Ayurvedic Self-Care for Yoga Teachers
By: Banyan Botanicals
Published: July 7, 2016
As a yoga teacher, you are constantly offering selfless service to others, and you give a lot of yourself every day. That’s a beautiful thing, and the world is better for it. But are you also taking time to replenish yourself along the way? Those of us oriented toward service often give effortlessly, but may have an underdeveloped capacity to receive. Proper self-care is largely about receiving and ultimately allows us to offer so much more of ourselves. But making time for nourishing self-care is not always easy—especially in our busy, Western culture, which is arguably obsessed with work and productivity.
Enter yoga’s sister science: Ayurveda, “the science of life,” an incredibly rich holistic tradition that, in Vedic times, would have been inseparable from the yogic tradition. When it comes to developing powerful self-care practices, Ayurveda has a great deal to offer us as yoga teachers.
The Power of Routine
Ayurveda emphasizes routine, and developing a regular routine is a potent antidote for our hectic, modern lives. A daily routine helps to reassure our bodies, minds and nervous systems that all is well, that we can be at ease. Moreover, delivering quality self-care on a daily basis is a profound and enduring act of self-love.
It is no coincidence that a traditional Ayurvedic routine is very heavily focused on the early-morning hours. Not only does it set a supportive tone for the entire day, but the early morning is naturally infused with stillness and tranquility, which makes it easier to access awareness, compassion and love within our own consciousness—increasing the potency of our practices. Morning is also the very best time to maintain a devoted commitment to self-care. Making time for ourselves later on is far more challenging logistically, and in truth, less likely to happen.
The simplest way to introduce a routine into your life is by bringing some regularity into those aspects of your day that naturally repeat themselves. For instance, you might commit to waking up and going to bed at the same times each day. It is highly recommended that one awaken during brahmamuhurta—the hours of the early morning before/around dawn. Prioritizing that would mean choosing a relatively early bedtime. You might also consider regularizing your meal schedule so that you are eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at consistent times each day. If you already have these aspects of a routine in place, or you simply want more, browse the suggestions below for more ideas.
Make It Your Own
One of the defining characteristics of Ayurveda is that it is incredibly individualized. There is no “one-size-fits-all.” Everything (including a daily routine) can be designed specifically to support you, your constitution and your current state of balance. Below are some suggestions to help you craft a simple daily routine; pick and choose what most appeals to you. Remember, less is generally more. The idea is to introduce only those practices that you truly feel you can commit to on a daily basis.
As a yoga teacher, you know how important it is to support the pathways of detoxification in the body, which is precisely what the following Ayurvedic practices do.
Tongue Cleaning. Most people who use a tongue cleaner regularly consider it as indispensable as a toothbrush. Cleaning the tongue upon waking improves oral hygiene by removing bacteria and toxins that have accumulated on the tongue overnight (far more effectively than a toothbrush can). But the tongue is also connected to many vital organs throughout the body, and scraping the tongue daily is said gently stimulate and cleanse each of them.
Drinking Warm Water. After you have scraped your tongue and brushed your teeth, consider drinking 1–4 cups of warm water to cleanse the digestive tract, hydrate the tissues, and awaken the digestive fire. Wait twenty to thirty minutes before eating to allow the water to clear the stomach.
Oil Pulling. Oil pulling is the practice of swishing about a tablespoon of oil for up to twenty minutes. The oil helps to loosen and remove plaque and microorganisms from the teeth and gums while soothing and nourishing these delicate tissues. You can use plain organic Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, or an herbal oil designed for oil pulling, such as Daily Swish.
Align with Self
Because the early morning is such a tranquil time of day, it is an ideal time to cultivate a relationship with your inner self through any number of mindfulness practices, including yoga and meditation. The practice of pranayama is a powerful means of clearing and balancing both physical and energetic channels in the body. While morning is an ideal time for these types of practices, they are beneficial at any time of day.
Your Unique Path
Self-care is an intimately personal affair, and Ayurveda recommends tailoring your routine to meet your unique needs. For more guidance, please peruse our Daily Routine Department, where you can customize your routine according to which doshas need the most support. The most important thing is to know that self-care not only serves you, but also those you serve. Relish in taking some focused time for yourself every day; you are so worth it.
About Banyan Botanicals:
Banyan Botanicals was founded in 1996 with the mission to help people achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. As an Ayurvedic lifestyle company, we specialize in products made from Ayurvedic herbs that are organically grown, sustainably sourced, fairly traded, and made in the USA. Banyan is committed to providing exceptional customer service, inspiring educational content and the highest quality Ayurvedic herbs that are safe, pure, and effective.
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This article was written by Banyan Botanicals and does not necessarily reflect the views of Yoga Alliance.