Time sure does fly—I am about to turn the big 4-0 this year and feel better than ever! People often ask me my trick to defying age, and my answer is simple: daily yoga and an Ayurvedic lifestyle. While yoga has firmly landed into mainstream Western culture, Ayurveda is just starting to gain traction. Literally meaning “the science of life” Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years and is designed to help people live longer, healthier and more and well-balanced lives. At its core is the idea that illnesses can be prevented and treated by maintaining balance in the body, mind and consciousness through proper hydration, diet and lifestyle, as well as certain herbal remedies.
To help you get started, here are a few of my daily Ayurvedic “rituals” that I partake in every morning that are both easy on the budget and easy to integrate alongside my yoga practice. Remember, the key to maintaining good health is to keep the body and mind clean before sickness or disease manifests itself. If we can stay connected to our bodies, we can prevent disease down the line.
First, scrape your tongue! The white stuff we see on our tongues in the morning is called “ama.” Ama is undigested food residue that lodges itself within the organs and channels of the body and blocks digestion. An accumulation of ama can cause sickness and disease by blocking digestive fires. We need to have a healthy digestive system to maintain good health. A tongue scraper costs about ten dollars and is one of the best investments you can make for yourself.
Afterwards, I follow this with oil pulling, which involves rinsing the mouth with one tablespoon of oil for about ten minutes and spitting it out. This helps the body get rid of toxins and promotes self-healing from within. You can either use sunflower or sesame oil, both of which are usually used for cooking and readily available at most grocery stores.
Now, it’s time to brush your skin—and yes, you read correctly, dry brushing. Our skin is the largest organ in the human body. It protects us from the elements and is the first place of contact when foreign substances enter the body. Using a loofah or natural fiber body brush, brush the skin with firm circular strokes before you step into the shower. Start from the feet and hands, move up the legs and toward the arms and avoid the delicate areas of the throat and face, as well as any rashes or sore spots. When I have the time, I will include an oil bath to my skin ritual and rub sesame or almond oil in circular motions from my head to feet—paying particular attention to the joints to help lubricate and increase circulation in those areas. Finally, jump in the shower and finish with a one-minute burst of cold water, which brings the blood circulation to the skin, helping it look fresh and smooth.
Last, before getting involved in your day, take a few minutes to drink a glass of warm water with lemon, which helps evacuate the bowels and stimulate digestion. This is also great for alkalizing the body and boosting the immune system. I also recommend eating a light breakfast that is easy to digest and including a green smoothie or green drink high in minerals to keep your body glowing from the inside out.
This may seem like a lot, but don’t fret—you don’t have to do everything every day. In the very least, start out with the tongue scraper and lemon water. Then, try adding another remedy to your daily routine each week or two and note if you feel a difference. Remember, commitment is the key to longevity and living a healthy and more fulfilled life. Good luck on your journey to health!
Joan Hyman is a distinguished Senior Yogaworks Teacher, who weaves her personal yogic journey into popular teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats around the world. Connect with Joan at www.joanhyman.com and Facebook.