Does the word Dinacharya mean anything to you? You may have had a chance to listen to Brodie Welch on the Low Tox Life podcast a couple of weeks ago – We had yet another great chat as we’ve had on past shows too, shows #11 and #28.
Brodie practices Acupuncture and teaches Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – If you haven’t done her courses yet they’re very much worth it and I know the low toxers who have have got so much out of it. Her focus is on helping people understand the connections between their symptoms, lifestyle, mind and body and she does it with just the right balance between science and soul.
Interestingly our chat was not the usual TCM chat. We ended up branching away from this and instead moved onto some important work Brodie’s doing at the moment with her clients, on the importance of creating healthy habits, daily routines and the art of ‘Dinacharya’, an Ayurvedic practice used to provide balance in the body and create harmony throughout the day. Something I think we could all use a bit more of, no?
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, in the simplest of terms, is one of the world’s most ancient and powerful methodologies for mind-body health. Originating in India more than 3,000 years ago, this revered health practice remains one of India’s most treasured and traditional healthcare systems still used today.
The term Ayurveda has two distinct meanings; (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). The guiding principle of Ayurvedic medicine is the belief that the mind and body are inextricably connected and that in order to find harmony and health within the body, the mind must also align. Ayurveda also believes that every person is made up of three main ‘doshas’ – vata, pitta, and kapha. These doshas reflect various constitutions and ways of eating to ensure that each individual is in balance with their unique body type. You can even take a DOSHA QUIZ on this nifty Pdf to determine what you are – Anyone else Kapha / Pitta like me?
The beauty of ‘Dinacharya’
‘Dinacharya’ is known as the daily routine in Ayurveda. It is believed that having this daily routine will encourage balance in the body and mind and help regulate a person’s biological clock, aid digestion, nutrient absorption and metabolisation, generate self-worth, bring about discipline, and create calm and mindfulness before the day begins. The practice involves mindfulness through meditation, bathing or cleaning the body, yoga, breathing exercises, eating nourishing food and plenty more. In my observation if you bring in strong routines, you’re more energetic, because you’re not wrestling in a decision making ‘should I shouldn’t I’ state on every little thing you do or don’t do through the day.
5 suggestions for setting up your own dinacharya
For many of us, it’s a cause for celebration if we can get the kids to school on time with a decent packed lunch. But that’s not to say we can’t try and create our own dinacharya even if it is just picking a few things from the list below and weaving them into your morning, lunch break or before bed.
#1 Acts of self-care
- Rise early – rising before everyone else (in Ayurveda they prefer before the sun, but do what feels realistic for you) and taking a few moments to appreciate the beauty of the day before the chaos ensues, will put you in a better frame of mind. I’m a huge fan of a cup of tea and looking out the window observing – trees, people off to work, birds, a little ant scurrying along.
- Words of affirmation – before you get up and leave your bed, say a few kind words to yourself. It can be a prayer, a goal, a note of gratitude. Whatever you feel resonates at the time. The only catch is you have to make it positive. Starting your day upset with what you forgot yesterday / how your son woke you etc etc doesn’t frame the new day well!
- Massage – give yourself a beautiful relaxing massage with oils (you can do this in the shower if you like or even just a quick foot rub with a tsp olive or coconut oil and 3 drops of peppermint essential oil to stimulate and wake the body. I use Young Living oils but the important thing regardless is a pure essential oil).
- Meditate or Pranayama – the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of our prana (vital life force). For different sequences, you can check them out here, alternatively focus on taking deep belly breaths and sitting in silence for as little as 5 minutes – on limited time? Combine this with the massage and even looking out the window being mindful… There is ALWAYS a way to do a couple of these in tandem for 5 minutes. Always.
- Gentle exercise – practice 10-30 minutes of morning yoga or exercise that satisfies you such as a walk or pilates (without depleting your energy).
- Hydrate – drink a large glass of warm water with lemon to stimulate the digestive system.
- Eliminate – ideally clearing the bowels and bladder within an hour of waking helps to start your body off on the right foot.
- Oil pulling – this is the act of swish coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 5-15 minutes while showering or getting ready for your day. Oil pulling is said to draw toxins out of the body and clear the oral cavities of any toxins. You can even get a special oil pulling oil like the one through this link (or Iherb for international peeps) or the wonderful new Black Chicken Oral Swishing Oil. Here’s what dentist Dr Lewis Ehrlich has to say about Oil Pulling
- Nourish your body: eat a small but satiating meal to get you through to lunch without needing numerous snacks. A delicious chocolate quinoa porridge or eggs and avo on sourdough / GF bread or a nourishing smoothie are just the ticket.
- Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper – this stimulates digestion and encourages elimination of bacteria and toxins. This is life changing. You can grab one from Iherb here or if you’re an Aussie local, Nourished Life here. Black Chicken just released a beautiful Copper Tongue Cleaner with the added antimicrobial and antibacterial effects copper is known for.
- Wash your face – use super cool water and massage the eyelids to stimulate your senses – it’s a very quick way to de-puff in the morning too!
- Brush your teeth – do this thoroughly with a toxin-free toothpaste to give your mouth a clean slate for the day ahead. My husband LOVES the Jason toothpaste and me and my son are more on the Dr Brite or Dr Bronner train!
- Shower or bathe. Seems obvious but making your morning shower more ritualistic with some essential oils or a calming Beeswax candle from BIOME can set your tone for warm, steady energy for the rest of the day.
A final note on building habits and creating daily rituals
Carving out a few minutes or even 30 minutes (if you can and even split into two) every single day, is not just about making sure you tick off yet another set of ‘to-do’s’, it’s in fact all about creating long-term habits that are going to be beneficial to you on a visceral level.
As I was chatting to Brodie, around the optimal benefits of such a routine, she believes that doing these exercises on a daily basis will bring you back to alignment with your body, mind and the cycles of nature. If it all seems too difficult keep this final nugget of wisdom in mind – If you want to have a successful and productive morning then do nourishing and habit-forming rituals the night before eg – get to bed early, shower and cleanse in a way that feels good to you, eat a whole food dinner and lay off stimulants like sugar and chocolate – other than the square or two of dark chocolate if that evening ritual is your thing – I’m more talking about not scoffing, here. Doing things the night that set you up for success, makes it feel more doable to then continue with great morning rituals.
Do you have a ‘Dinacharya’? Perhaps you didn’t realise it had a name! What are your non- negotiable daily habits that keep you aligned and ready for the day ahead? I’d love to hear of anything you do!
For me, it’s cuddles with my son, then he gets busy doing ‘all the things’ so I continue with breathing, stretches, a gentle tummy massage with 2 drops of DiGize from Young Living in a tsp olive oil to wake the digestive system fire up, a couple of yoga sequences saluting the sun and then making my morning decaf and sitting with some reading for a bit. Bliss. If you’re at the baby stage of life just do what you can for now, your time will become yours one again soon!
Real Food. Happy Bodies. Happy Planet.