This week is all about breath and water. These two simple practices are the foundation for health.
This week we create a morning and evening practice.
Hot water (Not too hot. We don’t want to burn the sensitive tissues of the mouth or throat). Drink 1/2-1 cup of heated water first thing in the morning. Water is one of the most receptive and malleable medicines. Water will take on the qualities of what surrounds it. You may wish to infuse your water with a morning blessing or sweet word, or even chant or sing to your water before drinking. The heated water will flush the digestive system, taking with it any ama. This practice alone, done each day, is very beneficial to health.
Then add a little ginger, lemon, honey or all 3 to your water and enjoy the remainder of your morning drink before breakfast. Kapha will enjoy the heat of ginger, vata will enjoy all 3 and pitta will enjoy a bit of honey. This will stoke digestive fire (agni) before you eat.
Rub the soles of your feet with oil. You can use coconut (good for pitta), sweet almond or sesame (good for vata or kapha) or even olive oil. You can infuse your oil with spices like clove or ginger, herbs such as lemon balm or basil, or add essential oils like lavender, sandalwood or rose geranium. Start with the left foot and massage ball of foot, under toes, instep and anywhere that feels good. Avoid the heels if you are concerned about oil on your sheets, or use a small amount of the oil.
Our feet are a goldmine of reflexology points and rubbing them with oil each night helps to stimulate these points and assist in the detox process. Do this foot massage as you sit on the edge of your bed, before sleep.
Perform 10-20 rounds of alternate nostril breathing before sleep.
Resting pointer and middle finger against the forehead, block right nostril with the thumb. Inhale through left nostril, block left nostril with fourth finger, release thumb and exhale through right nostril. Inhale right nostril, close with thumb, open left nostril and exhale. Inhale left, switch fingers, exhale right. Inhale right, switch fingers, exhale left.
Continue slowing and deepening the breath as you relax the body. Spine is straight, chin tucked slightly, in a comfortable seated position. Close the eyes. Slow and deepen the breath as you continue for 10-20 cycles of alternate nostril breathing. Allow the body to relax as the breath slows and the mind along with it. You may wish to add the mantra So Hum (I am that), silently saying SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO on the inhale and HUMMMMMM on the exhale to keep the mind focused and promote clarity and connection.
The evening practice should take only 5-7 minutes, however, research shows working up to 10 minutes of alternate nostril breathing provides measurable benefits. 11 minutes is the yogic practice. However long you have to commit to this practice, alternate nostril breathing is one of the most beneficial practices you can add to your daily routine. This practice balances vata, queen of the doshas, helping guide all doshas into balance and ease the mind.
More on water
“Before Ayurveda, there was water for medicine.” ~Chumba Lama, Tibetan Breathing & Movement Yoga
Indeed, fresh water is key to vital health. Ayurveda has guidelines that promote the most benefits from your water intake:
Drink only sitting down, never while standing (the same goes for eating).
Each swallow of water should have been held in the mouth first (in other words, no guzzling or chugging water)
Sip water in between meals. Take only small amounts with foods (preferably warm water or herbal tea) in order to help with digestion but not dampen agni (the digestive fire).
Drink room temperature or warmer water. Do not consume cold water or add ice to your drinks (frozen and overly cold food and liquids cause blockages in the channels – think ‘brain freeze’ when you enjoy a frozen drink or ice cream).
Keep your smoothies room temperature and a reasonable size. Enjoy small smoothies and elixirs between meals as nutrient-dense snacks.
If you have predominantly pitta in your constitution or are experiencing over-heating, anger, frustration, hot flashes and other hot, sharp qualities, then green smoothies are ok, particularly after exercise or exertion. Kapha and vata should limit their green smoothies and opt instead for steamed/roast veggies or wilted greens to get their green energy. Warm elixirs are a better choice for beverage or sip the detox infusion below.
For more on Ayurveda and green smoothies, check out How To Give Green Smoothies The Ayurvedic Green Light.
A detoxifying Ayurvedic infusion to sip through the day:
Boil the kettle
Steep 20-30 minutes in 1 cup hot water:
1tbsp blend of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds
Pour into a 1 litre bottle and top with fresh water. Sip between meals, stopping by dinner.
Cumin is used to aid digestion, improve hypoglycemia, and is also a source of magnesium – which aids calcium absorption. Coriander is used to ease stomach upset, intestinal gas, and joint pain, as well as lower blood sugar levels and improve skin issues. It is also diuretic. Fennel is used for irritable bowl, heartburn, bloating, upper respiratory issues, cough and backache.
This week drink, breathe and be merry!
This page and program are meant to inform, not diagnose or treat specific health issues. Please consult your doctor before beginning a nutrition/exercise program.