Integrative psychiatrist Judith Pentz, MD, shares six ways Ayurveda can rejuvenate mind, body, and spirit.
We know self-care matters but maintaining the habits that support lifelong vitality can be difficult. Ayurveda offers a comprehensive, personalized approach to prevention. The power is in establishing daily rituals—putting down roots and laying the foundation for good health. Simple, effective changes to your morning routine can be a great way to take a step forward in your wellness journey. Adding these six easy Ayurvedic practices will make an immediate difference, and they add only about 15 to 30 minutes to your morning.
KEEP STILL AND BREATHE
Morning time is perfect for breath-based meditation, as the mind is less busy, having had the fewest intrusions from the day. Simply focusing on your breath for a few minutes is a good start, letting thoughts go by without attachment. Using a meditation app is totally fine. The practice itself is what matters, regardless of method.
Think about creating an intention for the day here, as doing so is powerful support for you mentally and emotionally.
SCRAPE YOUR TONGUE
Scraping your tongue first thing in the morning, removing toxins with a steel tongue scraper, is an effective way to improve dental hygiene. Ama, a Sanskrit word for the debris, bacteria, and dead cells produced during the night, is removed.
The condition of your tongue is a window into your health. The color of the coating on the tongue, for example, is an indicator of digestive challenges you may face. The location of the coating on the tongue—back, middle, or front—is also important. For example, a whitish coating near the back of the tongue indicates a need to cut down on dairy and sweets.
Oiling the body before showering, using warmed sesame oil in the winter and coconut oil in the summer, helps nourish both body and mind. Your skin is your largest sensory organ, so oiling your body has a calming effect. Touching yourself with love as you oil your body creates nurturing tenderness. Further, oiling can reduce skin conditions and dryness depending on the season.
To begin, warm the oil by running warm tap water over the bottle. Next, pour a small amount in your hand, then, starting at your feet and legs, use long strokes to apply the oil. Use the same movement for your hands and arms. Over your joints, abdomen, back, and chest, however, use a circular, clockwise movement. If any part of your body is tender, offer extra attention with the oil, along with loving thoughts.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Moving for 10 to 20 minutes daily in the morning helps to center you; even slow-paced walking can be enough to start the day. Exercise outdoors is preferred, as being in nature aids in releasing pent-up energies at all levels of our being. At home, doing yoga poses, such as Sun Salutation, or practicing Tai Chi and Qi Gong provides the same calming benefits.
EAT SEASONAL BREAKFASTS
When it comes to the food we eat, following the natural transitions of the seasons increases a sense of well-being and can even help ward off the typical illnesses of a particular season. In Ayurveda, food is medicine; our food choices can help balance our doshas and give our body what it needs each season. If the season is dry and cool, adding more oil to your diet with warming breakfast foods such as oatmeal with honey, cinnamon, or ghee would be a good choice to make. Ayurvedic cookbooks (Eat, Taste, Heal is an outstanding example) can support your journey towards health and well-being.
Combining Ayurveda’s six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent—in your morning meals can also help balance your dosha and body each season.
BREAKFAST BASED ON YOUR DOSHA
Knowing your dosha adds another level of awareness to self-care. For example, each of the six tastes has a different effect on the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Additionally, we each typically have a combination of two doshas, so someone with a Pitta-Kapha combination, for example, needs to be careful with spicy food (dry, heating) and limit honey (moist, cooling) in their meals. Those with the fiery nature of the Pitta dosha should consider reducing caffeine by drinking herbal tea rather than having a morning cup of coffee. If you don’t know your dosha, a Vata lifestyle management approach, which can calm the nervous system and improve sleep, works for most people. Seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner, however, to sort out your dosha is best. Also, many online quizzes are available that can give you limited information about your dosha.