Every new year, countless resolutions are made. Their inspiration typically derives from self-shame and their implementation, from self-punishment. So it comes as no surprise that the life expectancy of the average new year’s resolution is only 6 weeks before the revolt and uprising of habit occurs, re-establishing its reign over our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. That’s the thing about tendencies. They don’t always respond well to force. This is why, in Ayurveda, we offer a different kind of resolution, called Dinacharya.
Dinacaryā (di-na-char-yaa) is the Ayurvedic daily regimen, a routine of ablutions performed daily, in the morning, intended to cleanse and purify the body. A Dinacharya practice offers the benefits of prevention and healing at all levels of the being, even at the subtler levels, influencing our energetic vibration, emotions and behaviour. The energetic channels (Nadis) are cleared and Prana (life-force energy) can freely move through the body and enliven every cell. Commitment arises as a natural by-product of approaching one’s Dinacharya as ritual devotion. When we perform actions from a place of loving attention and praise, an adoration for the practice, for the body, and for God is the result. It gradually becomes difficult to go even one day without the grounding, nourishment and purification of this personal ritual.
If forming new habits feels challenging, start with just one practice. Perform it daily for 2-3 weeks and then add on another.
1. Scrape Your Tongue
This practice is such an easy and satisfying one. Tomorrow morning, after arising and before anything else, go to the bathroom and peer at your tongue. You’ll notice a white or yellow filmy coating on the back of your tongue. With the side-edge of a spoon, gently scrape your tongue a few times, from back to front, until the film has been completely removed. This film is toxic waste matter, or āma, as it is known in Ayurveda. If left unattended, this decaying waste can cause bad breath, tooth-decay and issues with digestive function.
You can purchase a copper tongue scraper from our online apothecary, as copper offers a warming quality to the practice, as well as anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties.
2.Balance Through Breath
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate-Nostril Breath) is a powerful Pranayama technique that fosters balance between the Yin and Yang, the lunar and solar aspects of our being, harmonizing the body with the natural rhythms of the Universe and integrating feminine and masculine energies. If you’ve heard speak of ‘toxic’ masculinity and femininity these days, this practice is a transformational therapy that allows one to shift from the inside-out, bringing change to mood, behaviour, and energetic resonance by directing the flow of breath from the opposing left and right channels, into the central pathway–the Shushumna Nadi–healing inner discord and settling into natural harmony. The nervous system can thus find its regulation, priming the body and mind for meditation.
Sit in a comfortable seated pose. With your right hand, curl your index and middle fingers down towards the palm while extending the remaining fingers. Cover your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left nostril for 4 seconds. Pause and hold the breath in for 16 seconds. Close the left nostril with your pinky and ringer fingers and open the right nostril, exhaling for 8 seconds. Repeat on the other side by inhaling through the right nostril for 4 seconds again, and continue as before.
Always inhale through the nostril from which the exhale just came. The retention of breath (Kumbhaka) should be 4x the length of the inhalation, while the exhalation should last 2x the length of the inhalation. Eventually, you can work your way up to a ratio of 8:32:16. Do this practice for 15 minutes daily.
3. Oil Up!
If you know me, you’ll know that I practically bathe in oil every day. Someone close to me has said that you could fry an egg on my body. I can’t contest that statement, simply because I love the benefits of oil-massage, known as Abhyanga in Ayurveda. If you can recall a memory of your younger self, some the most relaxing moments were likely when you lay in the lap of your mother or grandmother as she gave you a loving massage of tender strokes and caresses, kneading deep into your tissues the feeling of safety, security and love. Mother-Nature herself rubs and softens her very own children. Sanding down the rough edges of majestic rock faces with the lapping of oceanic waves, nurturing leaves towards the ground in the palm of a soft breeze, she offers Abhyanga to all. As adults in this touch-deprived culture, we rarely receive the benefit of loving physical contact, save for sexual encounters. Abhyanga is the chance to give this gift to your own self. You will reap the benefits of softer and healthier skin, invigorated tissues and organs, detoxification, a pacified nervous system, and a sense of peace and calm that will stabilize your days and lull you to sleep in the night.
Warm a bottle of our Abhyanga Oil (available for all Doshas with a Tridoshic option for those who are unsure or to give as a gift) in a bowl of hot water. If you have a Pitta imbalance however, use the oil cold or at room-temperature. Apply the warmed oil to the top of your head, massaging the scalp with love & intention. Massage the face, ears and down the neck. Stroke from the jawline down to the heart. Move to the hands and travel upwards towards the armpits with circular strokes around the joints. Massage in circular motion around the breasts, abdomen, then buttocks with long strokes up the low back. Move to the feet, massage with long, firm strokes up the legs towards the groin. Let the oil absorb for at least 30 min before showering. The heat of the shower will penetrate the healing properties of the Abhyanga Oil even deeper into the skin & tissues.
4. Love Your Lady Parts
Ladies this one is for you! How many of us have absorbed the conditioning of our culture to banish certain parts of our own bodies? Reawaken to the harmonized feminine by reclaiming your Yoni, your vagina. Daily Yoni massage can do so much for a woman’s healing, for her self-assurance and grounding into her own form, for moving energy where it became stagnant and allowing Prana to flow, for shifting out of low libido, numbness, dryness, painful sex and menstruation, issues in menopause and for improving orgasms. The Yoni stores the memory of all sexual encounters, both the good and the bad. She shuts down when traumatic residues are stored in her tissues. When this occurs, most women regrettably give up on this integral part of self. Disconnection thus grows between herself and her feminine and sexual aspect, as well as between her and any future partners. Over time, illness can take root.
Your Yoni is aching for the love, attention and healing that she was deprived, and you can give her this, no partner needed. In a warm and soothing environment, with candles lit and lights dimmed, place our Sacred Yoni Elixir into a bath of hot water. When the oil is warm (but not hot!), place a few drops in your hand and begin to explore, adore, open, activate, honour and truly love everything that you discover there. This area of your body is the most creative incubator in existence, as she literally gives birth to new life, and she will not respond well to force, agendas and expectations. Consider this a time of artistic expression. Be the lover you have always needed. And of course, have fun, purely for its own sake. ;).
5. Find the Pauses
Schedule in to your day a few moments of pause–of stillness and completely neutral witnessing–where you may fall backwards from the turmoil of the mind, into the silence and vastness of your own Self. You might even want to set anywhere from three to ten alarms on your phone throughout the day, reminding you to take these pauses of inner-orienting that can last from one to ten minutes.
As Sri Papaji said, ‘Stop swimming and you will sink into the depths of love.”
If this resonated with you, please share and let us know how these practices bring benefit and healing in 2019.