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Dinacharya & The Art of Self Care Through Daily Routine

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Having a daily routine is one of the pillars of Ayurvedic medicine. 

For now I will just focus on the morning! Āyurveda has a long list of morning rituals that we can choose from to incorporate into our daily lives. When I first started out I wanted to include them all, which was fun but quickly proved to be unsustainable. Realistically some mornings you have more time to ease into the day and add in more practices. While other days you have no time and simply need to pick those practices that best suit you for the day. But no matter what, you are beginning your morning based on the interest of creating a system of self nourishment. You are bringing awareness to your actions, and by repeating this series of ritual you give it power. 

Dinacharya is a way of creating sacred spaces within moments of your day-to-day life. I like to view it as nothing more than implementing self-care practices to promote balance within the mind and body. It is establishing a routine for ourselves that regulates our circadian rhythm, aligns us with the seasons and brings deep meaning to little actions with profound impacts! Doing so strengthens our immune system, regulates digestion, promotes sounder sleep and improves nervous system functions. 

This may seem like a lot at first, and that is totally okay!

Wake Up You must rise in order to start your day! If you can get to sleep before 10pm, it’s recommended to wake before the sun rises. According to Ayurveda, there are specific times that are best to wake for each different body type, your Prakriti. These times may seem intimidating, I totally get that. But what is important to notice is what your doshic type is, and how rising times shift based on that. (maybe your goal is out of bed by 6:45am)!

- Vata types: 6am - Pitta types: 5:30am - Kapha types: 4:30am

Daily Intention Before you look at your phone or race out of bed, take a second to smile and scan your body. It sounds silly, but waking with a smile has made me feel lighter each day. Then take a few moments to set an intention for your day, a focus or theme you hope to carry forward with you once you get out from under the covers.

Tongue Scraping Using a stainless steel or copper tongue scraper, scrape the tongue 7-14 times to remove the built up plaque and bacteria from the tongue before brushing the teeth or oil pulling.

Oil Pulling This is a powerful practice of gargling/swishing oil around the mouth to remove bacteria from the teeth and improve gum health. You can use coconut oil or untoasted sesame oil. Coconut oil is an antifungal, and is usually recommended for this practice. It’s also lighter and easier to swish around in the mouth. Take 1-2 tablespoons, and without swallowing, circulate around the mouth for 5-20 minutes. The full practice is 20 minutes, but it takes a few weeks to build up to this. Brush your teeth well after spitting the oil out.

Wash the Face Splash the face with cold water to stimulate circulation to the skin. Dry your face gently with a clean towel. Spritz with rosewater afterwards for an extra lovely boost.

Sip Warm Water Heat up some water on your kettle and sip a glass of warm water. You can add a squee of fresh lemon or lime (depending on the season).

Elimination Elimination is the key to optimal health. A lot of people are dependent on their coffee for their morning poo, but that is a little sign that your elimination is not yet dialed in. So, before you hurry off to your coffee, make sure you create time and a quiet space to release everything from your previous day – or even week sometimes. The body loves routine, give it that in the mornings. Make time to poo! Self massage on the abdomen and deep slow breathing into the belly is a wonderful way to gently stimulate a bowel movement. A squatty potty is also a fantastic investment!

Neti Neti kriya, or jala neti, is the practice of rinsing purified water through the nasal passages to clean the sinus cavity and improve respiratory health. You can purchase a ceramic pot at most health food stores. If you have excess mucous, add a pinch of non-iodized salt to the slightly warm water.

Nasya After performing neti, and your nose is full dried from the solution, use your pinky finger or a cue tip to gently apply sesame oil to the inside of the nostrils. Special herbal oils, called nasya oil, can be used in place of the regular sesame oil.

Meditation & Mindful Movement Before you jump into an exercise practivce, take 5 minutes to be still. Sit with yourself and observe what is present today. Watch your breath. Be with what is. If you have a longer meditation practice, that is wonderful. If you prefer a moving meditation (yoga, tai chi, running), go for this after you have tuned into the breath and been still.

Garshana Garshana, or dry skin brushing, is the practice of brushing your skin with raw silk or a natural vegetable bristle brush to remove dead skin and stimulate lymph drainage in the body. Start at your feet and work your way towards the heart with a gentle pressure. Read more about the how-to’s of dry skin brushing here.

Abhyanga After scrubbing the dry body for 5-10 minutes, apply a very liberal amount of natural, food-based oils like sesame or ashwagandha bala oil is great for vata types, coconut for pitta types, or a lighter sunflower for kapha types. This daily ritual nourishes the skin, nervous system, joints and digestive system.

Bath/Shower Our daily showers or baths are an act of cleansing, we remove past impurities we no longer want to hold on to both in the body and in the mind. Your bath/shower time will feel so incredibly nourishing after your self massage. No need to soap off those oils! just cleanse your private areas and armpits.

Breakfast Take some hot herbal tea to stimulate the digestion like CCF or ginger and enjoy a breakfast of your choice. Eat your meals in alignment with the season, and remain mindful and intentional.

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