Did you know that your day doesn’t start when you wake up but before you go to bed? According to Anna Wiens, an instructor at Valley Natural Foods, following natural body rhythms is as crucial as what we eat. She uses Ayurveda, an ancient healing system of India, as the foundation to help people explore how to not only be aware of their natural body rhythms but how to embody this knowledge through simple integration techniques and tips.
Through this blog, we will travel throughout the healing world of Ayurveda as a tool to help you embody a healthy lifestyle. At Valley Natural Foods, we want to not only provide you with healthy options but give you the support you need to experience positive, lasting effects.
What really is Ayurveda? Wiens reveals that the word “Ayurveda” means “Signs of Life” and it uses five elements present in our bodies (water, fire, ether, air and earth) to help people transition through the day and seasons in a manner that best supports one’s health. Ayurveda is not a fad diet or treatment, but a lifestyle that incorporates the mind, body and spirit. While this definition may sound a bit elusive, the best way to learn Ayurveda is by trying. This is Wien’s philosophy too because for her it really is about incorporating little things into your everyday and then seeing a huge change, which motivates one to do more.
Here are Wien’s 5 basic tips for developing simple daily routines based upon natural body rhythms that are both practical and nourishing, supporting vitality and digestive health.
- Wake before 10am. During the morning, water and earth elements are present, providing us with the most endurance, stamina, energy and clarity of mind. If you sleep until noon or 11 a.m, you may feel drowsy and sluggish. In addition, doing vigorous activity is best before 10 a.m. as this is the time of day when your body can support the highest level of sustained activity. Moreover, if you actually wake before sunrise, this is even more beneficial as it allows time for our bodies to relax and prepare for the day through quiet contemplation, meditation, prayers or yoga.
- Drink Lemon Water. In Ayurveda, having a bowel movement 20 minutes after waking is a good sign of health. Drinking a glass of lemon water at room temperature prior to breakfast or morning coffee or tea is best to help eliminate toxins that accumulated during sleep. In addition, this process stimulates the appetite, preparing the body for breakfast.
- Eat Your Largest Meal Mid-Day. The sun is highest in the sky mid-day, meaning the fire element is present, which indicates that our digestion is strongest and our body is working most efficiently at this time. Although most people eat their main meal from 6-9 p.m. at night, our digestive track is slower during this period.
- Winding down between 6-10pm. During this time, our bodies act like a janitor, cleaning and purifying our organs. However, our bodies may skip parts of this purifying process if they focus upon digesting a large meal. Wiens indicates that chronic liver problems are common in our society, which in part may be due to lifestyle practices that inhibit our natural cleansing processes. Also, we should be preparing ourselves to go to bed by 10 p.m., as this is the time the body cleanses the liver. Turning off electronics before bed helps prevent stimulating the light, which is only present during the day. If you can, light candles, turn on low lighting or take a calm bath to prepare you for sleep.
- Use Base Oils to Stimulate Sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, one technique is to use base oils such as coconut or sesame to massage the feet or the whole body a half hour before bed. Wiens indicates that she has seen this simple practice drastically change how people sleep for the better.
Wiens hopes to show people how Ayurveda is not this huge dramatic system, but really about simple steps and if people implement them, they will change the way they live.
About Anna Wiens:
Anna Wiens is a yoga teacher and student of Ayurveda, with a focus on meditation and medicinal herbs at the Kripalu School of Ayurveda. Wiens is also and instructor.