Today, I’m sharing my Ayurvedic morning routine. Ayurveda means ‘the science of life’ and it’s one of the oldest holistic health sciences in the world (originated in India some 5000 years ago). This past year, I really dove into it and adopted an Ayurvedic morning routine.
Why do I have an Ayurvedic morning routine?
Ayurveda is one of the ‘tools’ I discuss in my book The Joy of Good Shit. As the title suggests, this book tells my story about depression, anxiety, and gut problems. At the beginning of 2020, (even before the sh*t hit the fan with corona and all) I was burned out and I had chronic gut problems. I was in Bali, but couldn’t enjoy it at all.
Diarrhea and constipation alternated every three days for about five months. I didn’t know what to eat anymore, because I seemed to suffer from everything. My belly was always swollen, it looked like I was three months pregnant. Apart from the fact that I had zero energy, I was also plagued by a very annyoing negative thought pattern.
Also, I had lots of inflammations on my skin. I kid you not, my whole forehead was covered in huge, painful bumps. As a thirty-six year old, I suddenly remembered what it was like to be a teenager – although now I also had some wrinkles.
I was so ashamed that I didn’t even dare to leave my house. I thought I was maybe using bad facial creams or sunblock.
End of February, I went back to the Netherlands. My friends (also yoga teachers) pointed out that my skin problems could be related to my intestinal problems. They told me more about Ayurveda, a healing science from India that has a close relationship with yoga.
In Ayurveda, it’s all about the digestive fire (agni). The gut is crucial for good health and a strong immune system. Our gut influences our brain, our mind, our emotions – our life. I was under the assumption that Ayurveda was some kind of vegetarian diet, but this wasn’t true at all. In fact, sometimes meat or fish is recommended.
One of the things Ayurveda focuses on, is the use of herbs and the right food combinations, to make food easier digestible. I learned that my diet was very heavy to digest and that I didn’t eat enough animal products (I’ll write a post – or a book – about this later).
Under the guise of ‘eat healthy and varied,’ I often used to pop all kinds of ingredients together in one dish: fruit, (unroasted) nuts, eggs, avocado, potatoes, raw vegetables. Sounds healthy, but if your body can’t absorb enough nutrients because your digestion is effed up, then it doesn’t do any good at all.
But something that’s just as important in Ayurveda, is the way you eat. I always ate in a hurry, like a hungry wolf I inhaled my food. I often waited too long to eat, so I was so hungry, that I stuffed everything within reach in my mouth. Ayurveda advises to eat calmly and mindfully and to chew well. Sounds reasonable and simple, doesn’t it? But it’s extremely difficult for many people, including myself.
So I tried some Ayurvedic recipes and practiced ‘mindful’ eating, and barely two weeks after, my skin cleared up. Inflammations reduced, my belly turned back to normal, and after five months of diarrhea, my poop returned back to normal as well. I was literally dancing next to the toilet. Hence the title of my book.
Thanks to Ayurveda, I was able to restore my health. And that’s no small miracle because I was quite ill. I also started my daily yoga practice again. This helped/helps me to reduce tension and stress, to increase self-acceptance and self-love, and to live more in the present moment.
Ayurvedic morning routine – perfect for a detox!
The great thing about this morning routine is that you can use it as a detox. Perfect for after the holidays! Don’t freak out, but Ayurveda recommends getting up before 6 AM. Before sunrise. I’m used to this myself because this is the best time to go surfing. Most days I don’t even use an alarm clock anymore, because I wake up automatically. Of course, I also go to bed around 10 PM.
There’s a reason why Ayurveda recommends getting up before 6 AM. What I’m about to say may sound a bit crazy, especially if you’ve never heard of Ayurveda. But according to Ayurveda, the day is divided into certain ‘dosha’ times. There are three dosha’s, or energies: vata, pitta, and kapha.
- Vata: 2.00 – 6.00 & 14.00 – 18.00
- Pitta: 10.00 – 14.00 & 22.00 – 2.00
- Kapha: 6.00 – 10.00 & 18.00 – 22.00
Every human being has these energies in him/herself too, each in different proportions. Vata is ‘active’, ‘air’, ‘movement’, ‘cold’ and ‘creativity’. Pitta is related to digestion and is ‘strong’, ‘hot’, and ‘fiery’. Kapha is ‘grounding’ and ‘stable’, but can also be related to ‘laziness’, ‘heavy’ and ‘slow’.
To wake up fresh and energized, Ayurveda advises not to get up in kapha-time but in vata-time. Before 6 o’clock. I know, I told you not to freak out! But I swear, once you get used to it, you don’t want anything else.
After waking up, there are some steps I take to start my day well and help out my precious digestion. I call this my Ayurvedic morning routine, but it’s not fully 100% (e.g. I don’t rinse out my nostrils with a neti pot yet).
Step 1: Brush your teeth and clean your tongue
After waking up, I brush my teeth and clean my tongue. At night, toxins, bacteria, and dead cells collect on your tongue, so it’s better to clean your tongue before you drink anything, so you don’t get those toxins back into your body. You can use a tongue scraper, but I don’t have one yet, I just use my toothbrush.
Step 2: Wash your face
I wash my face to also remove dead cells from my skin. I use Biodermal or Kiehl’s cleansing gel. After washing, I apply a serum. Right now I’m using the Booster from The Ordinary. Then I use a moisturizer, like Shea Butter. As a finish, I use a sunscreen SPF 30 or 50.
Then I put on makeup, but I don’t use much. Some days, I only use mascara. Other days, I put on some eyeliner, and if I look a bit pale or tired, I just use some red lipstick ON MY CHEEKS (OMGGG, really?!) to apply some color.
Step 3: Drink two glasses of water at room temperature
I drink two glasses of water at room temperature. When you drink cold water, your blood vessels tighten, which doesn’t help your digestion. It takes your body more energy to process the cold water. Your body wants to work as efficiently as possible, so room temperature seems easier.
Step 4: Meditate 10-20 minutes
I do this every day. I set my timer to twenty minutes, sit down, and transition into another world. Even when you’re ‘too busy’, I advise you to meditate. For a five-minute guided meditation, you can use my video.
Step 5: Breakfast with stewed apples and cinnamon
From an Ayurvedic perspective, stewed apple with cinnamon is one of the best breakfasts you can have. Raw apples are a bit harder to digest, especially if you eat them with the skin. Cooked apples are sweet, warm and soft, and digest easily. The cinnamon gives an extra boost to your digestion
Tip: Ayurveda recommends eating fruit separately, preferably in the morning, one hour before other meals, and also without yogurt or cornflakes.
Step 6: Eat mindfully
Mindful eating makes sure you don’t skip the first step of your digestive process, which starts in your mouth. I now chew so much that my stewed apples almost turn into apple juice before I swallow it.
Step 7: Oatmeal or something else
Now I prepare my oatmeal. Before I cook it, I let the oatmeal soak in water for about 24 hours so that the anti-nutrients (phytic acid) in the oatmeal break down. I eat my oatmeal without nuts or fruit. When it’s cooled off, I add some maple syrup.
And sometimes… I have a Cornetto for breakfast
Okay, this doesn’t happen very often, but the point is that you don’t have to stress out if you don’t manage to hold on to your Ayurvedic morning routine. The reality is that it sometimes changes. But if you have a good base and you know how to give yourself a detox in the morning, then you’re already halfway there.