Waking Up The Ayurvedic Way
Rise and Shine With These 5 Rituals
“A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one’s constitution.” -Dr. Vasant Lad | Author, Ayurvedic Physician, Professor and Director of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico
In the Vedas, our heartbeat is described as being synchronized with our steps upon the earth, our breath, keeping time with the mind. By nature, our bodies are rhythmic entities whose systems fluctuate with the changing of the days, weeks, months and seasons.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, it’s believed that all disease is rooted in the interruption of our natural biorhythms. Innately, the body seeks to maintain health and harmony through living in close communion with the naturally ordered cycle of each passing day. Therefore, when we move in cadence with the rising and setting of the sun, we are more likely to thrive in mind, body and spirit.
One way to get in sync with nature’s daily cycle is to begin your day with a grounding routine. The following 5 morning rituals are rooted in the Ayurvedic tradition and are designed to support your health, happiness and longevity.
RITUAL #1 – RISE WITH THE SUN
Ayurvedic guidelines suggest that we rise by 6:30 a.m. to take advantage of the sattvic ( or nourishing) qualities present at this time of day. In the early morning hours, the natural world brings a feeling of freshness to the senses, ease to the body, peace to the mind and calmness to the heart. It’s a magical time of day in which all of nature is waking up and thus, invites us to wake up too.
If you’re a night owl by nature, it’s not recommended to force any drastic changes. Doing so can throw off your internal clock. If you’re not wired to wake early, simply rise after 8 hours of sleep (more than that can cause feelings of mental and physical lethargy) and proceed with rituals 2 – 5.
RITUAL #2 – GIVE GRATITUDE
None of us are guaranteed more time on this planet. To wake to a new day is a profound gift worthy of our reverence. Offering a gesture of appreciation that’s equal to this blessing is a lovely way to set the tone for the day ahead. Each morning, before getting out of bed, fold the hands over your heart center and either silently or aloud, give thanks. Follow by placing your feet on the earth while sitting on the edge of your bed. Placing the left hand to your heart center, bend down enough so that your right fingertips touch the ground. Silently or aloud, send love and gratitude to Mother earth. End this ritual by touching the right fingertips to your third eye point. From there, exit your bed. For a healthy dose of gratitude inspiration, check out this amazing short film, it’s one of my all time favorites. Spoiler alert – you’ll want to keep the kleenex handy.
RITUAL #3 – LIGHT A CANDLE
Allowing for a gradual shift from dark to light, gives the senses time to acclimate in a way that’s beneficial to the health of your nervous system. If rising before the sun, it’s likely that your surroundings will be somewhat dark. Illuminating the early morning hours with candlelight is a ritual that brings a truly sacred feel to the start of the day. Alternatively, Himalayan pink salt lamps, twinkle lights and lighting that can be dimmed work well too. The primary goal here is to maintain low or very soft light until your environment is illumined by the power of the sun. Bright light is not recommended until body and mind have had plenty of time to calibrate.
RITUAL #4 – REHYDRATE
Consuming tea, coffee, other beverages or food of any kind before re-hydrating upon waking can drain energy from the kidneys, put stress on the adrenals, cause constipation and aid in the formation of not-so-healthy habits. Drinking 8 – 16 ounces of room temperature water with a squeeze of lemon first thing in the a.m. will help to:
- Balance pH
- Hydrate the body
- Cleanse the GI tract
- Stimulate peristalsis
- Flush out the kidneys
Make sure the water is not cold. Cold water will shock the system, forcing the body to use precious energy to warm the cold water in an attempt to match its much warmer internal temperature.
#5 – MEDITATE
Meditation is the process of training your mind to focus and redirect thoughts while developing beneficial habits and feelings, such as positive mood and mindset, self-discipline and a sense of ease, inner peace and calm. It’s also been scientifically proven to reduce stress, decrease susceptibility to disease and boost overall health and happiness.
Beginning your day with 10 – 20 minutes of meditation helps to clear and open the mind, moving you into a daily flow that’s peaceful and productive. In order to reap the life changing rewards that meditation offers, it’s important to be consistent so that your mindfulness muscle can be properly strengthened.
Science shows that it takes 40 days to successfully change a habit or to solidify a new practice, so if you’re just beginning, start by setting realistic goals. Begin with 5 minutes of meditation per morning for the first 10 days. On days 11 -20, increase it to 10 minutes each morning. Follow with fifteen minutes on days 21 – 30, and graduate to 20 minutes on days 31 -40. From there, you can lengthen your sessions if time and schedule permits.
The most important thing is to find a quiet place to sit comfortably so that your body is relaxed and your practice won’t be disrupted. Before you begin, set your timer and consider creating sacred space by lighting a candle and/or burning your favorite incense.
Once seated, relax the body and place your hands upon the legs with palms facing up. Close your eyes and begin to breathe in and out through the nose – softly, slowly and steadily. Follow each inhale and exhale. Observe the thoughts that enter your mind without judgement. If you become distracted, simply bring your focus back to the breath. You can also sit with this mantra music to aid in maintaining focus while absorbing the peaceful vibes.
When your timer goes off, very slowly begin to come out of it by tilting chin toward chest and keeping your gaze settled on the earth as the eyes start to open. Once your vision has adjusted, bring head back to center, fold the hands at the heart, inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. To seal the practice, take a moment to give gratitude.
I’d love to know if you find these rituals helpful! Feel free to leave your feedback and/or questions below in comments.