Ayurvedic Morning Practice Made Easy
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
A good night’s sleep, especially on an eco-friendly mattress like Casper, and some morning practice based on Ayurvedic principles really can make you feel reborn every day. The few peaceful minutes before you get out of bed and rush into your day should be taken advantage of to the fullest, from warming up your body to waking up your mind.
A little yoga, meditation and herbal tea can help you transcend to bliss every day. Yoga, as you know, improves flexibility, as well a mental concentration, better mental clarity, and increases productivity. And if you’re plagued by that don’t-wanna-get-out-of-bed feeling every morning, get this: yoga and meditation can be practiced anywhere that’s a flat surface, including in your bed.
To reap the greatest benefits, it’s important to personalize your practice for your unique dosha. Based on the response you receive to the dosha test, you can benefit from practicing the following sequence of postures:
Vata dosha types should focus on poses that engage the lower back and thighs. This is because Vata resides in the lower part of the body. Since Vata types tend to be cold, anxious and energetic; they require poses that have a warm, non-rigorous, soothing effect on the mind and body.
- From an upright seated position, hold legs together and stretch them out in front of you. Focus on keeping your toes pointed toward the ceiling for the duration of this pose.
- Inhale; stretch your arms over your head.
- Exhale; bend forward reaching toward your feet. Wrap your hands around your feet. Alternatively, rest hands alongside your legs on the bed.
- Gently move deeper into this position by stretching the head closer to the feet.
- Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
- Come out of the seated forward bend by sitting up straight.
- While lying on your stomach with your chin or forehead resting on the bed, bring your hands underneath your shoulders with palms facing down. Your fingertips should be lined up with your shoulders and your elbows should be bent and tucked into your body.
- Bring legs and heels together.
- Inhale; roll your head, neck and back upward like a snake. Focus on keeping the head up and shoulders back while keeping the legs together.
- Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
Pitta dosha types should focus on cooling, relaxing poses during cooler times of day, like the morning. This is because Pittas can err on the side of excess heat. Poses that compress the solar plexus or open the chest help to release excess heat from the body.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, the Pigeon pose, is great because it allows the release of heat from the chest while providing a relaxing hip opener. Opening your hips improves your posture, alignment and flexibility. Plus it elongates the back and opens the groin and hamstring.
- Exhale; while kneeling on the bed, stretch your right leg behind you and bend your left knee and foot into your right pelvic bone. Make sure your toes are pointed and your hips are square to the bed.
- Inhale; lean forward with your chest puffed out like a pigeon.
- Keep your hands on the bed for balance. Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes, then change sides and repeat, or:
- In the advanced version of this pose, lift your right arm behind you and point your palm toward the ceiling.
- Turn your head and torso toward the right.
- Bend your back leg so that your foot is pointed towards the ceiling. Hold your foot with your right hand.
- Draw your right elbow closer to your side and draw your right elbow up. Make sure that you are still gripping the foot.
- Reach around with your left arm and grasp your foot.
- Tilt your head back so that the top of your head touches your right foot. Hold the pose for 1 to 3 minutes, then release. Then change sides and repeat.
- Transition out of the pose by using your hands to lift your upper body off the bed. Roll onto your right hip and slowly bring your left leg forward.
- Starting with the Cat pose, kneel on your hands and knees, inhale and slowly roll the spine up towards the ceiling. Drop your head toward the bed. Legs and arms should be perpendicular throughout the pose.
- Exhale; slowly bring your spine back to the starting position.
- Moving to the Cow pose; inhale. Lift your chest and tailbone to the ceiling while curving your back downward towards the bed. Raise your head. Legs and arms should be perpendicular throughout the pose.
- Exhale; slowly bring your spine back to the starting position. Repeat alternating Cat and Cow poses with each inhale and exhale 10 times.
Kapha dosha types need energizing yoga poses to create heat in the body, to counter Kapha’s natural tendency to feel cold and sluggish. Backbends are heating, helping to open the chest and circulate energy throughout the body. Doing yoga in the early morning hours of Kapha (6–10am) will help keep these types more energized and motivated throughout the day.
- While lying on your back, bring your feet to an angle above your head. Bring hands behind your back to the descent.
- Touch your toes to the bed while keeping your knees straight. Once your toes are on the bed, lay your arms and hands flat on the bed with your palms facing down. Alternatively, keep feet up in the air with bent knees.
- Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
- Come out of the posture by lifting your feet up to a 45 degree angle, then slowly bring legs back to the bed. Make sure you keep your head and shoulders on the bed.
- Lying flat on your stomach, rest your forehead on the bed.
- Bend your knees; grab your ankles with your hands. Alternatively, grab one side at a time.
- Inhale and lift the head and chest off the bed. Simultaneously, lift the knees high. Focus on keeping the elbows straight and arching the body as much as possible.
- Hold this posture 1 minute.
- Exhale; release legs back down to the bed.
Performing these poses and practices each morning will help ground you, before your feet even hit the ground.
Another in-bed practice to kick off your day right? Meditation, which is great when you first wake up because it engages your mind, which can become flooded with the stress of anticipation for the day ahead. A two-minute meditation starts off with the following:
- Sit comfortably in your bed.
- Focus your breath. As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the bed and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the few minutes you meditate. And that’s it. It’s a very simple practice, but will provide maximum benefits if you do it for two minutes, every day.
One of the primary components of an Ayurvedic lifestyle is the regular consumption of herbal teas. Drinking herbal teas during the morning helps to kick start your digestion and stimulate your mind. Based on the response you receive to the dosha test, you can benefit from drinking the following herbal teas:
Vata dosha types should start the morning with teas that are naturally warming with ingredients like ginger and chai spices. Lemon turmeric ginger tea is a perfect Vata tea because turmeric and ginger both have antioxidant properties. Plus, lemon aids in digestion. Alternatively, Chai tea enhances the immune system, fights inflammation and has antioxidant properties.
Pitta dosha types should start the morning with cooling herbal teas because they are of a warmer constitution. Rose tea and Pomegranate Rooibos tea are naturally chill-inducing. Rose tea also contains many essential vitamins like C, D, K and E, as well as organic acids like citric and malic acids. Pomegranate rooibos tea is full of antioxidants and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Kapha dosha types should start the morning with herbal teas that are spicy, bitter or astringent like chicory and hibiscus. Chicory tea is a great caffeine-free option that is high in protein and rich in vitamins. Hibiscus tea helps to improve circulation.
Did you ever think mornings could be anything but snooze-button smacking and groaning for more sleep? Not so! Follow these three simple Ayurvedic practices each morning, and you’ll emerge refreshed and invigorated, and ready for whatever the day throws your way.