6 min read

Excerpt from Healthy Happy Sexy

by Katie Silcox

Regular, nature-inspired routines are the body’s best medicine. When I say routine, you may think of a bored factory worker tediously repeating the same movements on the line, day after day. But far from being life-draining, Ayurveda’s daily to-do list affirms life by embracing the idea that routine asks us to remember the sacred. What would your life look like if every repetitive act were done as a prayer to inner and outer Divinity? If we are able to taste even the tiniest drop of the beautiful mystery of life as we brush our teeth or chop vegetables, we come close to heavenly bliss right here on Earth. Try doing the suggested routines in this chapter with a sense of the sacred, but do not feel guilty if you don’t get them right every day. In fact, it’s better to take a few of the suggestions and work with them until they become second nature, rather than trying to do everything at once, failing miserably, and sending yourself to guilty town.

Aligning with Daily Subtlety

It’s easy to get excited about a new program. You feel supported and ready to make changes. The same thing happens when we go on a great retreat or a workshop with an inspiring teacher. We feel juiced up and ready to make the changes that will bring us closer to our goals in life. But what happens? Over time, the bright fire burns out and we lose the momentum. We fall into the old routine because it is familiar and comfortable. A daily routine will keep your efforts consistent. Ayurvedic texts call daily routine a dinacharya. I’m giving you my version of this routine, tailored to a modern lady’s life. Print this baby up. Post it in your bathroom or on your fridge until practicing it becomes second nature!

Starting the Day with Love for Yourself

Your daily routine begins the night before: Getting in bed by 10:00 or 10:30 pm (or a little later in the summer) will help you start the morning off right.

  • Wake up at sunrise. If you are exhausted, sick, or elderly, please sleep as long as you like. Upon waking, do not get out of bed right away. Try to be aware of your body and feel grateful to be alive before your toes touch earth.
  • Drink warm lemon water. This helps to wash the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, flushes the kidneys, and stimulate peristalsis. If your digestion is sluggish, add ½ teaspoon gingerroot powder.
  • Nature calls. Going to the bathroom upon waking will help clear your digestive system. A healthy movement will have a soft brown log quality, little odor, and will be well formed (like a banana). Undigested food, foul odor, mucus, excessive dryness, or a pellet-like quality suggests digestive imbalance. Altering your diet and lifestyle and using herbs will help improve this. (More on getting the perfect poo on page 73.)
  • Gently scrape your tongue. Buy a stainless steel tongue scraper. Scrape from back to front 5–8 times. The tongue is a mirror of your intestines. When there is a thick white coating on the tongue, it is indicative that ama (toxins) is present. Tongue scraping helps prevent diseases of the oral cavity, improves our ability to taste, gets rids of old food debris, and prevents bad odor in the mouth.
  • Wash your face, mouth, teeth, and eyes.Splash your face with cool water. Wash the eyes with cool water or real-deal rose water. You can also buy an eye cup at most pharmacies for washing the eyes. Massage your gums with sesame oil. This improves oral hygiene, prevents bad breath, increases circulation to gums, heals bleeding gums, and helps us maintain strong, healthy teeth.
  • Use a neti pot. Add ½ teaspoon salt to warm water in the pot and drain through each nostril. Afterward, put 3–5 drops of warm sesame oil or ghee in the nostrils to lubricate the nose. This keeps the sinuses clean and improves vocal, visual, and mental clarity. Our nose is the door to the brain. Nose drops nourish our prana and enhance intelligence.
  • Abhyanga (self-massage) is one of our greatest allies for total health. It nourishes and soothes the nervous systems, stimulates lymphatic flow, and aids in detoxification. It also improves circulation, increases vitality, nourishes the skin, and promotes body/mind balance. See page 141 for full directions on self-massage. One of our greatest allies in moving toward balance, exercise boosts the immune system and is an excellent way to counteract depression. Exercise daily to half capacity. We want to get a little sweaty glow but not burn out before our day begins.
  • Bathe, using natural products.
  • Begin your day with some form of breath-work and meditation. See chapter 12 for how-to’s. Start with 5 minutes and work up to at least 20 minutes daily. I sometimes do my meditation before exercise. This is also fine.
  • Eat breakfast.

Lunch Routines

Try to make lunch your biggest meal of the day. Eat in a pleasant, calm place without distraction.

Take some time to bless the food prior to eating. After eating, if you can, lie down on your left side for 5–20 minutes. This is ideal. Why? Because it helps the digestive organs do their work to assimilate the meal. If you are at work, even just leaning to the left side in your chair will be helpful.

Afternoon/Early Evening Routines

One afternoon routine that helps you deeply relax into your evening is the practice of yoga nidra—a yogi nap. See the resources section for a recording from Para Yoga’s Rod Stryker. It’s also nice to do this prior to dinner, just before sunset.

Eat lightly at night. Having your last meal before sundown, and at least 3 hours before bedtime, will ensure better sleep. If you don’t feel hungry, drink one of my nighty-night tonics in the Kitchen Pharmacy appendix of this book.

Nighty-Night Routines

There is no excuse for us to not be sleeping. Women need sleep. Men need sleep. Everybody on the planet needs 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Just as we need to exercise, we also need to surrender into rest.

It is impossible to accomplish your goals if you are chronically sleep deprived. Plus, your mind and body use sleep as the washing machine for the subconscious mind. If we aren’t slipping into deep dreamtime every night, much of our toxic, unprocessed emotions and experiences don’t get drained away. As Dr. Robert Svoboda says, “Sleep is known as the wet nurse of society.” Raise your hand if you feel like you need to be wet-nursed.

Ayurveda offers an ideal way to transition from the activity of the day into the sacred chamber of sleep. Following these routines will make sleep come effortlessly, and will help keep you asleep through the night:

  1. Set the mood. Depending on the season (in the winter it may be earlier), start turning off overhead lights after dinner. Avoid fluorescent lights always, but especially at night. Low lighting helps tell your body it is time to go to sleep. Lots of light confuses your circadian rhythms and messes with the natural hormones that pull you into the “sleepy feeling.” One of the first questions I ask people who suffer from insomnia is, “Are your overhead lights still on at 8:00 and 9:00 pm?” Switch to low-level lighting or candles, or install dimmers on your overhead lights to set the mood for sleep.
  2. No more screen time. Set an intention to turn off all screens (computers, cellphones, TVs) by 8:00 or 9:00 pm. Experts state that when we are exposed to artificial lighting (such as from computer and smartphone screens), the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin is suppressed, making us feel more alert and changing our circadian rhythms.
  3. Be in bed by 10:00 pm. Have you ever noticed that you get a second wind around 10:30 pm? That’s because the metabolic energy your body normally uses for detoxing you while you sleep gets diverted to mental energy, and we get activated. Our body detoxifies and rejuvenates from 10:00 pm–2:00 am. When we stay up late, we truly do miss out on beauty sleep. If you currently go to bed at midnight, use the15-minute rule. Each night, try going to bed a mere 15 minutes earlier. Within a few weeks, you will be soundly sleeping at 10:00 pm.
  4. Take a warm bath. Taking a scented warm bath can help reset the nervous system toward sleep. Use oils such as frankincense, myrrh, lavender, honeysuckle, chamomile, neroli, or pure rose for deep slumber.
  5. Avoid too much mental stimulation. Don’t watch evening news. It’s toxic for your dreams. Similarly, avoid planning your future, having intense conversations, or any other activity that promotes mental movement before bed.
  6. Light a candle, read a sweet book that makes your heart melt, say some prayers, and turn in.
  7. Unravel the day. There is a powerful meditative practice for unraveling the day. It actually builds your power of assimilation and boosts memory. Once in bed and lying down, mentally go backward through your day in increments of 30 minutes. Try to simply register what was happening to you during the day without judgment. Notice your feelings, relax, and let all events go. End with the point where you woke up in the morning. Gently drift into sleep.

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