Ayurveda, the ancient system of natural medicine that originated in India over 5000 years ago, is a both a lifestyle and a journey of which rituals are an integral part. One of the elements that defines a ritual is an element of timeliness and repetition, like having a morning mantra or an afternoon meditation.
Another is that it’s a pleasurable activity for you, a time you want to create space for in the day. If you enjoy it, you’re less likely to deprioritize.
Within Ayurvedic philosophy, rituals are very important to our individual health, with practices like waking up before sunrise, morning exercise, eating breakfast before 8:00AM, lunch before noon and dinner before sunset.
While not all rituals will work within your own life, it’s important — especially as we navigate through new times — that we create some sort of ritual in our day to help us feel grounded. Below are some simple suggestions of how you can incorporate ritual into your daily schedule to relieve restlessness and improve sleep.
Meditation and Pranayama
Breathing exercises, termed pranayama within yoga, rapidly help create balance within the mind and body. Just as in Yoga, there are various kinds of pranayama techniques, and for anxiety a practice of “alternate nostril breathing” is recommended.
Just as it sounds, use your thumb to close one of your nasal passages while inhaling and exhaling deeply from the other, exercising deep, slow breathing. Repeat on the other side.
Within Ayurveda, poor or disturbed sleep is believed to be caused by an imbalance of vata, and foods that normalize the vata element in the body are encouraged.
Some of the encouraged foods include avocado, bananas, berries, coconut, cooked vegetables, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini, oats (cooked), rice and wheat.
Foods such as dried fruits, apples, cranberries, pears, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, potatoes, barley, buckwheat and corn aggravate the vata element and should be avoided.
Ayurveda and Yoga are often considered sister sciences in part because of their focus on holistic equilibrium of the mind and body.
Yoga, and specific asanas within its practice, can have a powerful impact on helping promote a restful night of sleep. Shoulder stand, Cobra, Half Bow are particularly recommended.
In addition, Backward bends, headstands and plough poses are also very helpful for those that can integrate these slightly more advanced asanas in their practice.
Ayurveda integrates the use of many natural herbs and “kitchen” remedies to manage anxiety and its symptoms. Specifically, topical application and inhalation of essential oils such as Vetiver, Roman Chamomile, Jasmine and Lavender can have rapid and lasting impact on the elimination of anxiety.
You can try Uma’s Pure Calm blend that integrates all of these oils in a generations-old tried and true formula for an overactive mind that keeps you from falling asleep, or UMA Pure Rest Wellness Oil if you keep waking up at night.
In addition, try drinking a cup of milk with almonds, saffron & honey or Orange juice with honey & pinch of nutmeg powder will have a powerful impact on helping you rest through the night.