On the go and in a rush, we spend too little time caring for ourselves. As a result, we are dying earlier and experiencing more cancer and bizzare disease than did our ancestors. When given the chance to practice self-care, we've not been taught so it's hard to know where and how to start. I invite you to consider this checklist, choose a category that speaks to you - select one new habit and see how quickly your life can change for the healthier, happier and more fulfilled.
- Wake with gentle thoughts - cultivate a mood of love and generosity; avoid going into ‘work’ or ‘do’ mode until you have ‘filled your cup’
- Ask yourself to remember your dreams. Write them down, make comments about the feelings or notable events your subconscious is revealing or unspooling.
- Take a full breath, in and out 5 times, stretch your arms out, activate your legs, turn your head from side to side and let your whole body expand; allow the blood and lymph to flow
- Do a relaxation body scan, 61 Points Practice, or Yoga Nidra
- Look at your hands, remember you are human, which allows you the opportunity to consciously and proactively evolve and grow in spiritual maturity and abundance.
- Give yourself a facial massage: with ring finger and middle finger, gently massage your temples, hairline, and jaw. Massage down to your chin and neck, under your chin and behind your ears. Massage around the top of your ears and gently massage the sinus on either side of the nose, under the eye, and above the eyebrow. Make your way to the space above and below your lips.
- Do an ear massage to access the acupressure points that soothe the body, mind and organs. Gently squeeze your earlobes.
- Say a prayer of gratitude, or find 3 things to be grateful for, even and especially the little things.
- Agree to love yourself and accept nourishment with kindness and gratitude.
- Set an intention to be kind, honest, and non-selfish. To avoid excessiveness, and practice cleanliness in thought, word and deed. To accept contentment, to reign in the desires of the senses, to be aware of self and the results of our actions. And finally, to be aware of the divine in al things, and in all things the divine.
Bathroom / Detox Time:
- Evacuate your bladder and bowels. Don’t strain, if you have delays, you can practice alternate nostril breathing and talk to an ayurvedic consultant for practical tips to encourage more effective detox / elimination.
- Wash your eyes with cool water and massage the eyelids by gently rubbing them.
- Blink your eyes 7 times and rotate them in all directions. Pat dry your face with a clean towel and give yourself a cheeky smile in the mirror.
- Swish your mouth and gums with sesame oil to promote strong teeth and healthy gums. Gently massage your gums after spitting oil in the trash (not the sink).
- Scrape your tongue with a metal tongue scraper or the back of a spoon, back to front, removing the coating of toxins that accumulated overnight as part of your bodies natural healing process.
- Transform your life with nasal care by using Nasya Oil, or a Neti Pot each day. Cleanse your sinus network by using warm distilled water + salt in your Neti Pot – rinse both sides, gently washing out excess mucous to reduce seasonal allergies and colds. Nourish your sinus, reduce headaches and soothe your mind with a few drops of Nasya Oil. We prefer Himalayan Institute Neti Pot kit and the Ayurvedic Institute Nasya Oil.
- Support your body’s detox process by drinking a glass of warm or room temp water to cleanse your kidneys and GI tract. If recommended by your ayurvedic consultant, add lemon, lime or therapeutic herbs according to your constitution.
Practice Mindfulness, Meditation and Breath-work (this is Yoga):
- Depending on your needs, do a morning flow to Activate, Soothe or Ground.
- Activate & Enliven: 12 Sun Salutes
- Soothe & Cool: 12 Moon Salutes
- Ground & Balance: Hatha Yoga, Yin, or Restorative
- Pranayama (breath practices)
- Activate and Enliven: Kapalabhati (shining skull) or Bhastrika (bellows breath)
- Soothe & Cool: Sitali
- Ground & Balance: Nadi-Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
- The Three Minute Meditation: beginning with breath awareness, complete a body scan and do systematic relaxation head to toe. Gently shape your breath into an even flow, no pauses or flutters. Shape your inhale and exhale to equal lengths – maybe 4 or 5 counts each. Eliminate pauses between inhale and exhale such that the breath is a smooth continuous circle; inhale to exhale exhale to inhale. After 3 minutes of this practice, let go of the mindful shaping of breath and let the body breathe you. Notice how you feel.
- If you have more time, spend a few minutes with your thoughts on the fire behind your navel, which provides courage and strength. Allow a few minutes with your thoughts on your heart, which is the seat of unconditional love, intuitive knowledge and reduces grief, pain and chronic disease.
Nourish and Cleanse:
- Rub warm oil over the head and body before or after your shower. Gentle, daily oil massage of the scalp can bring happiness, as well as prevent headache, baldness, graying, and receding hairline. Oiling your body before bedtime will help induce sound sleep and keep the skin soft.
- Activate & Enliven - use warm sunflower or mustard oil.
- Soothe & Cool - use warm sunflower or coconut oil
- Ground & Balance - use warm sesame oil.
- Enjoy a shower or bath and give your full attention to the cleansing and appreciation of each part of your body, and all the work it completes on your behalf. Be grateful for the shampoo on your head and the soap on your toes, and all the spaces in between. Use soap on your 'pits and bits', and weekly do a throughout scrubbing to remove dead skin cells. Consider the use of a dry brush weekly to exfoliate and enliven.
Feeding your body:
- The food you put in your face determines the quality and quantity of healthy skin, organs and blood you carry.
- Always eat in a peaceful environment; eating while angry feeds anger to your cells. Delight in your meal and those around you.
- Count chemicals, not calories.
- Extreme diets are too extreme - eat according to your dosha, goals and stage of life.
- Fresh, seasonal, local foods prepared fresh each day, avoiding fast food, leftovers, frozen or packaged foods. See your ayurvedic consultant for a list of foods for your constitution or current condition.
- We don’t always have easy access to fresh, seasonal, local foods cooked at home or by friends / family – make the wisest choices possible and eat your food in the most peaceful atmosphere, with attention and gratitude.
- Don’t stress over the times when you can’t eat ‘best’, enjoy and be grateful for the bounty you have been provided with.
- Enjoy fruit as snacks, not with meals, to keep you energized and vital.
- Drink sips of warm or room temp water throughout your meal.
Practice Mindful Eating:
- Are you hungry? Or does it just seem like a good time to eat? Close your eyes, slow your breath and tune into your body. Bring your attention to the part of the body where you feel the hunger. If you’re truly unsure, drink a cup of warm water – if the hunger does not go away, it’s time for a meal!
- Don’t overindulge. Your stomach capacity is as large as the 2 palms, cupped together. Eat to 2/3rd that capacity to allow sufficient room for food to churn, aiding the digestion process.
- Reduce sensory input while eating so you can focus on your food. Avoid distractions such as your phone, laptop, TV. Your digestion cannot function properly while your senses are busy watching screens, having meetings, driving the car (please don’t) or otherwise too distracted to be aware of the taste of your food.
- Take the time to appreciate the food you are eating. Consider putting your utensil down after eat bite and savoring the taste, chewing well to aid digestion. After you eat, wait for the last bite to enter your stomach – no more eat and run – spend 3-5 minutes just relaxing, then 10 minutes after your meal take a short walk to aid the churning of digestion.
- Do not eat while upset (or with people to tend to upset you…). Emotional upset reduces the capacity of your digestion, the juices cannot flow and you cannot fully relax your digestive organs. Take a moment to process your emotions and approach mealtime with a more loving demeanor.
- Don’t let your drink douse your digestive fire. Iced or cold drinks douse your digestive fire and weaken your digestive enzymes. Large quantities of water will also weaken your natural hydrochloric acid. Small sips of room temperature or warm water (in the cold months) support better digestion.
- Eat your main meal for lunch when the sun is the strongest, (mid-day) your digestive fire is at its peak! Take breakfast as small, warm moist meals. Add digestive spices: cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg kick start your sleepy digestion. Dinner should be a meal easy to digest, well before the sun goes down.
- Satisfy your senses!! Breathe deep and appreciate the smell. Enjoy the taste. Notice the color, texture and vibrancy of the dish.
Maintaining throughout the day:
- Take a Three Minute Meditation at any point you need a break or are feeling stressed
- Enjoy Alternate Nostril Breathing – you can do this mentally – it’s stealthy self-care for your Mind!
- You have permission to relax: Do a guided relaxation, 61 Points Practice, or Yoga Nidra between 2pm and 6pm to give yourself a re-boot.
- Walk in Nature to notice the sights, sounds and smells of Mother Earth and her most subtle inhabitants
- Take a break and stretch your body – 5 minutes of Chair Yoga Stretches will release tension.
- Pranayama (breath practice) is the most effective way to calm and re-charge – see your ayurvedic consultant or experienced yoga teacher for detailed practices
Going to bed:
- Reduce or avoid screen time 30-45 minutes prior to bedtime.
- Self-oil massage – your whole body or soles of feet & top of head. This will help ground, soothe and nourish your dry bones and creaky joints. Soothe the nerves, nourish skin, and promote a stronger immune system.
- Try to be in bed by 10pm to support your circadian rhythm.
- Before your Mind puts your body to sleep, relax with a body scan, Yoga Nidra, or 61 Points Practice. 1 hour of Yoga Nidra is worth 4 hours of deep sleep.
- Meditate on your breath, counting backwards from 54, saying to yourself; ‘inhale 54 exhale 54, inhale 53 exhale 53…’ With each exhale, sense your body getting heavier and more relaxed. If you loose your place, go back to 54.
Reduce the signs and symptoms of aging:
- Do ‘Legs-Up-The-Wall’ 3 times a week to reverse the flow of blood, and get your immune system going.
- Take a Home Spa Day and enjoy a long bath with oils, or other natural herbal support.
- Dry brush your skin, or exfoliate weekly to remove dead skin cells, and allow your skin to breathe.
- Try an online slow flow yoga class or meditation.
- Exercise at least 3 times a week until you achieve a ‘glow’ of sweat – this moves lymph and circulation and supports your body’s detox process.
- Try to reduce the amount of time you spend driving, or take a ‘no-driving day’ each week to save your sanity and the planet.
- Do a media cleanse – reduce or eliminate the time you spend on social media, TV, or other outlets that bombard your mind and senses clatter throughout the day, or 1 day a week. Consider a 10 day cleanse and notice the difference in your mind and attitude.
- Sip warm water or herbal tea throughout the day to keep your tissues and organs healthy.
- Add digestive spices to your meals, or grated fresh ginger to promote digestion (which reduces the toxins that lead to disease).
- Take care of your feet: soak in water and scrub away dead tissues, care for cuticles and toenails, oil your clean feet before bed.
- Look at your thoughts, words and actions – consider how to reduce or eliminate the people, places and things that steal your energy.
- Journal in the mornings or before bedtime to process thoughts, feelings and unspool your subconscious.
Fill your cup to overflowing, so that others may drink from your saucer.