Ayurvedic Approach to Self-Care
Ayurveda recommends 3 things for true self-care according to two of my teachers Mary Thompson & Katie Silcox.
-Balance Agni, Remove Ama, Increase Ojas
What does that mean?
To balance your agni means to have regular digestion. Regular digestion is having a bowel movement every single day around the same time. The stronger your agni the better health you typically have. What you digest is everything according to Ayurveda.
Next up it’s removing ama, or toxins. Toxins are the habits, food, or technology loops we might get ourselves stuck in. Ama is the sludge that keeps us from truly digesting our food or possibly experiences we have in life. As mind/body is connected much more so in Eastern medicines than here in the Western cultures.
Finally increasing our ojas or vital energy. How can we build our energy up so we have lasting energy throughout the day? Making sure you eat nourishing foods, rest, meditate, move your body, laugh, ample sleep, nature, and giving your mind time to rest and digest. It is said ojas take 27-30 days to build up. So if you’re completely depleted don’t think this will be an overnight fix. Just as I tell my personal training clients that first month things start to move and shift weight might not always come off but that 2nd month is when you start to see the changes with consistent routines.
That is step one when thinking about self-care how can you balance your agni, ama and ojas. After that here are a few ideas for self-care items based on your dosha (mind/body type).
How does Ayurveda approach self-care?
In Ayurveda, they want you to make time for yourself each day. That is why self-care is so important, especially in the fast pace environment we are living now. Slowing down to get in tune with our bodies & our minds is one of the staples of Ayurveda. Most people go so fast and don’t want to slow down to notice how they are truly feeling. Ayurveda is really geared to help you become more in-tune with you.
When you choose what self-care acts make sure you are choosing ones that are aligned with what you enjoy. Just because they say to do your own facial if you prefer to get one in a spa do the one that gives you more joy. Don’t feel as if you’re adding something more to your to do list. Nobody needs anything more to add to your life have it be something that really feels nice. One example is a client of mine really wants to be someone who enjoys baths. But she said she is not there yet. It feels like a chore and doesn’t feel like self-care, yet. So it is something she is not scratching off her list forever just at this stage in her life.
Another note on self-care through the year, it will probably change. During the winter months a bath might sound more inviting than in the summer months. Sitting by a fire with a cup of turmeric milk might sound more pleasing in colder months, while enjoying a glass of cooling sun tea in the summer. Doing nasya in the winter & neti pot in the spring & fall seasons.
Best Oils for body types
- Vata: use organic sesame oil
- Pitta: use coconut oil or sunflower
- Kapha: use corn, mustard or sesame
Self-care ideas for the senses:
- Neti pot
- Dry brush
- Make figure 8’s with your pelvis or eyes
- Take pen to tip of nose & away from nose
- Try all 6 tastes- salty, sweet, bitter, astringent, sour, pungent
- Try new teas
- Place blanket over ears
- Spend time alone even if it’s just for 5 minutes
- Give yourself the gift of silence
- Go outside
- Sit in a yin yoga pose
- Spend time with your pets
- Say a few OM’s
- Taking a bath
- Facials (see recipe below)
Coconut & Turmeric Face Pack for Fall
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)
2 tablespoons raw organic honey
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon whole-milk yogurt
1 tablespoon coconut milk or enough to make a smooth paste
- Mix all ingredients. Apply to clean, dry skin & leave on for 15-20 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly & tone & moisturize your skin as desired.
5 fresh marigolds or roses
1-2 tablespoons whole milk or enough to make a paste 1 tablespoon honey
- Using a mortar & pestle, pound flowers with milk to make a fresh, flowery paste.
- Mix in honey
- Apply this paste to your face & leave it on for 10-15 minutes before washing it off
with lukewarm water.
The Doshas & Self-Care
Self Love for Vatas:
Vatas crave excitement, new experiences but out of routine quickly become overstimulated & out of balance.
- Get plenty of rest by going to bed earlier
- Start your day with self-massage. Try calming oils- lavender & clary sage
- Follow vata- pacifying diet with consistent meal times.
- Drink lots of warm fluids throughout the day & golden milk before bed.
Self love for Pittas:
Pittas are full of passion, focus & powerful energy at their best. Which means they are good leaders but tend to push themselves to hard & forget to rest.
- Take time for rest & relaxation. Resist the urge to overbook yourself.
- Allow space to do nothing.
- Eat a pitta balancing diet. Stay away from caffeine, & spicy foods which cause aggression.
- Get out in nature to bring more peace & soothing scenery to help wind you down.
- Everything in moderation.
Self love for Kaphas
Kaphas typically are relaxed & easy going. So make sure kaphas add movement into their day to keep them from getting bored or depressed.
- Resist the urge to be in bed all day. Get moving.
- Breathe deeply- meditation will help stimulate brain activity
- Follow a kapha-balancing diet. Avoid refined sugar & alcohol
- Dry brush to stimulate circulation
- Focus on what makes you happy & schedule those activities into your day
Recover after work ideas
- Gym time- not intense, but revitalizing think restorative yoga, walking
- Asana (yoga poses)
- Pranayama (breath work) meditation
- Address the actual stress in your life
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