How to Thrive in 2021 with Ayurveda
Oh, what a time to be alive! This great mystery of Life has ushered in some very harsh and swift lessons this past year, and with them, a greater and more urgent call to awaken as a collective. The message is clear, that none of us can stand for living apart from our Self any longer, as our mental and physical health, our connection to one another and to the planet suffers tremendously. 2020 was the year of our great and global triggering; a call to pay attention, to cease and desist, to make radical transformation, and to wake up.
Ayurveda offers the life-changing gift of Dinacharya–the daily routine–wherein 'dina' means daily and 'chary' means regimen or response. These beautiful practices are not intended to serve as extra 'self-care' or 'self-help' duties to add to your 'to-do' list, because, in the ego-mind, that list will never come to an end. They are not performances to be done for the 'improvement' of the personality and the body, although, the mind and the body will certainly benefit. They are rather, a calling and an opportunity to wash away what is not real, revealing the purity and the essence your Heart, shining through and as the body/mind vehicle. These practices can act as metaphorical Lekhenas–the term classifying herbs in Ayurveda that scrape Ama (waste, toxins) out of the body–literally scraping away the lie of separation. They give us the chance to show up as Presence in each action of our morning routine, and thus, in every moment of our days.
As you move through these actions, we invite you to ask yourself the question, "Who am I?" or "Who is doing this?" Do not simply settle at a surface-level answer, in fact, do not settle at any answer at all. Let this be an open exploration, even as the body moves and the mind, perhaps, produces thoughts.
This blog will be expanded regularly over the next 2 weeks with our favourite Dinacharya practices, with a new one offered each time. We recommend that, if you are new to Dinacharya, that you begin with the first recommendation and gradually add more as they are offered here, and as your schedule permits. When you have experienced all of these practices, you may wish to chose and continue with those that resonate most strongly with you.
If you wish to see our complete Dinacharya Guide, click here.
DAY 1: WAKE UP EARLY
Brahmamuhurta is the deeply auspicious period of the day between roughly 2-6am, that is ripe for receiving the spiritual insights and clarity offered by Brahman, or the Divine Source. This is the time when there are Sattvic (loving, pure) qualities in nature that bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses. Right after waking, look at your hands for a few moments, say a prayer and gently move them over your face and chest down to the waist to wake up the energy and cleanse the subtle body before beginning the day.
Rising early, and partaking in meditation and/or other spiritual practices will also realign your internal clock with the natural circadian rhythms. It only takes a look into nature to notice that the rest of the natural world arises before sunrise, and it is always in nature that we find the true remedies.
Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!”
DAY 2: PRAY
What do you do first thing in the morning, upon waking up? For many of us in the modern age, we instinctively reach for our phones, or we go straight into autoplay, diving into the same neural patterns that the brain plays on repeat every single day. Ayurveda asks us to break through these patterns of habit–as the ego-mind, being the creature of comfort that it is, favours habit over the unknown–to pierce through the veil of conditioning to the true purity of our Self.
The hands are considered a sacred motor organ of action, a vehicle for the action of giving and receiving. By bringing the hands together at the heart in Namaste, the two opposing poles of the left and right hand, the masculine and feminine, solar and lunar, Ida and Pingala, lose their seeming sense of separation and distinction, transforming this gesture into a portal for self conscious introspection.
We recommend chanting this prayer, Karadarsanam (“kara” in Sanskrit means “hand,” and “darsanam” means “looking, seeing, witnessing”), immediately upon arising:
Karagre vasate Lakshmi
Kara madhye Saraswati
Kara moole stithe Gauri
This prayer can be roughly translated as:
On the tips of your fingers, Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth + prosperity)
In the center of your palm, Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge, art + creativity)
At your wrist, Gauri (the Mother goddess, the incarnation of Shakti power)
Pray to your hand in the morning.
This fertile prayer is an acknowledgement and expression of devotion to the many forms of Shakti that express through your very own hands. Through this understanding, you can move through the actions of your day, knowing that your hands are the Divine incarnated, and that they can be a bestower of this love and this power, whatever or whomever they may touch. This prayer is also a call to the Divine to guide your hands and your actions throughout the day, so that they might be little servants of God, even while they perform the seemingly average tasks of life, like washing dishes, folding laundry, wiping away tears, cuddling loved-ones, filling out mundane paperwork, and taking out the trash.
You can begin by following along with this video if you would like to get a grasp on the Sanskrit pronunciation:
DAY 3: DRINK COPPER OR WARM WATER
While the 2010s ushered in the lemon-water craze to the maturing holistic databanks of the internet, we invite you to ring in 2021 with a new way of drinking your water first thing in the morning; a new way that dates back thousands of years.
Drinking copper water or warm water in the morning is vital to the promotion of health because this practice triggers the release of the Malas (waste-products) of urine and feces. Evacuating in the morning allows us to leave behind the physical, emotional, mental and energetic residues of yesterday, making space for the freshness of the new day
Warm or hot water produces a laxative effect, and the act of simply filling up the stomach in and of itself induces motility in the gastrointestinal tract. Tamra Jal, or copper water as it's known more commonly, is also an effective way to stimulate a bowel movement. This medicinal water is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, helping to strengthen the body's immune function and remove Ama (waste) from the system. Ama is the antithesis of Swastha (health); the very opposite of its translation–to be situated in the Self. Because when our bodies are congested with Ama, we are quite literally, living in the muck of the past.
Additionally, daily intake of warm or copper water hydrates the bowels–the seat of Vata dosha–treating or preventing dryness in this area, one of the most common prerequisites to chronic constipation.
We recommend drinking 25-30 oz of purified water after rising in the morning, before you intake anything else.
If drinking from our hand-hammered 100% Copper Water Bottle (holds 30 oz) or Copper Cup (holds 16 oz), let the water sit in the vessel overnight, then drink in the morning on an empty stomach. You may even wish to heat the copper-infused water before consuming, by pouring it into a pot and heating on med-low, especially in the colder months or if you have a Vata or Kapha Prakruti (constitution) or Vikruti (imbalance). Drink the copper water alone, without adding anything to it, especially avoiding adding lemon as this can result in nausea.
If drinking plain water, you may wish to spice things up with these optional additions to support the balancing of the Doshas:
For Vata Dosha: add a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt + a squirt of Lemon juice
For Pitta Dosha: add a pinch of Coriander + Himalayan Pink Salt and take the water at room temperature
For Kapha Dosha: add a few slices of Ginger or a pinch of Cayenne
You can also simplify by substituting these additions with the corresponding Ayurvedic Spice Mix.
Because the best part of waking up is a really good Poop! #itsthelittlethings
DAY 4: ADORE + ADORN YOURSELF
The phrase, the 'new normal' has become synonymous with 2020. And if anything climbed into the socially-accepted ranks of 'normalcy' over this last year, anxiety as a state of being would have to be it. Anxiety, worry and fear were the predominant cultural emotions of the last year and it seemed that no one was immune to this perceived lack of safety. However, we must be wary of how we normalize dysfunction through our words, and remember that living from a state of chronic fear is not normal; common, yes, but never normal. This is not meant to shame anyone or to label any emotion as 'bad,' but rather to remind us that Sthira-Sukham (steadiness and ease) are available to us at all times, and are in fact our very essence, and that our inner alignment can always be directed towards the stillness of the inner Self, even amidst uncertainty (because, what isn't uncertain in this life?). This inner rootedness is a precursor to, as well as a consequence of Svastha (health, equilibrium) and the only source of true security. And in, what Jiddu Krishnamurti called, 'a profoundly sick society' it is essential that we seek the source of our own wellness. As always, Ayurveda gives us the practical tools to come home to ourSelf.
In Ayurveda, we classify anxiety as a Vata-imbalance, a predominance of too much air and ether energy for the specific individual's constitution. And Ayurveda has gifted us the preventative and responsive solution of Abhyanga (Ab-hyan-ga).
Abhyanga is the practice of daily self-massage with medicated oils appropriate for one’s own constitution. It is venerated for its capacity to direct Sneha–loving, healing energy–towards oneself. It is especially balancing for Vata-types, as well as Pitta-types and harmonizes Kapha Dosha. Abhyanga is not meant to be just a morning moisturizing routine, but is considered a very powerful healing therapy.
Abhyanga not only feels like a warm, loving blanket, but it also…
~draws & squeezes out Ama (toxins)
~soothes & calms stress, anxiety, insomnia and other symptoms of elevated Vata Dosha
~protects & nourishes the skin (your largest organ!)
~slows the aging process
~relieves arthritic pain
~imparts firmness and tone to the internal organs
~strengthens the nervous system, the circulatory and lymphatics systems
~removes morning sluggishness
~calms hyperactivity at night
~provides a protective barrier from the harshness of the elements, as well as negative outside influences
➳ Start in a quiet & sacred space
➳ Lay a towel down (that you don’t mind getting all oiled-up!)
➳ Heat your Abhyanga Oil until it is nice and warm (but not so hot that it burns your skin!)
➳ Apply oil to the top of your head, massage 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
You can choose from our lovingly-formulated, Dosha-specific line of Abhyanga Oils, or if these are not accessible at this time for you, try:
FOR VATA DOSHA: untoasted sesame oil
FOR PITTA DOSHA: coconut oil
FOR KAPHA DOSHA: apricot or almond oil
This practice is deep and penetrative medicine, and we hope you will implement it daily or at least weekly if time is limited. Try 5 minutes for a quick massage, or 30-60 minutes for a deeper-reaching therapy.
As a sweet friend just shared with us, even taking 1 minute sips of what you need, is therapeutic in its simple self.
Please share this with anyone you know who is struggling with anxiety at this time.
DAY 5: LUBRICATE THE NOSE + BRAIN
You may have seen our latest feature on Forbes.com in which RASA Ayurveda was featured, alongside several other esteemed experts and brands in the North American Ayurvedic wellness industry. This article probed for the potential solutions that Ayurveda has to offer on the subject of respiratory wellness; its promotion and maintenance for strong and sustained immunity.
Our in-house Ayurvedic practitioner and founder, Tiffany, spoke about the power and effectiveness of both the practice of using a Copper Neti Pot and a herbal, medicated Nasya Oil for reducing built-up Ama (toxicity, congestion), related to Kapha-imbalance, in the nasal passageways and lungs, thereby allowing the respiratory system to function at its optimal level.
The practice of Nasya is so beloved by us for its effectiveness in cleansing and clearing congestion in the nostrils, nasal cavity and nasopharynx. Nasya oil is both warming, oily, and sharp. The sharp (tiksna) quality of Nasya oil will actually break up and liquefy Kapha—congested mucus—allowing it to be released by blowing the nose or coughing it up and out via the mouth. Not only that, but with debris cleared and the nasal passageways opened, Prana may flow unimpeded, giving us deeper access to our innate intuitive capacity, memory and Consciousness accessed via Ajna Chakra (the third-eye). Add in the neuro-stabilizing effects of herbal ingredients like Brahmi and Jatamamsi (Spikenard) that are found in our formula, and putting oil in your nose becomes a therapeutic act of self-care and preservation for your mental health.
Supporting your immunity and mental-health, all before 9am? Yes, Ayurveda can do this.
NASYA OIL INSTRUCTIONS
➳ In the morning on an empty stomach, lie down with your head tilted over the side of the bed
➳ Administer 2-3 drops of RASA’s Nasya Oil into each nostril
➳ Sniff in the oil and massage the outside of the nose, moving upwards towards the Third Eye Chakra
➳ Lie still for 2-3 min to let the oil absorb
COMMIT & OBSERVE
We encourage you to choose a small handful–or even just one–of whichever of these rituals call most to your heart in this new year, and to make their practice a Tapas–a commitment that you undertake with austerity, discipline and focused determination, but free of the personal self-whipping that our self-improvement-obsessed culture has grown so fond of. Instead bring an open curiosity and detached observance to the tendencies of mind and body that will resist the discomfort and purification that these practices enkindle.
Allow your Dinacharya practice to become the fire that burns through the Samskaras–the mental, emotional and physical habit patterns of your being–and smokes out the false self, so that you may live and breathe as the truth of who you are, from 2021 onwards.
If you found this content helpful or inspiring, please share to anyone who may benefit.