Daily Rituals & Routines for a Healthier Life

Who does not want to feel healthy and begin their day feeling full of energy and vitality? Over time I have adapted my Dinacharya or Ayurveda daily routine to fit as many of the rituals below in as possible. It’s a great way to begin and end the day as Ayurveda is all about self care and aligning with your Prakriti or true nature.

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Ideally wake up before 6am as after this time the Kapha cycle begins, which tends to feel heavier. Rising during the vata time will lend itself to a lighter and clearer nature. (there are some exceptions here, for example small children and their parents)

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Upon rising it is important to eliminate toxins and the previous day’s waste as this build up can affect our mood, digestion, and immunity. Elimination is done through urination and bowel movement. Drinking a cup of warm water may help with this process.

autographically Cleansing the senses

Washing the eyes with water, using a neti pot to clean the sinuses and using a tongue scraper and oil pulling (gargling oil such as coconut) to clear excess ama or digestive impurities from the tongue.

Self-Massage

Abhyanga or self-massage is a great way to tone the skin and muscles whilst calming the mind and soothing the nervous system. Using your preferred oil (I like sweet almond) massage the head, face and neck. Follow this by massaging the arms and legs using long up and down strokes. Use a circular motion going clockwise over the tummy finishing with up and down strokes along the feet. It is also a good idea to wait a few minutes before showering to allow the oil to soak in.

Yoga & Breathing Exercises

Now it is time for your daily exercise or Vyayama. Exercise is a great way to get the blood flowing and endorphins released. Your exercise could be a brisk walk, some yoga, a bike ride or basically anything that gets you moving. Pranayama techniques can be quite varied so it might be helpful to practice these with a teacher or just begin with diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing), breathing in through the nose for a count of 3 allowing the tummy to expand then breathing out the mouth slowly for a count of 3 as the tummy gently moves back down.

Be here now

A meditation practice is essential if we are to discover who we really are. The amount of time spent in silence increases our capacity for self-awareness. Daily practice is essential in cultivating this field of silence, as it is not possible to stop our thoughts, but we can learn to ease the fluctuations of our conceptual mind. Meditation brings us to an understanding that we are more than our thoughts, actions, and feelings, creating distance between our thinking mind and what we may refer to as our soul or jiva. We see beyond our perceived reality learning to connect to our awareness and live more in the present moment.

Bathing

Daily bathing is another way we can look after our body as it removes dirt and sweat, keeping us refreshed and energised. A warm shower in the morning is a great way to refresh and start the day.

Break-that-fast

Ayurveda tends to favour warm cooked nutritious food. Understanding your dosha and acknowledging the season is important as it means we are nourishing the body with the necessary seasonal foods. This will support our own internal homeostasis and our external environment.

Work it out

Mid-Morning is a great time to be productive. Whether it is work or study this is a time when the energy from the sun is rising, peaking around lunchtime. We can harness this energy from mid-morning to early afternoon utilising this to get focused and busy on our projects.

Lunch Break

Lunch is best taken when the sun is at its highest as it is also believed that our digestion works best around this time. Making lunch the biggest meal of the day may help if you struggle to digest a heavy meal later. Remember an Ayurvedic diet prefers cooked foods over lots of cold salads and juices so perhaps planning your meals ahead of time will help ensure you eat healthy.

Afternoon Pick Me Up

Many people notice a dip of energy mid-afternoon. Energy from the sun is beginning to dwindle around this time and Ayurveda encourages us to notice the elements and how these affect us. It might help to take a walk-in nature or take rest with yoga nidra. Either one of these will boost your energy and may be more beneficial than a caffeine or sugar filled snack which will affect sleep patterns later.

Evening Meal

Eat dinner before the sun goes down, which can differ during the winter and summer seasons. Aiming for around 5pm and no later than 7pm is a good option and will help will digestion and sleep.

Time for bed

An ideal bedtime should be no later than 10pm. This will ensure you get the adequate 7-8 hours rest. Slowing down in the evening, lessening screen time and the temptation to work will help improve sleep. Creating a calming space will also help, so no television or bright lights. Filling your bedroom with soothing scents like lavender and vetiver and using cotton bedsheets and supportive pillows will make your nights rest as comfortable as possible.

Remember this is a general guide to live by, helping you to maintain a routine that supports your wellbeing. There may be days when your routines differ such as when you travel so it is perfectly ok to just do a few of the steps if the whole routine feels too much or does not fit your schedule.

I hope you enjoy establishing a new routine and that this brings you more energy, health, and happiness.

Maria

3 Simple Steps to a Calmer Life

3 Simple steps to a calmer life  Santa Monica Cape Verde

By Maria Kelly on 2nd May 2016

 

Step 1. Take a deep breath….

 

Breathing – it’s simple enough, we do it all the time and without much thought. This automatic breathing will get you through the day sure enough, however deep conscious breathing will lead you to a place of inner calm helping to deal with stress and the effects this has on our wellness.

 

The quality of our breath is a great indicator into our physical state of wellbeing. Shallow breathing is when our diaphragm doesn’t move fully and this shortening of breath is quite common when we are stressed. We end up breathing into our chest and shoulders creating tension in these areas and limiting the amount of oxygen that we get.

 

The deep breathing performed during yoga asanas (postures) helps the body to function more efficiently, relieves tension and has a calming effect on the body and mind as a whole.

 

Diaphragm (Yogic) Breathing.

 

Begin by either sitting or lying in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and bring your awareness on to your breathing. Place one hand onto your chest and the other onto your tummy. Take a deep breath into the tummy noticing how this rises on the inhale and then how this falls on the exhale. Pause for a moment between each breath noticing the stillness in this space. Continue this, deepening the inhales and exhales by counting to 3, then pausing for 1. Do this for 5 minutes or longer if you have time.

 

Step 2. Learn to love the mundane…..

 

Ok, so not many of us enjoy doing house hold chores but we realise it is one of many necessary evils. So instead of viewing them as chores, why not try to find a way to enjoy them. Taking enjoyment in the little things can have a very large impact on our general outlook. Think about it, if we spend our day rushing from job to job only focusing on getting them done, then it’s no wonder we’re worn out by the end of the day and in need of that reward…..cue chocolate bar and glass of vino!

So next time it’s your turn to do the washing up try to enjoy the process and actually be in the moment. Take pride in seeing your plates clean, perhaps they were a gift from someone you care about. Notice your breathing and posture whilst you’re doing this – it is here that you create that tension rushing to get the job done! And remind yourself of this Buddhist saying……. “If the simple things in life don’t put a smile on your face then you will never truly be happy”.

 

Step 3. Get you Yoga on……

 

We have been designed to move and yet we have created a sedentary lifestyle, albeit with the good intention to make our life easier. However instead this has made our bodies inflexible and our minds overworked. Once you understand the importance of movement and how great this makes the body and min feel you begin to understand why it’s such a good idea to get up off that ass..ana!

By practicing Yoga you’re bringing not only movement but also the deep breathing and mental focus into your lives. By being present in each of the postures you’re able to focus and enjoy the process of learning to let go. Understanding where you hold the physical tension also shines a light on your mental outlook (remember the rushing from task to task). The deep breathing enables you to relax and release this built up muscular tightness. During this process we mentally become more in tune with ourselves, connecting once again to our true nature and bringing about a sense of joy and freedom in this journey that life most certainly is.

Maria Kelly

Sunflower Dancer

Maria is a Yoga Instructor based in Cheshire specialising in Vinyasa Flow, Pregnancy, Post-natal and Baby Yoga (www.mariayoga.co.uk) . Along with her husband she also owns Tranquillite Retreats (www.tranquilliteretreats.co.uk), a yoga retreat set on the edge of the Dordogne in south west France. It is their mission to show that keeping life simple can lead to a happier more tranquil you.