Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ayurvedic Daily Routine

Alrighty. Let’s talk about the Ayurvedic daily routine! We know doshas rule our bodies, but they also rule nature and the universe in the way of time and space. Remember, macrocosm vs. microcosm. We are tiny bits of this big nature that surrounds us, so when we go in accordance with nature, we will function at our best. This daily routine will help guide you as to which energies (doshas) govern which times of day. Doshas rule certain times of day, seasons, and stages of life, so once we know what energies are strongest at specific times, we can go with the flow of those energies to achieve overall balance.

See the chart above. Study it for a sec. Ok, now I’ll go into detail about the Ayurvedic daily routine.

Let’s start at 2 a.m. – 6 a.m. Vata Time: The body prepares itself to wake and start moving. Dreams start happening, there is movement in the bowels preparing for elimination, and the mind is closest to the higher self. It is best to wake 1 hour to 1/2 hour before sunrise so that you rise with the vata energy of movement. You will be surprised how energized you feel the rest of the day. Once sunrise hits, kapha period starts and you could have a groggy start to your day. So wake up, go to the bathroom (vata is responsible for elimination), drink water, and do your yoga and/or meditation. You could also exercise at this time of day because you will get moving easily.

6 a.m. – 10 a.m. Kapha Time: The energy of kapha is slow and steady. Eat a light breakfast around 7 or 7:30, just enough to tide you over til lunch. Your agni is weak from the night’s rest so you have to rekindle it. Kapha time is a great time to get the mundane tasks out of the way, cause kapha follows. Think about it, when you get to work, you’re not really creative or ready for any heavy strategy are you? Wouldn’t it be nice to just follow a simple task list, right when you get in, to get a bunch of thing done? That’s kapha.

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Pitta Time: Get ready to strategize, make new goals, organize, and analyze! This is pitta time and thoughts, perceptions, discriminations, and intellect are at their peak. Have strategic meetings now, when people are their sharpest and ready for a challenge. Noon is also when agni is strongest (because agni and pitta relate to the sun and sun is strongest around noon) so eat lunch at noon and make it your biggest meal.

2 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Vata Time: At about 2 or 3, you are getting a little antsy…you might need a snack or you might feel a little bit chatty. Right? That’s vata wanting to move. You’re probably not really hungry, but you’re getting bored and your mind wants to wander. If you have afternoon meetings you might have a wandering mind and end up with doodles on your notes. This is a great time to create and innovate!! Creative work should be done at this time of day. And at the end of the work day, make a task list for the next morning. This will help your vata stay organized and your kapha will love to have a list when it gets in in the morning.

6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Kapha Time: Relax! Have a light dinner. It’s kapha time so agni is not as strong. It’s time for family, relaxation, nurturing, and winding down. Get to bed by 10 so that you start sleeping in the slowness of kapha.

10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. Pitta Time: If you’ve stayed up past 10 (yea, most of us do), do you feel like you get a “second wind” and your brain starts going and you start working out the days problems in your head? That’s pitta kicking back in. Pitta will digest all thoughts, perceptions, foods, and everything given to your mind and body from the entire day. Pitta is working hard to move all that stuff through the entire digestion process. If you stay awake past 10, you might have a hard time falling asleep because your body and mind is a processing machine!

2:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. And back to Vata: Where it eliminates all the stuff that pitta digested…and gets ready to start a new day fresh with new choices, new challenges and a nice task list waiting on their desk.

So Hum

So Hum is a mantra and meditation which focuses on just being. It helps us find us a nice space within ourselves where we can ditch our worries for a bit. When we are anxious, depressed, lonely, or stressed, it consumes us and makes us unable to focus. Practicing So Hum brings about the realization that all you need is yourself. Yeah, did you forget that you are all you need? Fantastic.

So means, “I am” and Hum means “that” or “the divine.”

I am That. I am the Divine.

(How cool is that? Does it make you want to cry? It does me.)

First, sit in a comfy position, chakras aligned. So either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair, back straight, chest open, both feet on the ground. As you inhale through the nose (mouths closed) think “soooooo.” and as you exhale think “huuummmm. As usual we are using our belly breath. On the inhale our bellies balloon out, and on the exhale our belly buttons go in toward the spine.

You can practice So Hum for as long as you want. I recommend at least 5 minutes. You can set a timer if you choose so you can fully release yourself.

In the practice of So Hum, you can visualize the inhalation of life (does it have a color? or a shape?) filling up your body. Start with the base of your spine and visualize the life going upward to the top of your head. Maybe the color gets into all the crevices you don’t want anyone to see…or admit are there. I visualize the color like a gentle electric toothbrush, getting all in those “hard to reach” areas. It’s our spirit and it’s our job to keep it clean.

Speaking of clean, on the exhale visualize all the junk (old feelings, worries, memories) flowing outward. This way, we can make room for the prana, the beautiful color of life that we are inhaling. Remember visualize where the clogs, cobwebbs, even black tar (I had stuff that looked like coffee grounds) and clean it out with new life. You will feel like you just had a spiritual massage.

So Hum is great for
Stress reduction, relaxation, calm, inner peace
Realization that you are a Divine being
Self healing
Moving you to a higher energetic level (it’s a funk buster)
Mental focus and concentration
Bonus: It relieves constipation!

Funk Busters

Dude, are you feeling funky and depressed? You’re not alone, it gets to the best of us. You need some funk busters! There are a few things you can do. You can stay in it until it works itself out or you can move yourself through it. Sometimes some self reflection on, “What is the funk all about?” helps and we get answers. In other cases maybe something external is affecting us, like a crabby boss, or an off comment we were given, or sucky weather…in that case, use your insides to bring you to a higher level.

Try some of the tips below. Tips #1 and #6 are a must*. If they work, let me know your story! If they don’t work, shoot me an email and I’ll see if I can help.

1. Write down 10 things you are grateful for
2. Get out in nature. Even if you are at work, go for a walk. Look at the sky & clouds, touch the grass or snow.
3. Do the pranayama “So Hum
4. Write down 10 more things you are grateful for
5. Give your temples, hands and feet a massage
6. Do something nice for someone else (sure-fire way to lift you up)
7. Aromatherapy. Inhale a lovely natural scent like, a flower, fresh cut grass, cinnamon tea, or lavender oil.
8. Read a cozy energy shifting book like, “If the Buddha Got Stuck” by Charlotte Kasl or “Creative Visualization” by Caroline Myss
9. Go to a yoga class
10. Listen to good music – not downer music – peaceful or uplifting music

*Gratitude is KEY to helping lift you up. When you realize that what you already have is pretty great, it will bring you back to center. It will keep all issues from the past or the “what ifs” of the future at bay. The past and future don’t matter anyway because one is gone and one hasn’t happened yet, so we don’t need to be anywhere but present. I know it’s not easy sometimes, just practice. Eventually it will get easier to find that centered place.

Namaste

I’m sure you’ve seen the word “namaste” in magazines or perhaps your yoga teacher said this in the beginning and end of class. Do you know what it means? It’s pretty cool. It means, “The divine light in me sees and honors the divine light in you.”

So it’s like two souls giving each other a little salute or high five.

So when someone says it to you, put your hands at heart center, say it back, and give a little bow. nah-mas-tay. Don’t mumble. Say it back and mean it. You will be giving them a little blessing and sending out the same powerful positive energy as they are giving you.

“Don’t Cry”

I was sitting at work and overheard a man on the phone to his kid…dad said, “Don’t cry.”

And I would say, “um, why not?” Who says we can’t cry if we feel like cryin! We often try to stop someone from crying, don’t we? Our best intention is to make them feel better, so we want to stop their tears. But what we might not understand is that their emotion needs to come out. If it doesn’t come out, the junk will get stuck inside. And it does get stuck! Think about how many people hold their stress, their tears, grief, fear, even joy and laughter sometimes. Day after day, over and over, we hold our true selves back. Over time this manifests in the body then there can be serious health problems like maybe a heart attack, high blood pressure, or high cholestorol.

Ayurveda says, “Do not resist your urges.” How many times have you held in a sneeze? How many times did you have to pee but you “held it” til the meeting was over? How many times did someone hurt you, but you didn’t say anything because you didn’t want to cause a conflict. And then over time you ended up exploding at them over something small because these old emotions were festering?

Our urges (sneezing, crying, laughing, elimination, speaking our mind) are signals from our body that something needs to be released. If we don’t listen to those subtle signals, our bodies will speak louder, if we still don’t listen, they will form physical problems within the body. And then we are forced to listen.

If we nip the urges in the bud right away, there is no build up and there is no disease. So let’s honor these signals. Our bodies talk to us all the time. So if we feel it, then we should be it.

Nadi Shodhanam | Alternate Nostril Breathing

Nadi Shodhanam or alternate nostril breathing is a pranayam, I like to call “instant calm.” If you’re stressed, nervous, or need some clarity of mind, nadi shodhanam will bring you back to center and calm the entire nervous system. Give it a try.

Sit in a comfy position, chest open, shoulders down, chakras aligned (pretend there is a string pulling you up, from your butt, through your spine and coming out the top of your head).

Take your right hand and cover right nostril with left thumb.
Exhale air all the way out, concave the belly.
Inhale, puff out the belly.
Switch and put ring finger over left nostril.
Exhale.
Always switch before on the exhale.
Repeat 10x on each side.

What it’s good for:
Relieving stress, anxiety, tension, anger, fear
Clearing the channels
Releasing toxins
Calming a busy mind
Clarity of mind
All doshas, but specifically vata and pitta

Why does this work? Because there are two srotas (channels) that go through the nose and the nose is the quickest passage to the brain. One srota is feminine and cool (left) and the other is masculine and heating (right). Switching between the two of these is very nourishing for the mind and will bring you back to balance. Nadi Shodhanam is pure intake of prana (life!) – I promise you will feel like you just had a massage after you’ve practiced it.

Digesting Perceptions

Think about someone you know who has a great attitude. And I mean great. They are always helpful, positive, encouraging, uplifting, hardworking, full of love and laughter. You probably can’t help but admire them because how no matter what happens, they are always a joy to be with. And you might say, “I wish I could be more like that.” Well, you can. You just have to change your perceptions.

This person with a great attitude has a healthy view of the outside world. The only thing that is different about them is their PERCEPTION. They have the same woes as everyone else, but they choose to digest the woes differently. One of my doctor heros in Ayurveda said, “Health is how we digest our perceptions of the outside world.” Whoa. Brilliance.

See, the things we make up in our mind can lead us to ill health. We create scenarios and stories that just aren’t true sometimes! The mind rules the body, so if we let our mind race ahead, imagine stressful situations, play the “what if” game, worry about worst possible scenarios…we will make ourselves sick! Think about how sick your stomach feels if you worry about something horrible happening to a loved one. Ok, that feeling is not fake. That is the power of your mind, affecting your body – the mental turns into the physical very quickly.

The great news is that YOU are in charge of you. YOU are in charge of your mind. Every day you have the option to make good choices. Our perceptions can turn a situation from bad to good, or at least from bad to neutral so why not use them to your advantage.

Next time you’re in a funk use your mind to turn it around. Because it’s probably not really that funky, you just think it is :)