DAILY RITUALS FOR HEALTH/ dinacharya
Dinacharya deals with daily activities associated with personal hygiene and supporting the proper elimination of waste products, strengthening digestive functions and improving the overall health of the body, mental faculties and sense organs.
These rituals are generally implemented shortly after rising in the morning to prepare the body for the day and include activities such as the use of collyrium, smoking, nasal drops, tongue scraping, gargling, oil pulling, chewing, external oleation, hair and nail maintenance, use of foot wear, umbrella, walking stick, bathing, perfumes, ornaments, cleansing and selecting suitable work conducive of fulfilling the four goals of life - Purshartha (refer to previous blog).
These activities also aid in stress management by calming the mind and allowing the body and sense organs some time to rejuvenate.
Practicing theses routines every morning is a great way to start the day and gives you a feeling of stability and steadiness as well as optimizing your health and longevity.
The following practices can be used safely on a daily basis. Preferably they are adopted in the same order as presented upon rising for best results.
TONGUE SCRAPING / jivalekhaniya
Tongue scraping is beneficial for removing impurities from the tongue that may accumulate during the night as well as stimulating the digestive system and improving circulation and taste perception. If it doesn’t produce healthy tissue building elements or waste products it is of no value to the body and should be removed efficiently.
METHOD Hold the tongue scraper at either end; drag the centre along the tongue from base or back of the tongue to the tip. Wash the accumulated residue off under warm running water and repeat several times. Be careful not to apply too much pressure on the tongue, just gentle strokes.
FRESHLY GRATED GINGER TEA/ shunti jala
Ginger is also known as “Vishwabeeshaja meaning the universal medicine” as it has a broad range of health promoting benefits. Fresh ginger taken in the form of tea first thing in the morning upon rising aids in awakening the digestive system and moving undigested and stagnant residue from the body’s resting phase and lowered metabolic rate. When combined with lemon it becomes a potent but gentle daily cleanser. Ginger is also well known for its anti-inflammatory action that may aid in joint care and improve circulation.
Contra-indications – During pregnancy, heartburn and ulcers.
METHOD Combine 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger with a cup of boiled water, add 8 drops of lime in hotter months or lemon in colder months, and infuse for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Vata dominance Ginger, lemon, honey tea
- Pitta dominance Ginger, lime tea
- Kapha dominance Ginger, lemon, honey, black pepper tea
NASAL AND SINUS CLEANSING/ jala neti
Jala neti is a form of yogic cleansing performed by administering saline solution through the nasal cavity. This procedure helps remove impurities from the nasal cavity and sinus’s. It is effective in preventing conditions associated with the ears, nose and throat as well as invigorating the mind and sense organs.
- 2 cups room temperature water
- 3 tsp Sea or rock salt
- 1 Neti pot
METHOD Combine the salt to water and stir until salt dissolves. Fill the neti pot with water. Leaning over a sink tilt your head forward and tilt to the right side. Place the spout of the neti pot on the right nostril to ensure a seal is made with the spout and nostril. Slowly tilt the neti pot and pour water so that the saline solution enters the right nostril and exits via the left nostril. Continue until contents of neti pot have passed through nostrils, gentle blow your nose and expel any loosened mucus and repeat on opposite side.
OILING OF THE EARS/ karna purana
METHOD Apply 2-4 drops of warm oil in each ear.
Materials – Black sesame oil can be used. 2 Cloves of garlic can be fried in black sesame, filtered and used to prevent ear infection. Black mustard seed oil can be used to address tinnitus.
DAILY OIL MASSAGE/ abhyanga
METHOD Gently warm the oil to above body temperature by placing the bottle in hot water in a saucepan or under hot running water for a minute or so. Have some old towels on the floor to avoid messy spillage and make sure there are no drafts coming into the room.
Starting with the top of your head and using the flat of your hand, massage gently over scalp, outside of ears, over face, following the contours of the bones, then the neck, paying attention to the back of the neck. Then working down the body, use round massage movements over the joints and long massage movements over the long bones.
Work very lightly over the heart area, but firmly over the abdomen, massaging in the direction of the colon (i.e. clockwise as you look down). Massage as much of your back as you can reach, then work down the thighs and legs to the feet. Pay special attention to the feet, spending at least a third of the total time on them. (If possible, leave the oil on for some time – e.g. whilst doing yoga or other exercise) Then wash off the oil with a mild soap in a warm bath or shower and pat yourself dry.
Points to Remember -
As a morning ritual, it can settle the mind and stimulate the body. At night it can be used on the feet only, to settle the whole system and ensure a good night’s sleep. If you have a lot of Pitta in your system or the weather is a very hot, coconut oil (preferably cured) can be used instead of sesame oil, until you cool down again.
BE VERY CAREFUL stepping in and out of the bath/shower to avoid slipping. Put on warm clothes after your bath/shower. Warmth will help the assimilation of the oil. Put on socks to protect your carpet from oil stains.
TRADITIONAL AYURVEDIC MASSAGE OILS/ thailams
DHANVANTARAM THAILAM Toning and protecting. Traditionally this oil has been used during pregnancy, improving complexion, suppleness and over all health of skin, muscular and nervous system. Dosha effect VPK, -VP
MAHANARAYANA THAILAM Soothing muscles and joints. Traditionally used to relieve muscle pain and balance symptoms associated with sprains, strains, sciatica, neuralgia, paralysis, gout and arthritis. Dosha effect VPK, -VP
BALASHWAGANDHA THAILAM Strengthening and rejuvenating and traditionally this oil has been used to strengthen and tone the muscular and nervous system and commonly used in weakness and degenerative conditions. Dosha effect VPK, -VP
ELADI THAILAM This soothing and cooling. Traditionally used for skin conditions such as allergic dermatitis and ringworm infection. It is also used to improve skin complexion and texture. Dosha effect VPK, -VP
KARPOORADHI THAILAM This soothing and energizing oil has been traditionally used to improve circulation, reduce pain, cramping and numbness. Also traditionally applied to the chest to help reduce respiratory congestion. Dosha effect VPK, -VK
VALIYA SAHACHARADHI THAILAM Stimulating and rejuvenating oil has been traditionally used to reduce pain, cramping and numbness associated with lower limbs. Also used to improve circulation and reduce varicose veins. Dosha effect VPK, -VK
SHODHANA THAILAM This stimulating and detoxifying oil has been blended with a combination of stimulating and rejuvenating herbs making it ideal for managing stagnation and cleansing procedures. Dosha effect VPK, -VK
NASAL DROPS/ pratimarshya nasya
Nasya is the use of various medicinal substances administered through the nasal route. There are many different forms of nasya therapy however these procedures require a trained Ayurvedic professional for administration. Pratimarshana nasya is a safe practice that can be used daily to protect and strengthen the eyes nose and ears and prevent disease that affect these areas as well a wide range of other health promoting benefits associated with neuroendocrine and reproductive systems.
Nasya can be done just after a shower in the morning when the nasal cavity has been exposed to exposure steam.
Contra-indications – Head colds, rhinitis, congestion, excessively wet and cold times of the year. Nasya can be very affective for these conditions however require administration from a trained professional.
- Oil - Anu thailam or cured sesame oil
METHOD Place two drops of oils just inside each nasal cavity and gently massage with your pinky. Make sure nails are well groomed to avoid irritation.
OIL PULLING / gandusha
Til oil is beneficial for the strength of the jaw, depth of voice, flabbiness of face, excellent gustatory sensation and good taste for food. One used to such gargles never gets dryness of throat, nor do his lips ever get cracked his teeth will never be carious and will be deep rooted; he will not have any toothache nor will his teeth set on edge by sour intake; his teeth can chew even the hardest eatables. (Ca. Sutra. 5:78-80)
This procedure involves gargling and swishing medicated substances or oils in the mouth for a certain period of time. Gandusha is used in both healthy and diseased conditions. Some benefits of gandusha include feeling of lightness in mouth, normal functioning of sense organs, strengthening teeth and gums, improving taste perception and cleansing the oral cavity thus preventing conditions such as gingivitis.
- 1 tablespoon Gandusha Oil, cured sesame oil or cold pressed coconut oil
- 1 cup water approx 40 C)
- 1 Spittoon or sink for expelling oil
METHOD After warm shower place 1 tablespoon of medicated or cured sesame oil into the mouth. Gargle and swish oil between throat, cheeks and front of mouth. Continue swishing until oil becomes completely emulsified then discard liquid. For best results rinse mouth with BODHAKA TEETH AND GUM SUPPORT -when complete.