7 Morning Makeovers
Not an early bird? That doesn’t mean your mornings can’t change for the better.
By Vasant Lad
Do you hide under the covers when the sun comes up? Not to worry. With a few tweaks in your routine, you can transform your morning into the most nourishing, energizing part of your day. Try the seven simple rituals below for two weeks and see if ayurveda’s promises come true for you. According to the vaidyas (healers), these techniques will cleanse your body of toxins, balance your doshas, and infuse you with joy, peace, and strength…so that as dawn turns into day, you’ll be more prepared to face whatever comes your way.
Wake Up Before Sunrise
According to ayurveda, pure, tranquil, sattvic qualities dominate the atmosphere during the pre-dawn hours. That’s why yogis tend to meditate between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., when it’s easiest to attain peace of mind. Although that’s probably too extreme for your schedule, try waking up about 20 minutes before sunrise and notice how alert you feel.
Say a Prayer
Before your feet touch the earth, say a prayer. Spontaneous or traditional, it should connect you to the Divine. If you’d like, you can try this prayer, translated from the Vedic scriptures:
Dear God, you are inside of me, within my every breath, within each bird, each flower, each mighty mountain.Your sweet touch reaches everything and I am well protected. Thank you, God, for this beautiful day before me. May joy, love, peace, and compassion be part of my life and all those around me on this day.
After praying, touch the ground (or floor) with your right hand as you step out of bed, then touch your hand to your forehead, remembering your love and respect for Mother Earth.
Rehydrate and Cleanse
With cool water, gently splash your face and eyes. Gently massage your eyelids, then blink your eyes seven times and rotate them in all directions (side to side, up and down, diagonally, clockwise, and counterclockwise) to foster alertness.
Next, drink a glass of room temperature water—ideally, from a pure copper cup filled the night before. The slightly bitter taste of this water kindles agni (gastric fire), flushes the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, and stimulates peristalsis, which will encourage a healthy bowel movement.
Brush your teeth with ayurvedic toothpaste, then scrape your tongue with a stainless steel tongue scraper from back to front 7 to 10 times to remove ama (dead bacteria and toxins) and improve digestion.
Indulge in a five-minute gentle body massage, using warm (not hot!) organic oils to pacify your dominant dosha.
For vata: sesame oil
For pitta: sunflower oil
For kapha: corn oil.
Then take a shower and scrub your skin with natural soap.
Dab one drop of essential oil on your temples, nipples, and belly button. Then put your finger at the spot where your earlobe meets your jaw. Trace the line of your jaw downward just until it curves toward your chin. At the bottom of that curve, apply another drop of oil. Applying attars (oils) at these areas, where prana (life-force) is pulsating, will give you the aura of a saint.
For vata: tulsi or vacha oil;
For pitta: khus, sandalwood, or jasmine;
For kapha: amber or hina.
Walking in the fresh, early-morning air is the best way to get your mind and body in sync with the morning. Then loosen up with one of these quick hatha yoga routines.
For vata: do 12 slow, meditative sun salutations followed by three rounds of nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) or ujjayi pranayama.
For pitta: do 16 moderately fast sun salutations followed by three minutes of sitali (the cooling breath) or sitkari (the hissing breath).
For kapha: do 12 vigorous, rapid sun salutations followed by five minutes of bhastrika (bellows breath) or kapalabhati.
Wind down with a systematic relaxation in shavasana (corpse pose) and at least five minutes of meditation. Following this morning routine regularly will bring harmony, happiness, and perfect health into your life.
World-renowned ayurvedic physician Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc, is the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico.