Designed to help you achieve a sense of calm, even in chaos by reconnecting with your inner self, these Ayurveda self-care remedies teach you to stop, slow down and become more aware of what’s going on in your life – perfect for resetting this Autumn. Some of these ancient rituals and practices may seem a little unusual, but as you dive deeper into Ayurveda you discover that they are the base of an incredible mind-body natural medicine.
Maeve O’Sullivan, Ayurvedic practitioner and co-founder of Escapda says “Eastern medicines recognise that different types of constitutions need to be looked after in different ways, from one’s general lifestyle and diet as well as herbal medicine and acupuncture formula when the body is out of balance. There is so much you can do to support your body for greater health and wellbeing and these morning Ayurvedic Rituals are just the start.”
If you are feeling low a morning of self-love might be all that your body & mind need to feel renewed again. Massages, baths and skincare rituals are all acts of self-love as they are times when you are truly focusing on yourself and nothing else. In addition to the amazing skincare benefits of Gua Sha, this gentle massage technique is exceptionally calming and soothing for our nervous system. When we relax the face through Gua Sha massage and release tension and tissue adhesions, we can smooth out these lines and release the emotions and tension behind them. Our favourite tool to use is the Hayo’u Clear Quartz Gua Sha tool as it has a high silica dioxide content which is an important mineral for skin health and is known as the master healer.
Oil pulling is an age-old remedy rooted in Ayurvedic medicine that uses natural substances to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It has the added effect of whitening teeth naturally and
evidence even shows that it may be beneficial for gum health and that certain oils may help fight harmful bacteria in the mouth! There are hundreds of different types of bacteria in your mouth. While many of them are friendly, others are not. The bacteria in your mouth create a biofilm on your teeth, a thin layer known as plaque. Having some plaque on your teeth is perfectly normal, but if it gets out of hand, it can cause various problems, including bad breath, gum inflammation, gingivitis and cavities.
Tip: In order to oil pull, you put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, then swish it around for 10–20 minutes. Oil pulling should work with pretty much any oil, but we recommend coconut oil due to its pleasant taste.
Tongue scraping, or jihwa prakshalana, is a traditional part of Ayurvedic self-care and also a great way to check-in with your body each morning. Overnight, as the body processes everything that was ingested that day, toxins (called ama in Ayurveda) begin to form and are visible as a coating on the tongue. It is advised to scrape your tongue once a day, making it part of your normal morning cleansing routine along with brushing your teeth. Research has shown that a tongue scraper is more effective in removing all debris than a toothbrush. Brushing will loosen and move debris around, but it may not remove the bacteria. The scraping action of a tongue scraper collects the tongue coating where our oral bacteria live.
Tip: Standing in front of a mirror, you scrape your tongue by simply holding the two ends of the scraper in both hands, sticking out your tongue, and placing the scraper as far back on your tongue as possible. With firm but gentle pressure, scrape the surface of your tongue in one long stroke. Rinse the scraper and repeat until your tongue feels clean and is free of coating (usually 5 to 10 times).
Abhyanga (pronounced Abhy-ang- ga) is an Ayurveda self-massage technique using warm oil (usually infused with herbs) which deeply nourishes the body hydrating dry skin, calms the mind and leaves you feeling grounded and re-energised whilst skin feels revitalised, radiant and nourished. This can also be done with your partner as part of a bonding exercise.
Tip: Ideally Abhyanga should be done every day before you shower but if you can add this to your daily routine at least 3-4 times a week it will make a huge difference to you. Done regularly, it boosts immunity and improves circulation, is beneficial for maintaining health and has been used therapeutically for years to help aid disorders.
Bhramari Pranayama is a safe, easy-to-learn practice, that has tremendous therapeutic potential. Like other pranayamas, its power comes partly from its effects on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Lengthening the exhalation relative to the inhalation activates the calming parasympathetic branch of the ANS. For those who suffer from anxiety or anxious (rajasic) depression, the practice can begin to quiet the mind within a few breaths.
Tip: Sit comfortably and allow your eyes to close. Take a breath or two to settle in and notice the state of your mind. When you’re ready, inhale and then, for the entire length of your exhalation, make a low- to medium-pitched humming sound in the throat. Notice how the sound waves gently vibrate your tongue, teeth, and sinuses. Imagine the sound is vibrating your entire brain (it really is). Do this practice for six rounds of breath and then, keeping your eyes closed, return to your normal breathing. Notice if anything has changed.
DAILY YOGA FLOW
The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskara (SOOR-yuh nah-muh-SKAR-uh), is a series of poses performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement. Each pose coordinates with your breathing: Inhale to extend, and exhale to bend. Traditionally, it is performed at dawn, facing the rising sun. In time, each of the twelve positions came to have its own mantra, each celebrating an aspect of the sun’s divinity. The Sun Salutation is a graceful sequence of twelve positions performed as one continuous exercise. Each position counteracts the one before, stretching the body in a different way and alternately expanding and contracting the chest to regulate the breathing. Practised daily, it brings great flexibility to the spine and joints and keeps the waist trim. It limbers up the whole body in preparation for the asanas (postures) or as a stand-alone practice.
Tip: If you want to start yoga at home but don’t know where to start! Sun Salutations is the perfect place to start. It is an easy and quick routine that you can fit in, even on your busiest day to wake up, stretch and re-vitalise the body and mind.
words by Escapada Co-Founder & TCM Practitioner, Maeve O’Sullivan