What do you do every single day? Are you fully aware of the things you do habitually – how much time you allocate to those things, and if they are serving your purpose?
I know that’s a whole lot to contemplate and digest, but the new year is a great time to consider your morning routine.
We all wake up and do a few “first things.” It may be a sit practice (meditation), you may grab for your phone, or your first order might be to sip a cup of coffee (or other hot beverage). But whatever it is, it’s so important that it’s conscious — that it’s intentional.
While self-help guru’s may tell you that there are some magical things you need to do each morning – it’s not true. Instead, what’s most vital is that your routine is intentional and not something you’ve just fallen into.
That intentionality will, in and of itself, help you move closer to your dreams, ambitions, and purpose.
Reseting Your Routine
If you have taken our free online program, The Routine Reset, you know that what we do each day sets the tone for our day, but also aligns us to our purpose.
This intentionality and ability to shape our future is also why routine is an integral part of the 5,000 year-old Indian Medicine System, Ayurveda. Within Ayurveda, it’s known as dinacharya and consists of daily rituals strung together to support our health and well-being, nourishment, and, elimination. The idea behind cultivating a dinacharya practice is to get back to our roots, to establish greater connection with self, and to set a more mindful tone for the day ahead – there’s even belief it has beautifying powers. The tradition also goes on to say that when we sustain a healthy dinacharya, we can then live our Dharma — our purpose.
One of the challenges with establishing a new routine is that you may not know where to start. This is where adopting a dinacharya practice can be helpful as it a prescriptive set of activities.
While some of these practices may already be a part of your daily routine, some may be new! As always, we urge you to check with your health team if you aren’t sure if a particular practice fits into your current wellness plan. Most importantly when adopting a new practice, it’s paramount that you be mindful and observe how it feels and if it is serving your purpose.
Some of the most common dinacharya practices include:
Tongue Scraping — This simple practice is one of the perfect ways to begin the day. As you gently scrape the tongue from back to front with a copper u-shaped device, you remove ama (toxins) and promote fresh breath. Ayurvedic practitioners also claim it sparks digestion, or agni.
Oil Pulling — In this practice, typically done post-tongue scraping, coconut oil is swished in the mouth for about 10 – 20 minutes. The idea behind this practice is to pull toxins from between the teeth and to strengthen the gums, teeth, and eliminate cavity-causing bacteria.
Brush Teeth — Thoroughly brushing, flossing, and massaging gums is generally the practice that follows oil pulling – and who doesn’t want to start their day off with a clean mouth!
Enjoy a Cup of Warm Water or Tea — Starting your day with a few cups of warm water (or room temperature if warm doesn’t float your boat) or tea initiates peristalsis (the digestion and elimination process) and really helps get things going – even without the magic of coffee.
Bowel Release — This is a hugely important part of my morning practice. In fact, my husband Charlie knows that if I miss this essential step, I get anxious and am often left in a bad mood. Regular, healthy bowels are an intimate mirror of our wellbeing. So, if you struggle with going to the bathroom upon waking, it may be time to talk to your health team so they can come up with a plan to allow you to go with ease and consistency.
Neti Pot — This is a practice I used all the time as a child — when I was sick, had allergies, or just on a Tuesday morning. While using a neti-pot when you are ill or congested is great, using it regularly can be very helpful. Even when you are feeling fine, you will release plenty from your nasal passages. Clearer nasal passages means better breathing. Better breathing means better health. Some people will follow this with nasal oiling as well, which coats the nasal passageways.
Abhyanga — If you haven’t read Aretha Moller- Roth’s article on Abhyanga yet, please do – she even has a downloadable tutorial for you! This practice might be one of my favorites as it’s a reminder to appreciate my body for what it is — while moisturizing and getting in a bit of a massage. If you’re curious about the science behind the practice, do check out the article here.
Mindful Movement, or Asana Practice — An active body is a healthy body. But we shouldn’t conflate checking the exercise box with mindful movement! A daily practice of mindful movement — whether it’s Yoga Asana, a walk, or something else – is so essential for your body and mind.
Breath Practice –— You know how we feel about breathing — specifically, nitric-0xide-inducing nasal breathing. Whether you are brand new to a breath practice or have a myriad of pranayama techniques under your belt, some small amount of attention on the breath each morning is so impactful.
Meditation — If you’ve read some of our other articles, you know that meditation, specifically focused attention meditation, has a tremendous impact on our ability to focus. It’s a great way to start your day off right.
Dry Brushing and Showering — Our skin is our largest organ, and a key driver of detoxification. When we sweat and release oily secretions or slough off dead skin cells, we are allowing for that detoxification. But when we accumulate dead cells over time, our skin thickens (and is a little less silky smooth) and creates a barrier to toxin release. And fun fact, our skin takes up around 16% of our body weight — so it’s so important we give it some love!
Adopting these some, or all of these practices into your daily routine can be a transformative way to make your morning not just more pleasurable, but also allow your body and mind to reap the benefits of mindful nourishment.