Six daily Ayurvedic practices to inculcate
Even if you have reservations about embracing Ayurveda as a way of life, you can still derive immense benefits from some daily Ayurvedic practices that are easy to do and require virtually no equipment nor any special ingredients.
1# Wake up to a glass of warm water
It’s common knowledge that drinking a glass of warm water on waking up can help flush out toxins from the body by galvanizing the digestive system. It also serves as a laxative by stimulating bowel movements and can help alleviate menstruation cramps. For those wanting to shed a few pounds, this routine can be your new best friend—it amps up your metabolism and this, in turn, helps burn more calories. Warm water also helps if you are suffering from a cold or any kind of congestion.
2# Include tongue scraping in your morning routine
They say the mouth is a great way to gauge your medical health. In fact, every morning when you go to brush, you can stick your tongue out and see what kind of coating has formed from the food you ate the night before. These are toxins, and by scraping this coating off, you prevent these toxins from re-entering the body. In fact, if you pay attention and notice the coating (the colour, how thick or thin it is), you can tell how good or bad your digestion has been. Rule of thumb: Foods that are heavier to digest (think refined flour-based foods) will produce a thicker, white coating. Left unremoved, it can hinder respiration, cause foul-smelling breath, interfere with your tastebuds, and cause you to crave unhealthy foods.
3# Start oil pulling every day
Did you know that the mouth can house approximately 700 types of bacteria? Swishing oil in your mouth every morning, called oil pulling, can help gid rise of these, and therefore provide a lot of benefits. It can improve the health of your teeth by preventing cavities and tooth decay, provide moisture to your gums, reduce any swelling, and help reduce halitosis (bad breath). You can use any cold pressed oil such as coconut, sunflower or sesame or just plain olive oil and just swish a capful of it around your mouth for a few minutes every day. It may also help to whiten teeth though there aren’t enough studies to corroborate this.
4# Practise daily yoga
In my last column, I talked at length about the benefits of yoga and it is a daily practise that you can easily inculcate in your routine. Yoga has tremendous benefits for the body and mind; it helps your organs and internal systems to work efficiently while also helping the mind to declutter so you can focus on the day ahead. Fitness and mobility are other benefits you will experience and the daily exercise of pranayama (breathing) done using a specific technique will help to increase your oxygen intake and thereby amp up your circulation and respiratory systems. When you learn to just observe the breath without reacting to any passing thoughts, you are practising meditation.
5# Have a warm breakfast
Ayurveda believes that a warm breakfast helps to stimulate the digestive system and this helps in absorption. It revs up your immunity and helps you combat illness, stress, and daily fatigue. The reason a warm breakfast is recommended is because the body finds it hard to digest cold, raw foods when the metabolism is low and has not received a stimulant. A warm porridge or cereal is ideal for your AM meal.
6# Get a good night’s rest
In recent years, the importance of sleep and the function it plays in restoring our bodily functions, has become a part of mainstream health conversations. Apart from rejuvenation, sleep also helps the body to process and assimilate everything that’s happened in the day—physical, emotional and mental. However, not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, and how much sleep we need also fluctuates with the changing seasons. While we can function with a few nights of less sleep, a state of chronic deprivation will definitely affect long-term health. It will come in the way of the body healing itself and lead to various other problems such as emotional imbalance, physical health problems, and the inability to withstand infection.
While a circadian rhythm is what is advised (aligning your sleep and wake time with that of the rising and setting sun), you should try and figure out a routine that works for you and builds in at least 7-8 hours of daily sleep. A calming night-time routine such as taking a warm bath, staying away from technology and devices of all sorts, making your bedroom calm and non-cluttered, and listening to soothing music, can all help. Any routine that works for you is great.
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