It is essential to gain control over your life before you can begin to seek health in your life. All Ayurvedic treatments and therapies are designed to restore this subtle balance of your constitution. For getting your act together, Ayurveda recommends a daily regimen of healthcare appropriate for your Ayurvedic constitution type. Practicing a proper diet, lifestyle habits, meditation, exercise regimen, basic herbology, simple home remedies, massages and rejuvenation therapies:
Ideally wake up at the brahma muhurta, which is the twilight period before sunrise, between 5 and 6 in the morning, depending on the season. This is a favorable time of day and enhances peace of mind.
Right after stirring from bed, wash your face with tepid water. Make a daily habit of washing your mouth, nose and eyes clean every morning. After brushing your teeth, remember to clean your tongue with a tongue scraper. This clears off accumulated toxins from the previous day.
Evacuation of Bowels
After washing up, drink a glass of water. In winter the water should be warm; in summer it should be of normal temperature, but never chilled. If you feel no urge to evacuate yet, drink another glass of water and briefly walk around the room. The water and the exercise should help stimulate the evacuation process.
Practice some simple exercises for about 15 to 20 minutes each morning. Yoga, Tai Chi, brisk walking and stretching are very beneficial for strengthening and co-coordinating your different body parts. They also help relax the mind and body, which is very important for our modern lifestyles. Simple breathing exercises such as pranayama are also very useful for regulating and energizing your prana or vital life force.
After your daily exercise routine, give yourself a brief oil massage. Warm sesame oil is very beneficial. During summer, coconut oil is also very good. Apply oil to the scalp and massage gently for a few minutes. This helps hair growth, stimulates the scalp, prevents headaches and is very strengthening for the nervous system. Use a cotton swab dipped in oil to pour one or two drops of oil in each ear and the nostrils. After this, massage oil on to your whole body, spending a little extra time on the joints and the soles of your feet.
Meditate daily for about 5-10 minutes. This helps clear the mind and relieves tension and stress. This is a very effective practice for maintaining mental and spiritual health. Sit in a relaxed position, in a quiet and peaceful environment. Breathe deeply and methodically. Clear the mind of all thoughts and concentrate on your breath or on a mantra.
Take a daily bath or shower in moderate temperature water. Use natural soaps and shampoos whenever possible.
When you return home in the evening, try to relax for at least five minutes. If you have a family, talking or playing with family members will ease the pressure and stress experienced during the day. If you feel tired, take a shower and have a gentle head massage (with or without oil). Wear comfortable clothing.
Try to eat dinner early. If possible, before sunset and no later than two hours before bedtime. The evening meal should consist of food that is light and easily digested. Avoid deep fried, greasy, cold foods, dairy products and sweets. Rice and yogurt should be also avoided. The ideal meal at this time of day consists of salads, boiled or steamed vegetables, vegetable soups and breads.
If reading or writing during the night, adequate light and a chair that supports the back are required. Do not read, write, use the computer or watch television for too long into the night. Over indulgence in sex should also be avoided. Going to bed early is good, especially if you have a busy or important day coming up. Try to go to sleep by 10 pm or 11 pm at the latest. Brushing your teeth and taking a shower before bedtime is very hygienic and relaxing.
The seasons have a natural effect on the three doshas. According to Charaka Samhita, the strength of a person is enhanced when suitable diets and routines are adopted according to each season. To attain this level of health, one must have knowledge of the qualities of the seasons and their influence on the three doshas. The doshas accumulate during seasons that share their elements or qualities. Once the dosha has accumulated beyond a certain limit, it becomes aggravated and symptoms of this may be manifested. Seasons opposite in nature to a dosha pacify it.
As the heat of the sun increases in spring, accumulated kapha starts to break up and disperse throughout the body. This weakens the digestive fire or jatharagni and causes many kapha related disorders. Coughs, sinus problems and hay fever are common during spring.
The heavy heating diet adopted in winter should be replaced with foods more suitable for warmer weather. Lighter foods that are cooler in nature should be substituted. Sleeping during the day should be avoided as it aggravates kapha. Regular physical exercise, gargling with warm water or herbal decoctions and drinking warm water are beneficial for preventing disease and alleviating symptoms of aggravated kapha.
During summer, the sun is at its strongest and heat increases pitta. Staying in a cool room or shady place during the day is recommended. Excessive exposure to the heat and sun may cause sunburn, heat or sunstroke. Aromas or essential oils that give a cooling effect like sandal or rose may be used. One should wear light colored clothes, and clothes should be loose and comfortable.
The diet should mainly consist of cooling, sweet foods and drinks. Cucumber, watermelon, fruits, fruit juices (not acidic or citrus varieties), grains, wheat, rice and milk are ideal. Lots of water, about six to eight glasses, should be consumed. Sour, pungent and salty foods should be avoided. Hot, spicy and acidic foods such as chilies, onions, garlic and spices should also be excluded from the diet or used in small quantities. Tea, coffee, alcohol and smoking should be avoided.
In early autumn, pitta is aggravated, and as the conditions become cooler vata is increased. There is a lot of heat in the blood, causing skin irritations like rashes, inflammations, dryness and itching. Massage is good for the skin, and fluid intake should be maintained at six to eight glasses a day, to cleanse the internal system. Clothing that provides protection from the wind should be worn.
The digestive fire or jatharagni is not very strong, so heavy foods should be minimized in the early part of the season. Sweet, light foods are recommended. As it becomes colder and wetter, foods can become heavier and more heating in nature. Try to avoid sour, acidic foods, as they will increase pitta. Eat those vegetables and fruits that are in season, and rice, barley and wheat.
In winter there is natural accumulation of kapha due to the cold and wet environment, so efforts should be made to keep warm and dry. Vata may also become aggravated due to the cooler weather. Warm baths and sauna (svedana), sunbaths and living in an insulated or heated house are beneficial. Heavy, warm, dry cloths should be worn. In winter, body massage should consist of mainly dry rubbing. If there is aggravation of vata, warm oil may be used.
Avoiding cold or frozen foods and drinks, and light foods, is recommended. Warm drinks, and foods that have a heating effect are preferable. During winter the digestive power (jatharagni) is stronger. As the external atmosphere is so cold, the body retains heat inside and attempts to preserve it. Therefore, the internal digestive fire becomes stronger and is able to metabolize oils, fats and dairy products such as yogurt, milk and cheese. Heavier foods can form a larger part of the diet, because they are easier to digest with a strong digestive fire or jatharagni.