Create your Vata morning routine in Autumn/Early Winter
by Eva Dusch
Having a rhythm to centre your day around brings much-needed support for the mind and body. Especially in this Vata time of year, when our nervous system and immunity tend to be more vulnerable. It all starts with a steady morning routine to help you feel calm and grounded throughout the day.
1. Wake up early
Preferably before sunrise. This means 6AM or even a bit earlier to give the body a chance to harmonize with the rhythms of the day. This is also the Vata-time of day when there are loving (sattvic) qualities in nature that bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses. In the beginning it might feel unbearable to do this, but notice the difference it can make only 30 minutes after waking (so fresh!) and even through your whole day. Right after waking, look at your hands for a few moments, then gently move them over your face and chest down to the waist. This cleanses the aura.
What goes in, must come out. Right? Urinating and evacuating upon rising is a sign of good Agni (digestion) and so good health. There should be a natural urge. Improper digestion of the previous night's meal or lack of sound sleep can prevent this. However, drinking a cup of hot water first thing in the morning and sitting on the toilet at a set time each day, helps to regulate bowel movements. No bowel movement? A golden tip from our teacher Victoria Raven Hyndman: hold Achala Agni Mudra to stimulate the fire element. Otherwise try some hot water with ghee or alternate nostril breathing.
3. Clean the sensory organs
Washing our face in the morning is something we’re very familiar with. But Ayurveda it’s not only about washing the sleep out of your eyes, but cleansing and waking all of the senses. Which means: eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Tongue scraping raises quizzical eyebrows with many, but once you do it (and know why) you probably never want to go back. It helps to remove bacteria and ama (undigested food), stimulates your internal organs and improves your sense of taste.
Another technique is oil pulling. It involves swishing oil, preferably sesame, around your gums and teeth for a few minutes each morning. It helps in removing toxins and parasites, which reside in the nooks and crannies between teeth, around the tongue, and in the gums.
To cleanse the eyes take some water into the mouth and keep it there, while also cleansing the eyes with cold water. This will cleanse, wake up and nourish the eyes from inside and outside.
4. Drink warm water
The first drink of the day is called ‘Sarvopaghata Shamaniyam’ and is something to be very aware of, says Ayurvedic physician and Delight teacher Dr. Vijith Sasidhar. Your digestive system is very sensitive and receptive this early and absorbs the first thing immediately and very deeply. Drinking warm water upon rising helps to wake up the body and senses and stimulates the kidneys and bowel movement. Also, according to the Vedic texts it will make you live healthy for 100 years. Drink two cups of hot or room temperature water, with lemon to increase alkalinity, if desired. Sometimes it can also be taken with Ghee, when feeling constipated or with excess Vata.
5. Nasal drops & Abhyanga
Vata means oil is the holy grail. It’s one of your best compagnons to keep you healthy and happy. That’s why the ancient practice of abhyanga (self oleation) is so important this season. It calms the nervous system, lubricates and rejuvenates the tissues, and promotes healthy circulation throughout the body. Use warm sesame oil (make sure it’s the untoasted one!), leave it on for ideally 15-30 minutes and then take a shower. This way it gets deeply absorbed into all the bodily tissues. Not much time? Only apply on lower back, feet, ears, crown and shower straight after.
Oiling your nostrils, wait what? It may seem strange to put oil up your nose, but this practice (nasya) will pacify vata dosha. It nourishes, lubricates and cleanses the nostril passages. The oil will be absorbed nourishing the brain (bringing prana) and sensory organs. It can even stimulate the pinery gland (third eye). It also works well for neck pain, stiff shoulders and jaw tension.
Administer it on an empty stomach an hour before or after a shower or exercise. Lie down with the head tilted back and put 2-5 drops of nasya in each nostril or put the oil first on your pinky finger and then apply. Sniff deeply, then remain lying for a minute or so, to allow the nasya to penetrate. If some oil runs into the throat, spit it out.
Bathing is cleansing and refreshing. It removes sweat, dirt, and fatigue, brings energy to the body, clarity to the mind and holiness to your life. It’s best to use warm water for the body and colder water for the head. Only use soap if necessary.
7. Gentle movement
You may already have a morning practice that speaks to you. If not, you might consider starting your day with some gentle exercise that emphasizes grounding and stretching. The purpose is to slowly wake up the body while keeping the mind and senses serene and settled. Exercise for 20 minutes breathing through your nose (yoga, walk, qi gong) to awaken the inner fire or yang energy. Or hit two birds with one stone by joining our Hatha & Pranayama classes (see next step). Check our live schedule or video library.
One of the best ways to balance Vata is through conscious breathing such as Ujjayi breath, Bhramari or Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). Simply sitting quietly and breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes can also help to calm and quiet the mind before the day kicks off. We offer different pranayama classes via zoom.
The sun doesn’t rise with a flip of a switch and so we shouldn’t expect so either. The transition from night into day is very important, as this is the time when Vata energy is the highest. Meditate for 10 minutes if you can, even if it's a silent sit with a cup of hot ginger tea in your hands. At Delight every morning we will gather together for a Silent Morning Meditation. These meditation sessions will consist of two parts - the first 15 minutes will be guided and the remaining 30 minutes we will be together in silence.
10. Time to break the fast
Complete your routine with a light, warm and nutritious breakfast. It’s incredibly stabilizing, especially in the Vata season. One of the best options is stewed apples with spices like cinnamon and kardemom and a drop of ghee. Or how about some oatmeal with soaked raisins, spices, toasted seeds and ghee. One of Ayurveda's first and most important nutrition ‘rules’ is to eat fresh fruits separately from any other food, especially dairy and cereal products. Wait at least half an hour before you eat anything else and - again - make sure it’s warm.
It’s when we look beyond the gross outer layers of life that we find our way to the more subtle layers that can shift your whole being and perspective on life. That’s how it felt when Eva encountered the path of Ayurveda. After years of practising yoga and meditation, it was the cherry on the cake. The foundation she was looking for, that connects everything. No matter where you go. After working for years as a writer and freelance journalist, she took a big break in 2016 to travel the world. She went to all corners of the planet, living in New Zealand and South America for a while. As unstable and challenging the circumstances sometimes were, it was through yoga and Ayurveda that she found stability, balance, and inner peace. Something she brought back home with her when she returned to Amsterdam in the spring of 2019. That same year, she started her journey with the Delight Academy to deepen her knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda. Her motivation to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner is to help people reconnect with their bodies and inner knowing again. Encouraging them to take their health into their own hands, using nutrition, awareness, and balance as tools. She believes in conscious, healthy, and joyful living inspired by the beauty and depth of Ayurvedic wisdom and holistic philosophies. Photo credit: Kiki Reijners