Welcome to a new dawn
+ all about ritual
All over the world, our ancestors participated in ritual and ceremony. Pre-religion, this is how communities would gather and celebrate the ups and downs of life. These ceremonies are how individuals would care for themselves, each-other and their connection to the divine. Coming together to honour the change in seasons, moon cycles, conception of children, births, deaths and sacred union were how we cared for each other, and the planet. As we move into a new paradigm and way of relating to ourselves as spiritual beings, recognising that in one other and realising our connection to nature these daily rituals return us to our natural rhythm and give our lives meaning and purpose. This is how we make the daily, divine.
Yes, that’s right we are starting this sacred conversation about daily rituals with an aspect of life that is typically not considered to be particularly spiritual, poo. There are a couple of reasons why we are starting here. Firstly, I’m sure you’ve had at least one wee or poo that has felt like a spiritual experience. The Relief. Another reason we are starting here, is because embracing our human need to eliminate waste from our physical bodies is part of a bigger conversation we need to have. It’s about embracing the body and our human-ness as divine. To dissolve the idea that spirituality is “up there” and beyond the body. No, spirit is in every cell of your toe nails, your intestines and your lungs.
This fundamental understanding will serve as a base for all the work (and play) that we are about to embark on with daily rituals. This 8-day module is intended to integrate into your morning, ideally sometime between sunrise and 10am. You can move through the entire ceremony of all 6 rituals at a swift pace (about 30 minutes total) or luxuriate in the bhav of self love all morning. You can start by adding just one ritual into your morning and build up as the week progresses so that by day 8 you have all the rituals integrated. Or you might go full power and commence all the rituals at once.
Let’s take the first step.
As you sleep, your body is going through all kinds of profound processes to eliminate what is not needed. Your job, upon waking is to give the body a helping hand to flush all that funk out. Going to the toilet first thing in the morning is a sign of optimal health, meaning that the body has successfully done an audit through the night and we can lighten our load. If you typically don’t need to relieve yourself, don’t worry, by the time you’ve completed this morning ritual it will happen.
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Whether you need to go or not, will depend on your dosha and you can observe imbalances in in real time, in the toilet bowl. In terms of urine, you want to see a pale yellow colour. Not cloudy or completely clear, this can be a sign of infection in the kidneys or urinary tract (or drinking too much water) Definitely not dark yellow or orange (or any other colour) this is usually a sign of dehydration and an unhappy liver.
The perfect poo will float, be long (you’re aiming for 10cm) and curved in shape, think of it as your colon smiling at you! Poo is another way the body is giving you feedback of what is working and not working for you. A happy poo, like the one described above, tells you the digestive system is functioning well, your stress levels are steady and you’re not holding on to excess emotions or thoughts.
Some classic signs of imbalance are dry, pebble poop or constipation, gas and bloating which tells you there is excess Vata. If there is excess Pitta, you might have loose bowels, an urgent need to go or even diarrhea. Or if there is too much Kalpha, your poo will be heavy, sticky or sloppy.
You're going to learn more about balancing your dosha in the DOSHA module, head there next if you’re not getting a smile from your colon each morning.
ACTION STEP: Pay attention, have a look and make a note in your journal or Notes app to observe the daily changes.
Instead of having a shower first thing in the morning, I am going to recommend only washing the hands, feet, face and mouth, at least for the next 8 days. Remember how I said the body is working all through the night to eliminate waste? Wel,, in ayurveda that excess funk is called ama. Ama is anything that the body, mind or energetic heart hasn’t been able to digest or absorb. When ama accumulates, we see the manifestation of disease, illness and injuries.
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Wash your hands and feet with warm water, these are the primary places where ama is excreted, you might not see it but once you start this ritual you will feel the difference. Rinse the face with warm water, whether you use a cleansing product or not is up to you, depending on your skin type (your dosha) and where you are in your cycle.
Depending on your dosha, you might need to wash the eyes and nose. Eyes can be cleansed simply with warm water or you can use an eye cup. If you have sinus congestion (or if you live in a city where the air pollution is real) I suggest getting a neti pot to use until the nasal passage is totally clear.
The mouth is big place for ama to exit the body so there are a few rituals I’d love you to experiment with here. The mouth is the first origin for the digestion process and ama is essentially undigested food so this area of the body-temple is of supreme importance.
Oil pulling is number one. As soon as you hit the bathroom, take a swig of oil (coconut, sesame and sunflower are best) and begin to vigorously swish, push and pull the oil into every crevice of your teeth and gums. This oil is going to pull out all the toxins from the mouth tissues and remove plaque and stains from the teeth. Spend at least 2 minutes doing this and work your way up to 10 minutes through the week (You can multitask while you do this, boil some water and getready for rituals 3 and 4) The oil will turn a milky colour and consistency, dispose of it, brush and floss your teeth. I’m going to assume you’re already brushing your teeth with natural toothpaste, but if not, get your act together!)
In comes the tongue scraper. Glide the tool down your tongue a couple of times to remove the ama, you might notice the white stuff, or any other discoloration of the tongue. The final step is mouthwash, again no alcohol or nasty chemicals required. You can make your own at home. In a glass bottle, combine filtered water, salt and your favourite essential oils, like peppermint, tea tree, clove, spearmint, sage or rosemary. Be a bathroom alchemist and add 3-5 drops of each essential oil according to your taste.
Last step. SMILE at yourself.
ACTION STEP: wash your hands, feet, face and mouth, and start oil pulling!
You’ve got your water boiling from the previous ritual. You are continuing to support the body in the elimination of ama, clear any fatigue and give your digestive fire (what I’ll refer to as agni) a little stoke (if needed) The ritual of having warm water with lemon has been in the mainstream for ages but I want you to know why lemon isn’t best for everybody. But warm water is, think of it as melting away any accumulated ama from the insides of your intestinal wall, which can add up to 2-3 kg of glue-like gunk that blocks the absorption of good nutrients and minerals.
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If you are Pitta dominant, adding lemon (or anything acidic like apple cider vinegar) is like adding more fuel to a wildfire. Adding some high quality salt, fennel seeds or even rose buds will help to sustain your agni and ensure it doesn’t burn out of control.
If you are Kalpha dominant, having help in the fire department is welcome! Bring on the fresh lemon, apple cider vinegar or kombucha, adding some to your cup of warm water. This is going to stoke that inner fire, aiding digestion and amp up your metabolism.
Vata dominant? Use your warm water to stimulate the agni AND cultivate the earth within you. You are going for roots with your water, add some ginger or turmeric (fresh or powdered) they have grounding properties and will bring some fire to the belly too. A big serve (500ml) or more will serve you immensely.
ACTION STEP: Get in the rhythm of warm water before anything else goes in your tummy! *
Self massage is the original self care practice and one of the best ways to cultivate a loving relationship with your body and emotions. There are countless physical benefits that the ayurvedic sages felt intuitively and is now proven by modern science. It helps the body eliminate toxins and lose excess weight, it soothes the nervous system and puts us into the parasympathetic state, it improves sleep, skin and muscle tone and balances hormones. Sound good?
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I committed to 40 days as an experiment when I first learned about this practice and I can vouch for the other benefits that are more subtle but just as important. Self massage helped me to trust my body and the feedback it was giving me through digestion, my nervous system and my intuition. As women, it’s essential to have quiet time to tune in to the inner guide. Cultivating a nurturing, loving relationship with yourself is the primary relationship that will serve the way you show up for your partner, family, friends, work and creativity.
Begin by gently heating some oil and creating a space where you can sit nude comfortably for 10-30 minutes. If you are Vata dominant, commit to 4-5 times per week, at the same time each day using high-quality sesame. If you are Pitta dominant, 3-5 times per week, using coconut oil is great. Kalpha types do well with sweet almond oil and a swift paced massage 2-3 times a week.
The best time of day to massage is early in the morning but it can also be a wonderful practice in the evening before taking a bath or shower. The most important thing is to decide on a time that will work for you and don’t get tricked into perfectionism.
ACTION STEP: Heat your oil and watch the video below to learn the massage technique as you go.
Do Your Yoga.
I am really tempted to leave it at that because the practice speaks for itself and no words I share here will compare to your own direct experience.
Nonetheless, Some points to remember are that a daily ritual of uniting your body with your breath is like an investment in your personal prana account. It’s money in the bank. Practising on days when life is sweet is like putting 10% of your prana into a high-interest account for a rainy day. And on the days when you are facing a shit storm, you’ve have an abundant reservoir of wisdom from which to draw from.
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Your practice will ebb and flow, it will reflect the ups and downs of life, and it’s supposed to. Your practice is your direct experience of and participation in the flow of life. You have a huge resource of guided practises awaiting you in the Living Yoga module. There you will find practices for the specific time of day, the season you’re currently in, to balance your dosha and to connect intimately with the current of divinity moving through you.
You are also empowered to Move Like You.
The practices I offer you here are not a substitute for or superior to your own personal practice. I encourage you to get to know what feels balancing and supportive for your body and mind each day, attune to the guidance that is in every cell of you. Know that by respecting your body and commitment to yourself, you are investing in your self-worth and longevity. Flow, Dance, Swim, Walk, Play and Be in Nature. Move like you.
ACTION STEP: Head to the Living Yoga module and select the best practice your body and mind today.
Meditation is one of those things where the more we try, the more struggle. Trying to meditate is like trying to sleep or trying to fall in love. Because our culture is fixated on doing, doing and doing more, we have turned meditation into another thing on the to-do list and forgotten that it is actually a natural state that arises spontaneously.
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With “Mindfulness’ becoming more mainstream we have also confused meditation and mindfulness. Mindfulness is when we do activities with a purposeful awareness or attitude of witnessing, like walking, eating or having a conversation. Meditation is not about the mind and is not separate from our asana and pranayama practice. It is a process of dropping our awareness down into the heart and body while sitting quietly. When we create a container for ourselves in this way, we create the conditions for the meditative state to naturally bubble up from within us.
The meditative state is our natural state, it feels deeply peaceful, alive and simple. This is why people often drop into the meditative state while watching the sunset, floating in the ocean or walking in the forest. Part of creating the container is through movement and breath, which is why yoga is the ultimate way to prepare for meditation, One of Krishnamacharya’s five core teachings was that asana, pranayama and meditation happen as a seamless process.
ACTION STEP: As the final ritual in your morning, listen to the meditation below.
All 6 Action Steps
Pay attention, have a look and make a note in your journal or Notes app to observe the daily changes.
Wash your hands, feet, face and mouth, and start oil pulling!
Get in the rhythm of warm water before anything else goes in your tummy!
Heat your oil and watch the video below to learn the massage technique as you go.
Head to the Living Yoga module and select the best practice your body and mind today.
As the final ritual in your morning, listen to the meditation below.