Morning Rituals aka Routine

Ahhh, dinacharya. One of my absolute favorite things in the world.

I laugh a little as I write that because a dinacharya is literally a daily routine. And as most of my loved ones will tell you, routine is something I’ve always had a pretty strong aversion to. I love change, I love following my intuition into the great unknown. But, I’ve come to view routine less as train tracks and more like the lines on the outside of the freeway lanes that keep you safe by making your car vibrate in case you’ve fallen asleep. I find ways to build intuition and choice into my routines, but fundamentally they are there to keep me healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Getting Going

My routine, as with most Ayurvedic daily routine suggestions, heavily favors the morning hours. The ideal time to wake up is during the Vata hours of 2am-6am. This is because Vata energy is light, quick, mobile and alert (like a snake). Interestingly, if you wake after 6am, during Kapha time (6am-10am), the energy is much heavier, cozier, languid (like swan slowly stroking through the water)…and it’s much harder to shrug off the covers and get moving. So, I set my alarm for 5:30am to allow myself time to snooze if needed, though generally I’m good to go as I look forward to having the cool morning stillness to myself.

The first thing I do is scrape my tongue. This is a kriya, a cleansing practice, designed to scrape off the ama, the Ayurvedic term for the toxin produced by undigested food. Then, I finish my oral care routine, get dressed in my practice clothes, and head to the kitchen.

Next, I make a warm cup of water with freshly-squeezed lemon and raw local honey (note it should be warm, not hot- preferably 118 degrees or less- so as to not kill the beneficial enzymes). I drink that quietly on the couch while I let my mind wake up to the day and prepare myself energetically for my practice. Lemon/honey is also a natural cleanse that gently scrapes your digestive tract so that you can achieve regular elimination. Get used to this- Ayurveda talks a lot about all body functions, including the end of the digestive line.

The Juice

I then head to my yoga and meditation room. I light candles, play singing bowls to clear any energetic blockages, and invoke various aspects of divinity for my spiritual practice. Next, I do a practice of yoga asana. Depending on how I am feeling, this can be a Vinyasa flow, a Restorative practice (2-3 effortless postures held for 10-20 minutes each), or a Yin practice (3-5 postures held for 5 minutes per side, designed to create intense sensation, myofascial release and tone the mind while letting the flesh melt away from the bone). If I’ve got a lot of time I’ll do all three- Yin first (as it’s meant to be done cold), Vinyasa (to heat the body), Restorative (to rest, restore and renew).

After yoga asana, I do pranayama. First, I do kapalabhati breathing (also called skull-shining breath), which is actually a kriya, a cleansing practice. Then, I do box breathing (equal counts inhale, retention, exhale, suspension). Then, I finish with anuloma ujjayi, which is alternate nostril breathing with an ujjayi breath on the exhale. Don’t worry if you have no idea what this means. I’d be happy to explain it to you but pranayama is an advanced technique and really something to add after you’ve got all the other pieces in place.

After pranayama, I sit for meditation. I light incense, perform abhishekam (a ritual of worship for my spiritual teacher), and select my malas for the day after doing a PIES scan. You can read more about that here. Then, I engage in pratyahara, which is considered sense withdrawal, by turning inward and practicing mantra japa (repeating a mantra 108 times or more). I close by sitting in stillness, letting the mantra echo in my heart, and watching what comes up for me.

After meditation, I do abhyanga, which is a self-massage with warm oil. I absolutely love this self-care practice as a way to honor and thank my body for all it does for me. Banyan Botanicals has a wonderful video about how to perform abhyanga here if you are interested.

After abhyanga, I write in my journal about my practice and then read from a spiritual growth text. I love the practice of reading just a few pages- really taking time to savor the words, thoughts, sensations and seeing how they land for me.

After that, I take a shower, get ready for my day, and head to have a nourishing breakfast and a cup of coffee. 😊

Schedule 

Here’s a breakdown of the rough schedule, but it’s always up for tweaking based on how I’m feeling.

5:30-5:45 Morning kriya/oral care

5:45-6:00 Lemon/honey water and reflection

6:00-6:15 Opening practice (candles/bowls/mat set up)

6:15-7:00 Yoga asana

7:00-7:10 Pranayama

7:10-7:55 Meditation

7:55-8:10 Abhyanga

8:10-8:30 Journaling/Reading

8:30-8:45 Shower/Dress

So, yes, I have a 3+ hour self-care routine built into my day. I am fortunate that my husband watches my son during that time so that I can begin my day from a place of serenity. I honestly believe it makes me a better partner, mother and entrepreneur.

I’d love to discuss your daily routines and where there might be opportunities to build in more time for self-care. You absolutely do not have to do an Ayurvedic dinacharya to refresh yourself…this is just what works for me. Every person and every journey are unique…that’s what makes life so beautifully interesting!

Love and light,

Mariah

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