Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Morning Miracle of Self-Care

Image compliments of Graham Owen Gallery

I had time for a full regiment of self-care involving yoga, pranayama, meditation, chanting, abhyanga, and nasya this morning.  Why is this a miracle?  Because I have a two-year old and getting all of that in before he wakes is normally not in the cards.  Last night we took him to a baseball game and wore him out.  This morning I got to indulge in a full pass at self-care, yoga/ayurveda style.

I have written about my morning yoga practice here.  It is a practice designed to allow me to sit in meditation.  It is stimulating, balancing, and I've changed the pranayama I am doing to pratiloma ujjayi (read more about that here).  It involves some breaths in and out of alternate nostrils, some breaths through normal both-nostril ujjayi breathing... it's tremendously balancing and focusing, and it clears the mind of distractions.  It takes a lot to switch nostrils, moving the arm up and down for the normal ujjayi breaths.  I'm just beginning to practice this pranayama more.

I sat in meditation for about ten minutes, then chanted a few rounds of the Gayatri Mantra (learn more at Wikipedia).  This is a version I like, but when I chant at home in my bedroom in the morning, it's often barely audible, as I'm chanting to and with myself, not projecting very much at all.

I realized my son was STILL not stirring, and so decided to do nasya, which is good for vata imbalances.  I dropped a few drops of oil UP my nostrils and hung my head off the bed, face up.  The oil penetrates the sinuses!  It's the first time I've ever done it, and it's a strange sensation.  I want to give it a few more tries to see the effects.  I definitely feel like I've had some kind of sinus massage, and do have a little tiny bit of oil dripping in the back of my throat (just a teeny tiny bit, but enough to notice.)

I ended by doing a light abhyasa.  Traditionally, this practice is basically dousing yourself with oil head-to-toe then going into a shower to wash it off.  I toned it down a bit and just gave myself a light oiling all around, but not on the soles of my feet so I'm not slipping all day.

In general, these practices are designed to reduce or calm vata, to help me curb the resulting kapha tendencies that arise.  These tendencies (over-eating, not enjoying vigorous exercise regularly enough) have an effect on my general long-term health.  I really like seeing things through an Ayurvedic lense.  I'm just starting my learning, and am following some fascinating groups.  I even had a personal consultation with the great Debby Andersen to help me establish what practices might be helpful for me in my never-ending quest for balance and a sense of inner freedom.

I do feel quite pampered as I start the day!
What a treat.
A miracle, for a Mom!

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