Always Well Within

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3 Healthy Routines for a More Balanced Life

3 Self Care Routines for More Balance

Greeting the sun, Big Island, Hawaii.

Many people are convinced that they have no time to allot to creating and following good habits.  My teacher Vimalananda used to say, ‘Westerners wear their gods on their wrists.’  By this he meant that we allow an artificial, arrhythmic version of time to regulate our lives.  All organisms require rhythm for proper functioning, but most of us ignore the natural internal and external rhythms that secretly influence us.  We try instead to create our own, unnatural time.  Our dedication to arbitrary schedules robs us of our natural rhythms and weakens our ability to adapt to stresses.  Fortunately, introducing additional routine into our lives can regenerate these rhythms.  The human organism loves routine and thrives when it is fed, exercised and rested regularly. – Dr. Robert E. Svoboda

Most of us follow the clock with little thought given to our own body rhythm and how it aligns with the daily cycle of nature.  In fact, your personal rhythm may be radically distorted so you have no clue what would actually be natural and normal for you.

The Benefits of Daily Routines Rooted in Nature

You can tell you’re off-balance if you find it hard to wake up in the morning, your energy dips in the afternoon, or you’re suddenly alert at bedtime.  Irregular elimination and digestive woes also signal a body out of whack.  Popping pills might bring short term relief, but it won’t necessarily address the root of the problem.

Creating a healthy daily routine and tapping into the natural rhythms of nature can harmonize your bodily functions and bring balance to your life. For example, routines rooted in the patterns of nature can help you reset and regularize your body clock, aid your digestive and eliminative functions, build your resilience to stress, extend your longevity, and bring a greater sense of inner calm.

Daily Routines from Ayurveda

Recently, I’ve been following selected Ayurvedic principles to improve my health. Ayurveda is the classic 5,000 year old medicine of India, which is now followed by people all around the world.

There’s a substantial list of recommended daily routines, but some are already on your program like brushing your teeth.  I’ve got that one set in stone!

Some aspects of these routines may vary depending on your mind-body type or current dysfunction. Ayurveda works with the idea of three main constitutions (doshas): Vata, Pitta, Kapha, which combine to form your unique being.  For example, I’m a Vata-Pitta.

You can get an idea of your dominant mind-body type by using one of the many online tests like this dosha quiz at the Chopra Center or this one from Yoga Journal.

Naturally, a quiz like this is limited.  I personally feel it’s best to work with an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine your body type, especially because current dysfunctions may obscure it or require a different treatment.

I’ve started with just three new routines because I know it’s important for me to refrain from overwhelm.  These routines are generally recommended for everyone, however you should always consult with your physician before beginning any new practice.

Self-Care Practices | Ayurveda

These are the three Ayurvedic principles, I’m gradually putting into place.

1.  Rise Before Sunrise

When you rise before sunrise, you naturally align your body to the rhythms of the sun.  You’re able to tune into the peaceful qualities that abide in the pre-dawn hours, a time when it’s easier to wake up.

The energies of the day become heavier after sunrise. As a result, you’re likely to feel groggy and find it harder to wake up after sunrise.

Traditionally, Hawaiians also woke before sunrise to greet the sun at the start of the day, according to Kahuna Harry Uhane Jim who recently took the photo above at Ahalanui Park.  I’m a big fan of this naturally heated pond, which sits adjacent to the ocean.  The temperature changes from day-to-day, but some days you feel like you’re stepping into a warm bathtub.

Dawn is the perfect time to recognize and feel grateful for the miracle of a new day ahead as well, which itself will brighten your life.

When I go to bed at the right time for my constitution, I naturally wake around sunrise.  It takes discipline to get in bed by 10 pm.  I never fall asleep right away, but at least I’m allowing my body to begin to rest.  I think it will be easier to fall asleep as I become more balanced through using these routines.

Note:  The time after waking is usually spent on self-care and practices like meditation and yoga rather than rushing into work early, checking your email or phone messages, or other types of busy activity.

2.  Self-Massage with Warm Oil

Self-massage with warm oil moisturizes the skin, stimulates detoxification, increases circulation, and calms the nervous system.

I do a 10-minute self-massage from my toes to my face, using warm oil.  I let the oil seep in for 10 -20 minutes and then shower.  Be careful so you don’t slip in the shower.  I don’t massage my scalp with oil everyday, although I know that would very be good.

Since I’m almost always cold, I use a warming oil like almond or sesame, which is good for Vata types.  If you tend to be hot, you can use a cooling oil like coconut or sunflower, ideal for Pitta types.  Safflower is recommended for kaphas. Jojoba can be used for all types.

Check out these step-by-step instructions for Ayurvedic self-massage including a short video.  Frequency of self-massage, which depends upon your constitution, is explained in these instructions.

3.  Follow Regular Mealtimes

Eat at the same time, more or less each day.  Eat your heaviest meal around noon when your digestion is at its peak.  Eat lighter meals in the morning and the early evening.  If possible, don’t eat after sunset.

Ayurveda recommends eating with the seasons as well.  Eat lighter meals during hot periods of the year and more substantial food during cold periods.

Your actual diet will depend on your constitution and the interplay of any dysfunctions.  The number of meals you eat each day also depends upon your constitutional type.

I used to eat 3 same-sized meals a day.  It feels better to eat lightly in the morning and early evening times.  Eating early in the evening allows more time for your body to complete digestion and regenerate itself during the night.

I’m sure you know what it feels like to try to sleep with a full stomach.  Ugh!  That’s a good indication that eating late at night is not ideal at all.

Empower Yourself with Nourishing Daily Routines

I’m applying these three routines regularly but without become rigid about them, which would only increase pressure and stress and thus be counter-productive.

I find waking up at sunset the hardest one!  I wake up but tend to fall back asleep.  I definitely feel more sluggish when I finally wake up.  I know with time and practice, this positive habit will slowly stick just like the other ones.

I find it empowering to take control of my health instead of feeling like a victim of circumstances and plugging along with low energy and pesky symptoms. Following healthy routines like these improves my self-esteem, cultivates my sense of self-sovereignty, and creates a feeling of balance in my life.

I could have suggested other Ayurvedic routines, but I think these three can be so fundamental to how you live and whether you thrive.  They could be a good place to begin if you would like to experiment with bringing more balance into your life.

[Note:  I’m not a medical doctor, Ayurvedic practitioner, or psychotherapist.  Always consult with your health care provider before trying new routines.]

P. S. 21 Ways to Eliminate Stress from Your Life

Thank you for reading!  I appreciate your presence.  Have you signed up for my monthly note – Wild Arisings – yet?  Learn more and join here – you’ll get free goodies too like my 50-page e-book, 21 Simple Stress Tips.  May you be well, happy, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

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19 Comments

  1. Fascinating thoughts Sandra. I have the hardest time getting myself to bed at a decent time. Like the pathway to hell, I’m full of good intentions. And this has been on my mind of late. I read recently that the more sleep you can get before 11pm the better your body likes it. I have no idea if this is true or not, but it seems something worth trying.

    Thanks for sharing some of your techniques and may they bless you with health and harmony.

    • Interesting, Elle! I know if I stay up past 10 pm, I get a second wind and feel more awake for a few hours. Then it’s hard to falls asleep. I wonder if that’s what’s happening for you. I think it’s true that the sleep you get earlier in the night is especially nourishing for your body.

      I’m still working on this one so we can work on it together! Thanks for your positive wishes.

  2. Hi Sandra,

    Dropping by to let you know that I feel joyful to receive your newsletters and enjoy reading your articles. Thanks.

  3. I have the same problem—getting to bed at a decent hour! I get 7 hours of sleep and do not seem to need more (most of the time) but do wish I could actually get a handle on this one. I eat really well and am pretty good about exercise, but the bedtime thing is where I fall short. But I am going to keep intending and reminding myself of the intention! 🙂

    • Good luck, Jean! We’re all different so 7 hours of sleep may be perfect for you. I find I don’t need as much sleep as others, but I sometimes like to take a nap in the afternoon. I just know if I stay up past 10 pm, I get a second wind and then it’s really hard to get to sleep. I’m sure this will come to pass with your clear intention and time.

  4. Interesting Sandra, I have my morning routines that make my day sing. I am usually awake before sunrise, except maybe on Sundays. Sandra i also often get a second wind after 10pm and find I still wake early- think I am going for Nonna naps or an afternoon meditation. Today in meditation I was being called to restart my TM practice. I am interested in your Avuveda journey as recently I have started to eat less raw food and my system is functioning much better, love Suzie xx

    • Hi Suzie,

      You seem to know yourself well and have a good flow going! I love afternoon naps myself. I don’t tolerate raw food myself. I think we’re all different that way and it’s interesting to see you feel your system is functioning better without. I think this can change overtime as well. Raw food might work for awhile for some types, but maybe not on an extended basis. I’m glad you’re tuning in to see what works best for you and I’m so inspired by your morning routine.

  5. Sandra,

    I think this is great overall advice, but do you think it is really best for everyone?

    For instance, I stay up late and never get up before the sun – if I can help it. I naturally wake up, without the aid of an alarm clock and with the aid of cats, around 7:00 AM. I eat when I’m hungry, not at a preset time. If anything dictates my eating schedule, it’s yoga. Believe me, you don’t want to take a hot yoga class on a full stomach!

    I exercise or do yoga every day, meditate daily, and am very disciplined in getting my work done and in my nap taking…and I feel great. I do what works for me and my body. I think that’s key.

    • Hi Debbie,

      I don’t know! There’s probably nothing that is really best for everyone and there are periods of life when we need more sleep. I know these routines are generally recommended in Ayurveda, but actual time to bed may vary according to your constitution. You would have to talk to an Ayurvedic practitioner or physician to see what they would recommend for you.

      I’m glad you are in your own flow and have found what works for you. If you feel good, then no need to change, of course. But maybe some people feel out of sorts and adapting regular routines like this might help them feel more balanced.

      I was curious what Ayurveda would say about night owls and I found this: “Difficulty falling asleep is the classic pitta-type sleep disorder because pitta is elevated in the mind and in the atmosphere from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. This can activate the mind, stimulate ambition, and can completely overwhelm any desire to sleep. As a result, many pitta-types are night owls and can be incredibly productive at night.” You can read more here if you are interested: http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/health-guides/an-ayurvedic-guide-to-balanced-sleep/

      I’m not sure that means they recommend staying up at night or not! But they have more information and links there if you’re curious. But if you’re satisfied with your approach, then you’re all set. Also, I’m not an Ayurvedic practitioner so I don’t know what’s best for each individual.

  6. Thanks for sharing, Sandra. Enjoyed this post – not sure about the ayurvedic principles at work here but i have adopted a couple of the practices you mentioned. It’s much easier for me to wake up before sunrise during the spring and summer months so looking forward to those seasons soon where there is more light as well during the day. And while I don’t eat different sized meals – I can make the switch to the heavier meal during lunch and the lighter one during dinner. When I used to do that, I remember feeling a lot better physically.

    • Hi Vishnu,

      Wonderful that you know from your own experience what makes you feel better physically. Enjoy those light-filled months and the extra time to play!

  7. I’m definitely someone who is ruled by the clock – and sometimes other people’s priorities! I’m still working on how much is the ‘right’ amount of sleep for me, so I’m still playing with my bedtimes and awakening times. A work in progress 🙂

    • Thanks for being so honest and open about that, Ellen. I think you’ve picked a good place to start – tuning into how much you really need to sleep and setting rising and sleeping times that work for you. Good luck!

  8. I was surprised to find when I took the dosha quiz that I am tri-doshic in balance with a tad more pitta because a few years ago when my health was not as good when I took the quiz I was Pitta-Kapha. Apparently following the principles you’ve mentioned and other healthy habits the past few years are serving me well and I am in balance! For me it is difficult to eat my final meal before the sun sets due to my work schedule as a therapist seeing clients into the evening but the early to bed early to rise makes all the difference. Great article Sandra!

    • That’s fascinating, Lynn. Although our constitution doesn’t change, the presenting factors can make it seem a particular way that is actually do to symptoms. It’s great to see that a healthy life style has made such a positive difference for you!

  9. Great tips! I especially like “rise before sunrise” but all great ideas.
    Thanks for the inspiration, Sandra!

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