The habits and routines of a person’s life are the single most important determinant of their well-being. Healthy habits create a healthy life, unhealthy habits create an unhealthy life. This can not be overemphasized. As a result, we evaluate each patient’s lifestyle. It is here, in the lifestyle, that we most often identify the causative factor of disease. Thus, healing can not completely occur unless we correct the habits that are causing ill health and adopt habits that bring about harmony and healing. Each practitioner of Ayurveda must strive to adopt healthy habits in their own lives and let go of those that are causing imbalance. This gives an appreciation and insight into the patient’s journey and prepares the practitioner to be better able to help them.
Proper Ayurvedic lifestyle centers around the three pillars of life, digestion (food), creativity (sex) and rest (sleep). Healthy habits in these three areas assure a person of maximum longevity in this life. These three areas of life go to the core of one’s behaviors and thus to a very deep place within a person’s consciousness. When harmony is achieved in these three areas, a person’s consciousness has evolved to a very high state.
How a person lives is a reflection of their consciousness. Vedanta teaches that each person’s experience and their life is a reflection of what is happening within their consciousness. Hence, changing how one lives is the equivalent of changing one’s consciousness. Transformation is the process of erasing samskaras and burning up karmas. Even if specific samskaras are not completely erased, the “groove in the record” is lessened and a person gains personal power and control over their life.
Proper Morning Routines
Mornings are a busy time for most people as they prepare for the day ahead. Ayurveda and Yoga, however, ask each person to develop routines in the morning that support their body and mind. Regular practices keep a person physically, mentally and emotionally balanced and healthy, allowing them to provide greater service through their chosen work. For this reason, as people begin to adopt an Ayurvedic and Yogic lifestyle, waking up early in the morning becomes important. Proper routines surrounding sleep will support all of the other practices the students of Yoga and Ayurveda will perform.
Each morning, a person should comfortably eliminate their bowels. This routine is an important sign of healthy digestion and is understood to be in harmony with the rhythms of nature. For those people who do not have such a routine the following is recommended.
Developing a Healthy Daily Elimination Pattern
Each morning upon awakening, drink a glass of room temperature or warm water. Following ingestion, sit on the toilet. Even if this does not produce a bowel movement, the practice of sitting will eventually support the alignment of apana vayu with the rhythms of the universe. Continue this practice each day until the movements are regular.
Each morning upon awakening, the tongue should be inspected for a coating. The quantity and color of the coating should be noted. Next, a person should scrape the tongue with a tongue cleaner and remove the coating. A tongue cleaner should be applied from back to front 5-10 times. This practice removes ama, freshens the breath and improves the agni.
Each morning, the teeth should be brushed and flossed. For the best health of the teeth and gums, brushing and flossing should occur after each meal. Brushing and flossing not only keep the teeth clean and prevent cavities, it also stimulates the gums and improves their health.
Each morning, the gums should be massaged. Sesame oil massage builds the health of the gums. The combined action of massage plus oil application keeps the gums healthy, prevents receding gums and protects against gum infection.
Each morning, the nasal passages should be cleaned. The process of cleaning the nasal passages is called neti. A neti pot is used for this purpose. A neti pot is a small pot that looks like a toy teapot. The tip of the pot’s spout is placed in one nostril as the pot is tipped. The solution enters the nasal passage and flows in one nostril and out the other. For this technique to be successful, it is important to keep the mouth open and tilt the head to the side. The solution used for general maintenance is body temperature salt water. The amount of salt added to water can vary. The proper quantity is the amount that does not cause burning of the nasal membranes. Begin with 1/4 tsp. of salt per half cup of water. Following neti, the nasal passages should be properly oiled with a constitutionally appropriate oil to avoid dryness. Oil is placed on the little finger and the inside of the nostrils are lightly coated. This procedure insures healthy nasal passages and proper absorption of prana. It also reduces respiratory allergies. When greater problems exist in the nasal passages or sinuses, medicinal teas can be used and neti can be performed two or three times per day.