn’t have to be intense. In fact for Vatas, it’s the exact opposite. I’m more partial to yoga. It’s the sister science to Ayurveda, having originated at the same time 5,000 + years ago (more about the relationship between Yoga & Ayurveda towards the end of the month). The physical benefits to yoga are key to optimizing flexibility, balance and strength as our bodies continue to age (of course, not to mention your emotional & spiritual health as well). Balance is key though, and we can’t forget about incorporating some type of cardio and strength training as well.
As far as the Doshas go, here are some suggestions to get yourself moving in the am.
Vatas - Require an exercise routine that is both gentle and creative. And that can keep their attention. Vatas do best with walking (out in nature if possible to ground), swimming, yoga (light flow or yin/restorative), or pilates. It’s best to mix it up so they don’t get bored and quit.
Pittas - Our competitive natured pittas. Pittas tend to have a lot of stamina and don’t typically tire too easily. That internal Pitta fire keeps them going when others may have given up. They especially shine when performing outdoor activities in the early morning, absorbing cool air into their bodies and cells. PIttas do well with running, jogging, biking, hiking and swimming. Yoga flow classes would suit them just fine too, just stay away from the ‘hot’ yoga classes as that may aggravate and already spicy Pitta.
Kaphas - Being composed of Water & Earth, Kapahas need movement in their daily routines or they can get caught in a stagnant rut. Kaphas require the most rigorous am activities to really wake themselves up, and do best when challenged by a goal - like training for a marathon. Their solid structures allow for high levels of stamina and endurance sports and anything such as running long distances, spinning and HITT classes they would enjoy.
“There is no one yoga meditation technique any more than there is only one yoga asana (pose) or only one yogic form of pranayama (breath).” David Frawley - Author, Teacher Vedic/Ayurvedic Tradition.
I won’t go into too much detail at this time about the type of meditation most commonly associated with Ayurveda - Vedic Meditation - I have that saved for another post towards the end of January. What I will share now though is my experience in meditation - When I meditate in the morning, I notice a difference in the way I approach my day. If I do it, I am more calm, aware, focused, and not so quick to throw a sh*t fit when driving into work. When I miss morning meditation, I feel iritable, short tempered, my focus is off, I’m off. It’s best for all parties involved that I meditate.
It’s recomended to sit in stillness/meditation after doing some movement. The ancient yogis would perform asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing) in preparation for seating hours in meditation. Not feasible these days? Not so much, but preparing the body is still a good idea. Meditation has so many benefits and yet so many people feel intimidated by it. There’s nothing to it. Even if you sit for 5 minutes in the morning, you’re already helping the mind to focus, balance out energy levels, calm the nervous system, relax the body. There are some apps that can help you with this. One is called 'Calm', and another is called 'Insight Timer'. There you will find hundreds of meditations to try, and all different lengths. I practice Transcendental Mediation, and is close in relation to Vedic Meditation. It’s a form of meditation that utilizes a mantra to focus on. You can also try these different types of techniques:
Placing awarenss on different parts of your body, feeling into them
Concentrating on breath
Visualization/soft focus of objects
Guided Meditations (apps are super helpful with this)
In my experience, incorporating movement and meditation into my mornings has added another degree of self-awareness I never had before. I am rotating from HITT to Yoga throughout the week and am balancing my strength to my flexibility. I’ve felt better than I ever have before in my 38 years on this earth. Adding to that the quiet and stillness I receive from meditation and I’m begining to like this Kat Black more and more.