Ayurvedic morning rituals: simple practices for renewal

Ayurvedic inspirations for spring

Spring is the perfect time for renewal. It’s also, according to Ayurvedic medicine, one of the most changeable seasons. Vata dosha (which is comprised of the air and space elements) is the predominate dosha in spring. The different doshas — Vata, Pitta and Kapha — are the mix of the five elements not only in the body, but in the natural world. The season, time of day, even your age and stage of life has a dosha. The key word for Vata is movement, which is also the perfect word to describe spring. One minute it’s warm and balmy, and the next it’s windy, cold and rainy. Do we wear a coat, bring an umbrella or just risk it? When the weather is changeable our body, mind and emotions are affected too. We can catch a cold, feel ungrounded, lose focus and suffer from anxiety or insomnia.

That’s where yoga comes in. Yoga is not just a physical postural practice — it includes the Sat Kriyas (physical cleansing techniques) and Ayurvedic lifestyle practices to open the channels in the body (Srotas) and clear out stuck and stagnant energy. A yogi style spring clean!

So what are the best and simplest spring cleaning, ayurvedic rituals you can do every morning to kickstart your day?

Wake before dawn

Make a habit of rising just before 6am. This is the time when prana (life force) is closest to the earth and the most easily absorbed into the system. Before getting out of bed, check to see which nostril is dominant. Then step onto the floor with the opposite foot. This will immediately harmonise the flow between the right and left side of the body and facilitate balance throughout the day.

Wash your face

Rinse your face with cool water seven times while holding fresh water in your mouth. This is a simple yogic practice which wakes you up and removes excess heat from the system. This is especially relevant if you’ve eaten a heavy meal, have a fiery constitution, or didn’t sleep deeply due to excess mental activity.

Practice Kapalabhati

Kapalabhati means ‘shining skull’. It’s also a breath practice to eliminate the excess Kapha (the earth and water elements) that has accumulated during winter.

To practice Kapalabhati:

– Take an inhalation and exhale fully.

– At the end of your next inhalation, begin by pumping the abdominal muscles (drawing them in strongly and quickly) to force the breath out of the lungs.

– Once you release the abdominal muscles briefly in between contractions, the inhalation will naturally occur, without any action on your part.

– Continue with this action of pumping the abdominal muscles for 36 rounds.

Drink a warm hot lemon, ginger and honey tea

Sipping a hot drink with a squeeze of lemon, a small slice of ginger and a dollop of honey when you first wake nourishes all the tissues in the body and helps with elimination and detoxification. Ayurveda recommends that instead of drinking coffee or tea, you sip hot water throughout the day. Try carrying a flask with you so you can feel warm and nurtured wherever you are.

About the author:

Rachel Zinman has been practicing yoga since 1983, teaching since 1992 and teaching teachers since 2000. She’s studied with some of the most influential teachers in the West including Alan Finger and Mark Whitwell, as well as immersing herself in the study of Vedanta. She writes for many online and in print magazines. www.rachelzinmanyoga.com and www.yogfordiabetesblog.com

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