As you glide into a cobra pose on this International Yoga Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the gift of Yoga in our lives that has brought good physical and mental health, healed illnesses, brought spiritual centeredness, a happy state of mind, flexibility for some and weight loss for others, we are here to tell you all that you need to know about amplifying the Yogic experience with some Ayurvedic practices. For example, what if we told you, Abhyanga can help you improve your postures and give your muscles the right relaxation post practice? Did you know, Ayurveda recommends waking up in the Brahmamurta, that is 2 hours before sun rise and now there is scientific evidence supporting the concept of waking up before sun rise.
Just practicing Asanas does not make one a true yogi. Global spiritual master, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of The International Association For Human Values defines a Yogi as such-
“If you claim that you are a Yogi, then you should have an undying smile on your face. I would say, that is the sign of a Yogi. Yoga makes your emotions softer and more peaceful, and you blossom in your emotions. It brings freedom in your expression and your thought patterns. These are the real signs of Yoga. It is not just to do with the flexibility of the body. Of course, that too is a part of Yoga. The body becomes flexible, and the mind grows in faith and conviction. If all this happens, know that it is the gift of Yoga, and consider yourself as a Yogi.”
Here are the three practices that every Yogi needs to include in their yoga journey and they obviously come with their share of benefits for the body, mind and soul.
1. Wake up 2 hours before the sun rises
As hard as it may seem for many people, there is good scientific evidence in favor of waking up that early. From performing well in studies to better sticking to new fitness regimes or diet, early risers have an advantage over those who don’t. Studies suggest, early risers do well in keeping themselves hydrated and oxygenating themselves, while late risers are likely to go through the day, playing catch up. Early risers fill up on the alertness, calm and high Prana that gives a big boost to day’s productivity.
2. Following the Dincharya
What aids and enhances the journey of a yogi is following the proper dinacharya or daily routine as inscribed in classical Ayurvedic texts
- Wake up 2 hours before the sun rises.
- Have 2 glasses of warm water. Have 2 glasses of warm water after waking up. This flushes toxins out of the body, makes the system alkaline and improves blood circulation.
- Practice Yoga and meditation every day to get the serotonin flowing in the body, to make you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for the day ahead.
- Having a sun bath after a full body oil massage improves blood circulation, removes dryness in the body and joint stiffness is reduced, leaves you feeling fresh.
- Ideally, have lunch by 12-12.30 PM lunch and breakfast by 7 AM. Keep 4-5 hours gap between meals, which is enough time for digestion.
- In between meals, you can have one whole fruit and nuts, and lots of water.
- Avoid noon naps. They can cause more fatigue and lethargy. Only if you are ill or elderly, they you can do yoga nidra or yogic sleep (a meditative practice where you take your awareness through various parts of the body and relax them one by one).
- By 5 PM you can meditate and walk. The walk will reduce brain’s hyperactivity and chemical reaction caused due to stress, while providing you with some extra oxygen.
- By 7-7.30 PM, have dinner. Dinner should be finished at least 2 hours before bed time, for a good sleep. The 2 hours give sufficient time to the system for digestion.
Abhyanga is one of the most popular and commonly recommended therapies in Ayurveda that incorporates warm, aromatic oils, rhythmically massaged into your body, which loosen toxins, relax the nervous system, and provide rest, nourishment, and rejuvenation. It improves blood circulation, tones and moisturizes skin, works up the lymph system, and calms the mind and nervous system.
Shankara’s Soothing Body Oil is one such offering. It is a soothing blend of essential oils that are known for their relaxing and de-stressing qualities. Made from essential oils of almond, grapeseed, sunflower, borage, evening primerose, lavender, sandalwood and chamomile, this nutrient rich body oil also helps address worries of the mind, over critical thinking, irritability and anger! An oil for hypertension and stress release is also an oil for a perfectly calm and relaxed mind!
- Abhyanga calms down the nervous system
Abhyanga calms the mind and the nervous system that is under attack from the physical stress and psychological or emotional stress we carry into our systems from our work place, relationships or family interactions, all of which distracts you from being a true centered and ever joyful Yogi. Abhyanga helps you eliminate this emotional toxin which is stored in our body in the form of stress and tightness. It leaves you feeling peaceful, clear and light.
- More awareness
A balanced nervous system leads to more awareness, alertness and clarity to dawn in your mind. With Abhyanga, you also feel more energized after the massage.
- Tones and nourishes the skin
Ayurvedic massage as part of the Panchakarma treatment helps the oil penetrate the skin, presses into tissues, lubricates internal organs, muscles, joints and releases toxins like lactic acid and trapped oils and chemicals that may have seeped in, apart from toning up the skin, nourishing and moisturizing it. An oil massage regulates Vata, increases blood circulation and supports the detoxification in the body.
The massaging action in Abhyanga also boosts your body’s metabolism, so you can eat more and digest faster, even as the metabolism tends to slow in the season. It also improves the body’s waste elimination process. So Aama (toxins) does not get produced in the body.