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Ayurvedic Cleansing and Nourishing Rituals for Spring

I’ll admit, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a week since we started practicing social distancing here in DC. We’re settling into a new normal around my house – Shaun working from home more, moving friend dates to virtual, and making sure to get some daily walks in. It’s so incredibly helpful to have an infant in the house who has no idea what COVID is. It definitely helps me stay sane and keep perspective. Each day I discover more people and industries that are impacted by this virus, from the service industry and dentists to public transit systems and events, to farmer’s markets and real estate. Sending love and and calm and health to all of you.

Thursday was the Spring Equinox and this weekend many cultures celebrate the beginning of a new year. It’s traditional in Ayurveda to do a cleanse of some sort during these seasonal transitions. Times of transition increase (and potentially aggravate) Vata dosha, our most delicate of the doshas, and the cleansing allows us retreat and ground. Also, having periods when we regularly step away from our normal routine to cleanse mentally and physically can keep us from getting stuck in the same old routines and patterns season after season.

You might be finding yourself with a little more time on your hands, without the buzz of activities , errands, and social gatherings. Rather than spending that extra time reading the news (which I know we could do ad infinitum), consider trying out some of the Ayurvedic cleansing and other nourishing rituals I’ve listed below. They’ll help you to reset your brain and body if you’ve felt a little stuck and scared during this transition time.

For me, my weekend ritual is including a hair cut (I do my own…!) and hair mask, abhyanga with extended meditation time, neti pot, vinyasa and yin yoga practices, and hopefully a vision board.

P.S., My livestream yoga and meditation sessions are continuing! Next week’s schedule is listed below. And while it’s always lovely to have you there live, I’ve been uploading the recordings to my website/YouTube so you can practice later. Check out the videos and practice with me here.

Ayurvedic Self Care To Pass the Time:

Neti Pot

It’s the perfect time to get out your neti pot because it clears out the nasal passages. It takes a little time to get used to pouring water up your nose, but once you start practicing it regularly, you’ll realize how good it makes you feel. 

Directions:

  • Boil water and let it cool or use sterilized/distilled water. 
  • Fill your neti pot with water and add ¼ tsp neti salt (not regular salt), stirring with a clean spoon.
  • Place the neti pot up to one nostril and tip your head to the side, allowing the water to drain out the opposite nostril. If you’re not getting any water coming through, tip the head forward or back to see if that helps create a stream.
  • Once you’ve drained the neti pot, refill and pour the opposite direction.
  • Blow your nose in between sides to clear excess mucus.

Abhyanga

This is an oil-based massage you can give yourself before your shower. The oil moves toxins from the internal organs to the skin to be washed away, you get the positive stimulation to the blood and lymph through the massage, and you’ll never have dry skin again! 

Directions:

  • Choose an oil based on your doshasesame oil for vata, sesame or almond oil for kapha, and coconut oil for pitta. Make sure this oil is cold-pressed (unrefined) and organic. Your skin will be soaking this up!

  • In the bathroom, with a towel underneath you if you’re worried about spilling or staining, undress and take about 2 tbsp oil in your hands.

  • Rub your hands together to to warm the oil, and rub the oil on your body in the following sequence:

    • Scalp: rub some of the oil into your scalp, making circles all around your skull (note: this is optional for your daily abhyanga, especially if this will really mess with your hair. Feel free to do the massage *without* oil, because head rubs feel so good).

    • Arms: rub the oil up your arms, using long strokes towards your heart. Make circles around your elbows and shoulder joints.

    • Chest and back: rub oil into your chest and back, again rubbing oil towards your heart.

    • Belly: Rub oil up the right side of your abdomen, across the top, and down the left, making circles in this clockwise motion.

    • Buttocks: Don’t forget to give some love to the hips and butt.

    • Legs: rub the oil up your legs, using long strokes towards your heart. Make circles around your knee and ankle joints.

 

The massage takes about 3-5 minutes total. For deepest cleansing benefits, let the oil soak in for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can hop right into the shower.

Note: if you have super oily skin or have very high kapha dosha, you might want to skip the oil massage and use a dry brush instead!

 

Scalp Massage and Mask

If you want some super soft hair and to relief all of the stress from your body, go for a scalp massage and hair mask. We don’t think about the tension that can be held underneath our hair, but it’s there!

Directions:

  • Use 1 tbsp oil based on your dosha and your fingers to scrub your scalp. It gets a little messy with the oil, but spend some time massaging your scalp to release tension.
  • Then, apply more of the oil to the ends of your hair. You can put your hair up in a bun if it’s long enough or just let it hang out for 30-45 minutes.
  • Rinse out the oil in the shower. Your hair WILL feel greasy for a day, but that’s why it’s so nice to do this when we’re stuck at home!

If you want to go full Ayurveda, I found this tutorial for a fenugreek coconut hair mask for extra softening and dandruff fighting power. I haven’t tried this, but I’m planning to soon!

 

Meditation

One of the best ways to cleanse our minds is to take time where our focus turns inward. If you don’t meditate regularly, perhaps you commit to sitting quietly for 5 minutes. If you are a regular meditator, you might choose to meditate for longer than you get to on most days to see how that feels.

If you prefer a guided meditation, I’ll suggest checking out my meditations on Insight Timer or one of my recent video meditations.

 

Mindful Movement

In yogic philosophy, we believe that there are layers to the body, known as the koshas. Our most outer layer is our physical body, the muscles and bones and connective tissue. One layer in is our energetic body, which is moved by the breath. Underneath that is the mind body, the emotional body, and finally the bliss body. Because these layers are encased inside on another, rather like Russian dolls or the layers of an onion, when we move the outer layers, we are also creating movements and changes in the inner layers of the body. When we move the physical body, we move the breath, shape the mind, change our emotions, and access the bliss body at it’s deepest layers.

Take time to move mindfully this weekend, whether it’s a walk, a run, a bike ride, or a yoga practice. Get rid of the music, and maybe even practice this movement alone. Feel and notice your body and breath changing with your movements. Know that you are shaping your body on it’s deepest level.

To get into the deep layers of the body, consider doing one of the 30-minute yin practices I uploaded to YouTube. Access the yin practices (as well as a vinyasa practice and mindful meditations) here.

 

Journal Reflection

There is something about writing down your thoughts, reflections, and dreams that is different than simply thinking or talking about it. Some journaling reflections you might do this weekend:

  • Tim Ferriss’ Past Year Review: Create 2 columns: “positive” and “negative”. Look at last year’s calendar, and write down the people, activities, and commitments that generate positive or negative feelings as you think about them. Then, narrow down your list to the most positive or most negative (you’re aiming to have a list of 5-8 in your “most” category). Commit to doing more of your most positives. Commit to reducing your most negatives.
  • 3 minute stream of consciousness writing. Set a timer and write for 3 minutes, no matter what comes out. Just keep writing. (thanks Gretchen for the tip on this one!)

 

Vision Board

There’s no better way to generate positive feelings and hope for the future than a vision board.

  • Gather up a large sheet of paper, glue, scissors, and old magazines.
  • Go through the magazines and tear out any photos or words that express things you’d like to see in your life. No need to edit or question, just take out everything that speaks to you.
  • Then, sort through your photos and words, arranging them on your sheet of paper and thinking about how it fits together.
  • When you have a design that you like, glue the photos and words down to create your board.
  • Place your vision board somewhere you will see it regularly.

 

Make a One Page Zine!

If you want to get creative, use Austin Kleon’s directions to make a one page zine.

 

  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,   samantha attard sig

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