Each week from July 10 - August 14, we will be sharing a new post from a 6-part series about Ayurvedic practices and TBI. Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic health systems. Our contributor, Bethany Cantin, is an ayurvedic practitioner and yoga therapist, who has integrated ayurvedic practices into her life and has found these to be essential throughout her healing journey following a TBI.
In ayurveda it is believed that maintaining consistent daily routines, called dinacharya, is the springboard to optimal health. This ancient, time tested idea came from observing the cyclical rhythms found in the universe. Just as the moon orbits around the earth every 28 days and the earth revolves around the sun every 24 hours, our bodies also have similar cyclical rhythms that, if supported and respected, can have a profound effect on our overall health and well being.
To truly get in the groove with Mother Nature, try some of these daily routines. Be sure to slowly introduce these practices, perhaps one or two at a time, starting with the ones you are most drawn to and then adding others along the way.
Wake up just before sunrise to give the body a chance to harmonize with the rhythms of the day. This is the most satvic (pure, clear, light, spiritual) time of day and is the best time of day for meditation and yoga.
Drink a cup of warm water with a squeeze of lemon first thing in the morning to awaken and cleanse the digestive tract and organs. Drinking ample water continuously throughout the day supports the brain in functioning optimally.
Use a tongue scraper gently each morning to remove bacteria, stimulate your internal organs and improve your sense of taste.
Splash the eyes with cool water upon waking to soothe and cool over worked eyes, which tend to store a great deal of heat.
Practice a daily warm oil massage, called abhyanga, to nurture your skin, release toxins and soothe the nervous system (see instructions for Abhyanga in next week’s post!)
Create reliable, rhythmic, consistent meal times to support optimal health. Digestive strength can change dramatically after a TBI, especially if you have gone from a very active lifestyle to one more sedentary. This daily routine will support stronger digestion. In ayurveda we say “you are not what you eat, you are what you digest”.
Eat breakfast between 6-8am. Breakfast is “ breaking a fast” from the night before, and it should be a medium sized, nutrient rich meal like oatmeal, eggs or a green protein smoothie.
Eat lunch between 11am-1pm. Lunch should be your largest meal of the day and should be eaten when the sun is highest and strongest in the sky, as this is when your own inner sun, your digestive juices, are at their peak strength.
Eat Supper between 5-7pm. Supper should be your smallest meal of the day. The word supper comes from the word ““supplement” and it should be something small enough to digest before you go to sleep. Ideally eating dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime. If the body is not busy digesting a big meal while you are sleeping, it can use all of its good energy to work on removing toxins and healing your brain.
Try to get to sleep before 10pm, as this promotes the deepest sleep and guarantees that you’ll have adequate rest if you are to awaken with the sunrise.
Practice meditation, yoga and pranayama each day. Note that 15 minutes a day can be more beneficial than one class a week. Let the rhythm of going inward be a daily ritual that your body, mind, and spirit can count on.