You’re a Dad! Now what?!? Becoming a father brings up a range of emotions and feelings: excitement, love, anxiety, fear, protectiveness, hope, pride, joy, grief…it can be quite the rollercoaster ride!
When a new baby is on the way (or has arrived) the focus is often on the Mother and the baby. A lot of Dad’s feel uncertain of their role in the early days and are unsure of how to help or what to do. How does one overcome this? By cultivating a loving and open heart and mind, harnessing your powers of observation, and by not being afraid to mess up! Babies do not come with a user manual; it is up to each parent to learn how to best care for each child they are blessed to parent.
Oxytocin, best known as the ‘love hormone’, plays a big role in a mother’s initial bonding with their child after birth. Recently, researchers have observed that the same spike in oxytocin occurs when fathers hold and play with their newborns! Here are a few lovely ways to facilitate an oxytocin boost.
There’s no better feeling than cuddling with your sweet babe on your chest. Remove your shirt, have baby in only a diaper, sit semi-reclined and place a blanket over you both. Baby should have their head turned to one side and their shoulders resting on or above Dad’s breastbone. This provides many benefits for the baby including accelerated brain development, calms, soothes and reduces stress, improves quality of sleep, enhances immune system, stimulates digestion and weight gain, synchronizes heart rate and breathing, and promotes psychological well-being. So get snuggling!
Bathe and change baby
Giving baby a bath is a great way for Dad to build a connection and bond with their baby, as well as changing their diapers! Making eye contact, chatting, smiling, and kissing the top of their head are all great ways for baby to get used to your touch, your voice, your energy, and your love.
Sing, talk, read, play
Babies love to hear the sound of your voice. Singing, talking, reading and playing right from day one help to establish connection and are the foundation for language development. Pick your favourite song and sing it to baby every day! Get some board books to read everyday. A few of our favourites are “Guess how much I love you” by Sam McBratney, “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown, “Sometimes I like to curl up in a ball” by Vicki Churchill, and “The very hungry caterpillar” by Eric Carle.
Other ways Dad’s can offer support:
Keep the lines of communication open and remember that both you and your partner are learning how to be parents. Above all, enjoy this precious time! The newborn stage passes quickly, and while the days (and nights) can be long, there are so many sweet moments to cherish and memories to be created as a family.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dad’s out there!
The postpartum time, also referred to as the fourth trimester, in Ayurveda is known as the Sacred Window. It is said that the way the first 42 days after delivery are spent have a direct impact on the next 42 years of life.
So, what is Ayurveda and how does it relate to postpartum? Ayurveda is a centuries old practice originating in India known as the ‘Science of Life’ and offers a holistic and individual approach to health and wellness. Having an understanding of our constitution and the elements at play within us can help guide us in our day to day lives. This will help us find and maintain a balance of the three Doshas leading to greater overall well-being. The three Doshas are Vata (air/ether), Pitta (fire/water), and Kapha (earth/water). During birth and in the immediate postpartum (and longer if we are not adequately cared for) Vata is known to be high, vitiated, or out of balance. When Vata is unbalanced we can be fearful, anxious, angry, have trouble sleeping, become depressed, feel overwhelmed, and disconnected. When Vata is left unchecked this can lead to greater un-wellness and dis-ease.
There are 4 pillars of care for postpartum healing. Rest, Nutrition, Meditation and Breathwork, and Body Care. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
In Western culture taking time to rest is often seen as a weakness. We are expected to get up and keep doing all the things. Ayurveda views the first six weeks postpartum as the most critical in ensuring our long-term health. Birthers are supported in resting so as to give their body, mind, and spirit time to balance and process everything they have just experienced. It is advised to have complete rest for at least two weeks, and try to stay off of your feet as much as possible for the remaining 4 weeks. The only task birthers should be doing during this timeframe is bonding with their baby.
The focus for postpartum nutrition should be on the following: warmth, comfort, nutrient dense, easy to digest, and well-spiced. This will aid in healing and rejuvenation and will help to promote good digestion for both the birther and their baby. Foods like soup, porridge, stew, rice pudding, dhal, kitchari, stewed fruit, and spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cumin, and black pepper will provide much needed warmth and nourishment. It is also important to increase your healthy fats intake which will help to balance hormones quickly, build your milk supply, and improve your mood.
Meditation and Breathwork
Mindfulness techniques are a wonderful practice to utilize in postpartum. Practices like meditation, breathwork, journaling, or gratitude lists helps to focus the mind and calm the nervous system. This takes us out of the fight or flight response and into a more relaxed state where we can be calm and think clearly. The best way to do this is to integrate mindfulness into your day. As you are feeding the baby, taking a shower, or going for a walk, you can bring your awareness to your breath and feel it flowing in and out of the body; you can do a counting meditation, inhaling to 5 and exhaling to 5; you can simply take notice of your surroundings…what do you see or hear? Even 10 minutes a day can have a profound effect on your mental well-being.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Ayurvedic care is bodywork. There are 3 key components of body care in postpartum. The first is massage. Warm oil massages known as Abhyanga are lovely to receive anytime, but especially in postpartum. One of the best ways to soothe and lower Vata is through touch. Massage is a wonderful tool for both the birther and their baby. Even 5-10 minutes of self-massage every day can have profound effects on your energy, mood, sleep, and overall well-being. Massaging your baby helps their digestion, enhances bonding and communication, promotes deeper sleep, tones muscles, and releases tension from being in the fetal position.
The second component is herbal baths. A special blend of herbs that are healing and soothing for postpartum are made into a tea which can be added to the bathwater, used as a sitz bath, placed in a peri bottle for use after going to the washroom, or used diluted around the umbilical cord for healing. The third component is belly binding. A long piece of cotton muslin is wrapped around the body firmly but gently from just below the hip bones up to the lower ribs. This can help with stability in the hips and pelvis and reduces the feeling of emptiness in the womb. It is a gentle support for the muscles and organs.
Incorporating these practices into your postpartum care will help you to feel strong, empowered, and well: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Receiving proper care allows you to feel calm, radiant, and aligned, avoiding depletion, aging, overwhelm, anxiety, and depression.
As many of us no longer have a village around us to support us, it is necessary to create this for ourselves however we can. Before baby arrives make a list of everyone that you can call on for support. Family, friends, and neighbours can take turns preparing meals, cleaning the house, assisting with older siblings, and anything else that needs to be done. If you don’t have family nearby, hiring a postpartum doula is a great way to ensure you get the rest you need to not only fully heal and recover but also to thrive in your new role as a parent.
There is no greater transition in life than giving birth and becoming parents.This is a sacred experience for all involved: the birther, the partner, and the new baby.
Throughout pregnancy, the birthing process, and in the immediate postpartum time there is much we can do to connect with ourself, our partner, and our baby to bring conscious loving awareness to our experiences.
Ayurveda and Yoga philosophy offer much guidance and wisdom to help create a calm, loving, and supportive environment while navigating the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual challenges of becoming new parents. Whether you are preparing for the arrival of your first baby or second, third, or fourth; each birth is an initiation, one that needs to be acknowledged and honoured. No two pregnancies are the same, just as no two babies are the same. Each birth is an opportunity to create a conscious connection within ourselves, with our baby, and with our partner, embracing the change in family dynamics.
“To mother a child is one of the most momentous and influential jobs in a woman’s life. It is referred to as a maha-dharma or ‘great duty’, above all other dharmas in life. The dharma of motherhood includes serving as a positive role model for your children, guiding and supporting them, building confidence and compassion in them, instilling strong values and ethics, and encouraging their growth and development as individual beings.” ~excerpt from Yoga Mama Yoga Baby, by Margo Shapiro Bachman.
The Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text, advises to treat a pregnant person with gentle attention and care. While pregnant, whatever we take in, including thoughts, emotions, experiences, and foods, are transmitted to the baby. Positive OR negative. How can we create and maintain more peacefulness and joy in our lives and live more harmoniously? We need only to look to the qualities of Sattva (one of the 3 natures of the mind), which are clarity, alertness, compassion, balance, love, and awareness. One of the primary goals in Yoga and Ayurveda is to cultivate more sattva.
So, how can we experience more sattva within ourselves, our relationships, and our surroundings? Here is a list to get you started.
Each moment is an opportunity. What are you choosing to focus on?
“The health of every family begins with the mother. She is the tree from which the healthy fruit must come” - Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Preparing for birth
“Birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have” - Robin Lim
“When we enter the world of birth, we step across the threshold from the mundane to the sacred. Pregnancy and birth are a space between worlds - a liminal space - a place where you are no longer not a parent and not yet one either. This betwixt and between is sacred space within which powerful and profound events occur - often uninvited.” ~ excerpt from Transformed by Birth, by Britta Bushnell Phd.
So how does one ‘prepare’ for birth? How can you tap into the sacredness of this experience?
Begin by going within. Still the mind, flow with the breath, allow yourself to feel all of the sensations with wonder and curiosity. Remain soft and open. Trust the process.
It can be helpful to make a list of birth preferences prior to going into labour. Set some time aside during the pregnancy to sit quietly and imagine yourself in the birthing space. What does it look like and how does it feel? Who would you like present at the birth? How would you like the atmosphere? (Music, lighting, noise). What positions would you like to try during the birth? Are you ok with pain medication, and if so, what type and when? Writing out your preferences is a great way to keep others informed of how you would like your birth to look. A quick online search will pull up lots of templates for you to use as an example. Keep in mind that with any ‘plan’ it’s important to remain flexible. Unexpected circumstances can arise, or you may change your mind about something once you are actually in labour. That’s okay! Being flexible and going with the flow are necessary skills to have for your soon-to-be new role: a parent!
Preparing for postpartum
Ayurveda refers to the first 42 days postpartum as the Sacred Window. How a birther is cared for during these 42 days can have an impact on them for the next 42 years.
The first 42 days are a sacred and tender time. Birthers need to be surrounded with love and deep layers of support as they step into their new reality, honouring and validating this wondrous journey they have embarked upon. Birthers need to feel empowered, strong, and capable; to be able to tap into their intuition with a deep knowing.
Nurturing, loving, and caring for new mothers gives them the time, space, and energy to tap into their inner strength so they can take care of themselves, their babies, their families, and ultimately…their greater community.
Ayurveda provides us with the 4 Pillars of Care, which are REST, NOURISHMENT, HERBS, and BODY CARE. The birther is as delicate as their new baby. They are at a crossroads and require deep rejuvenation - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If they are able to receive the level of care needed they will have a greater chance of thriving and coming out the other side feeling strong, empowered, calm, radiant, and aligned.
So, how can you ensure that you will be wrapped in the layers of support you need so you can take the time you need to heal and transition into your new role? A postpartum plan is essential. There is so much to consider and everyone’s needs will look a little different. Taking the time to think about the help you will need or desire, talking it through with your partner, and writing it out will help you to come up with a plan that works for you and your family. I have a free planning guide available that you can download by visiting www.wiserootstherapies.com/ebook. This ebook is a great starting point. If you’d like to delve even deeper into postpartum planning, I highly recommend the Build Your Nest workbook by Kestrel Gates. She goes into great detail about all aspects of postpartum planning with a lot of great reflection questions to help you discover exactly what your particular needs are or will be. I also offer individual sessions to create a personalized plan that will work for each family. More information can be found on my website.
The changing of the seasons is a wondrous time, bringing a much needed shift in energy. If you live in an area where winter is quite pronounced, the sight of snow melting, buds forming on trees, and flowers starting to bloom are all exciting signs that nicer weather is just around the corner!
Spring often brings cool weather, a lot of moisture, and pollen and dust; all things that can strain our immune system. This is a great time to do some gentle cleansing practices to help support us through this temperamental shift in energies.
Late winter and early spring is Kapha season. Kapha, derived from the elements of water and earth, can be described as heavy, slow, cold, soft, and sticky. The best way to combat this energy is to bring warmth and movement into our days, and to consume foods that are lighter in nature.
Ayurveda provides us with some simple, easy-to-do techniques that can help align us with the cycles of nature, shedding any impurities that may have built up from the previous season.
If you’re ready to let go of the sluggishness of winter, here are some practices to get you started on your cleansing journey.
We often tend to eat things that are not so great for us, especially during the winter months. Try to reduce or eliminate heavy foods that accumulate in the body, such as fried foods, dairy, sugar, alcohol, saturated fats, and soda. Instead, focus on including more bitter foods into your diet like kale, collard greens, brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, dill, zucchini, and eggplant.
Eat steamed vegetables, drink broth, and use spices like coriander, fennel, turmeric, cumin, and fresh mint.
Sip on hot water or herbal tea throughout the day. Try nettle, dandelion, fennel, mint, or ginger.
Going for a walk twice a day is a great way to integrate more mindful movement into your days. Start off with a slow pace so that you are able to maintain proper breathing through the nose without becoming short of breath. It is ideal to walk in nature, taking time to soak in the energy from the trees, to listen to bird song, and to feel the sun and breeze on your skin.
Incorporating a yoga sequence into your mornings is another great way to get moving and to set the tone for the day. Try doing Sun Salutations, Surya Namaskar, to build up some heat in the body and to get your energy flowing. See the diagram for pictures of each pose with a brief description. If you are new to the practice start with a couple of rounds and keep increasing rounds as you improve your stamina.
Another wonderful practice is self-massage. At this time of year it is best to do a technique called dry brushing. This can be done with raw silk gloves called Garshana Gloves, with a soft sponge, or a dry brush, all of which will gently exfoliate the skin, reduce cellulite, and eliminate toxins from the body by stimulating your lymphatic system. Massage with long sweeping strokes on the arms and legs, and circular movements on the stomach and joints (shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, hips, and ankles), avoiding the face, chest, and heart, directing each stroke upwards towards the heart. Start at the feet, moving up the legs, onto the belly and back and neck, finishing from hands to shoulders. Complete the massage with a warm shower. To help stimulate blood circulation and further invigorate the skin, end your shower with a few cycles of hot then cold water.
With the increase in pollen and dust comes seasonal allergies. Using a neti pot can help reduce inflammation and remove excess mucus from the nasal passages. A neti pot resembles a small teapot and is available at many health food stores or can be readily found online. To make the neti pot solution, mix 3 teaspoons of salt (Himalayan, kosher, pickling) with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and store in a sterile airtight container. To use, combine 1 teaspoon of the mixture with 8 ounces of lukewarm water (distilled, sterile, or previously boiled then cooled).
Steps to using your neti pot
Step 1 - Add the saline solution to a clean, dry neti pot. Bend over a sink looking straight down. Turn your head to a 45 degree angle. Gently press the spout of the neti pot into the nostril closest to the ceiling. Make sure you have a seal between the neti pot and your nostril.
Step 2 - Breathing through your mouth, tip the neti pot so the saline solution reaches your nostril. Keep the neti pot tipped while the solution runs through your nostril and leaves through your other nostril.
Step 3 - Continue to pour the solution into your nostril until the neti pot is empty. Once you’ve used all of the solution, remove the neti pot from your nostril and bring your head up. Breathe through both nostrils to clear out your nose. Use a tissue to absorb remaining saline and mucus.
Step 4 - Repeat the steps above to use the neti pot on your other nostril.
Step 5 - Rub a few drops of oil (pure sesame, sunflower, olive) to the inside of each nostril to help moisturize the nasal passages.
Do you show your feet love and attention? They are the hardest working, yet one of the least appreciated parts of our bodies. Try this simple ritual to give your feet some much needed care.
Start with a foot bath. This is a wonderful way to relax, warm up the body, and to prepare for sleep. You can use a basin filled with warm water or use a bathtub filled with enough water to cover the feet only. Add 1/2 cup of epsom salts to the water and soak the feet for 10-15 minutes. After soaking, apply a small amount of body scrub (you can make your own by mixing 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup epsom salts, 1/4 cup oil - olive, sesame or coconut, and add a few drops of essential oils like peppermint or lavender) to the palms of the hands and rub the lower legs, ankles, and the tops and soles of the feet. Rinse and pat dry. Next, massage the feet using firm pressure. Don’t forget in between the toes! When finished, use oil to moisturize and massage the feet. This will help to protect against cracking, peeling, and aging. Put on a pair of socks to allow the oil to fully penetrate the feet and turn in for the night.
As spring is the season of regeneration, rejuvenation, and rebirth, let’s harness this incoming energy! Incorporating the above practices is a great way to gently ease into the cleansing process. This is also a great time to reflect on other areas of our lives that may need some ‘cleaning up’. Our households, finances, friendships, relationships, emotions, beliefs etc. Sitting quietly in meditation or journaling are both wonderful ways to bring more mindfulness into our everyday lives. Remember that the simplest practices can often have the most profound effect.
Yoga with babies and children may not look the same as your regular practice (if you have one) but is a great way to incorporate more movement into your days all together as a family. Young children learn best by observation. If they see you stretching and moving in ways that seem fun and silly it may just encourage them to give it a try!
Short sessions are best for kids; even a few minutes a day can help increase focus, body awareness and mindfulness, enhance concentration and memory, develop strength and flexibility, and aid in emotional regulation.
For Yoga with a small baby, you can lie them on your mat and engage with them as you move through your practice by making eye contact, smiling, touching, and lots of kisses! There are even poses that can safely be done while holding your baby. If you are unfamiliar with the practice you can find many examples by searching on YouTube for ‘baby yoga’. This is a great way to ease much of the tightness and discomfort that comes with caring for a little one, such as in the shoulders, neck and chest, hips and low back. Many Yoga studios offer parent and baby classes, whether in person or online. This is a great way to connect with other parents that are in the same life stage and to have a sense of community. Being home with a baby can be quite isolating. Connecting with other parents is vital to help feel supported during this time.
If you’ve recently had a baby it is best to wait 4-6 weeks after birth, or 8-10 weeks following a caesarean birth, and after you have received the go-ahead from your care provider that it is safe to resume physical activity.
There are many different ways of introducing young children to a movement practice. The following list provides a few suggestions to get you started.
There are many great kids yoga programs available on YouTube as well. Cosmic Kids Yoga has a very popular channel with many videos to choose from. Their videos range from high energy to peaceful guided relaxation, so you’re sure to find something to suit your child’s temperament or needs on any given day. There are themed classes based on animals, seasons, events, and even popular video games! Finding a class based on your child’s interests is a great way to start getting them involved in a movement practice.
The most important thing to remember is to keep it easy, relaxed, and fun! And keep trying! Your child might not be interested right away, or may have a short attention span, and that’s ok. If there is no pressure to do Yoga ‘the right way’ kids will be more likely to give it a try and find their own way to have fun with it. Before you know it your little one may be busting out their Down Dog in the kitchen saying “look at me!”.
Looking for a fun new activity to do with your partner? Why not give couples Yoga a try?!
Working together with your partner to move into various poses has many benefits for you both, such as strengthening communication, stretching levels of trust, reducing anxiety and stress, and can help to improve both intimacy and your sex life!
Whether you are an experienced Yoga practitioner or completely new to the practice, this can be a great way to spend quality time together, release some tension, and have a little fun. Couples Yoga can vary from very simple and easy poses, all the way to very difficult - such as performing Acro Yoga.
Check out the following six poses to get you started.
Sit back to back with your partner with your legs crossed and hands resting in your lap or on your knees. Notice how your breath feels as you inhale and exhale. Can you match your breathing with your partner's?
Sit for 3-5 minutes before moving on to the next pose.
Staying in the same position as Easy Pose, place your right hand on your left knee, and your left hand on your partner's right knee, gently twisting to your left and looking towards your left shoulder. Hold for a few breaths then switch sides; left hand to your right knee with your right hand on your partner's left knee, looking towards your right shoulder.
Again, hold for a few breaths.
Seated backbend and forward fold
Starting in Easy Pose, one partner will slowly fold forward, bringing their hands to the floor in front of them, while the other partner will slowly lower backwards onto their partner's back.
Hold for a few breaths and then switch positions.
Wide legged seated forward fold
Sit facing your partner with your legs stretched out wide. Press the soles of your feet together, holding hands with the arms straight.
You can stay in this position, or take turns slowly pulling your partner towards you as you lean back.
Sit facing your partner a few feet away from each other. Press the soles of your feet together and slowly start to lift your legs into the air as you lean backwards. This may take a bit of shifting to get the proper position. You can start by practicing with one leg at a time until you find the balance. It can be helpful to have something for you both to hold on to, such as a yoga strap, a belt or tie, or a scarf.
Hold for a few breaths and don't forget to look into each other's eyes and smile!
Come up onto your knees facing the same direction, extending your outside leg away from each other. Grasp your partner's hand with the inner arm, extending the outer arm up overhead, reaching towards your partner. You can grasp each other's hand, place the palms together, or try to make a heart like we did here!
Look into your partner's eyes and enjoy being in this space together.
Remember that the key here is in the connection between you and your partner, not perfecting a pose. Couples Yoga is a great way to bring in new challenges to work on together, which can help increase the overall quality of your relationship.
Focus on your breath, take your time, and keep it lighthearted and fun!
Do you remember the moment you met your partner? Can you picture it? What do you see/hear/smell/feel? Maybe your heart was racing, you felt nervous and were sweating, or maybe you felt tingly all over like there was magic afoot. Maybe you were excited and couldn’t stop smiling! Were you inside or outside, alone or with friends? Try to conjure up as much as you can remember about that moment and really feel into it. Take a minute to sit quietly, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders and your jaw, and close your eyes. As you sit and breathe, pull all of those memories forward and really feel them inhabiting all of your being until you are vibrating with them. Take another deep, slow breath, and as you exhale feel your energy extending down into the earth, rooting you and the vibration of those memories together.
How did that feel for you? Were you able to recall the exact moment you knew you had found your person? Could you put yourself back into that space and use all of your senses to bring that memory back into your body? When I do this exercise I feel very calm and grounded and can feel the deep connection between my partner and I. The strong energetic flow that brought us together, and all of the love that fills my heart to bursting.
It can be difficult to keep these feelings in the forefront as we get caught up in the day-to-day busyness of our lives; our jobs, household tasks, children… there is always something to do or somewhere to be! The days quickly slip by, and often our relationships with our loved ones are put on the back burner as a result.
So how do we maintain an intimate, loving connection with our partner as we go about our daily activities? The following list provides some simple tools that can help deepen intimacy and strengthen the bond you have with your partner.
With all of the above suggestions, it is helpful to ground your own energy before connecting with your partner. There are different ways of doing this. The simplest method is to close your eyes, relax your body, inhale deeply, and as you exhale send your breath down your body and out through your feet. This helps to calm the nervous system, grounding and centering your energy to keep you focused on the here and now. From this place you will be able to give your partner your undivided attention, bringing intentional loving awareness into all of your interactions within your relationship.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into conscious connection, I am offering a 4-week workshop series coming soon! A virtual version is also in the works!
Each session has a main theme and incorporates different massage practices, breath practices, energy work, partner poses, and meditation.
May we all bring more consciousness into each of our relationships! To not only honour our partners, but to also deeply honour ourselves.
Ayurveda is India’s traditional system of healing and focuses on enhancing ones quality of life including mental, emotional, and spiritual states, as well as physical health.
The simplest way of incorporating Ayurvedic practices into our lives is through our daily routine, known as Dinacharya, which means “to follow the knowledge of the day” in Sanskrit. This is a concept that looks at the cycles of nature and bases daily activities around these cycles. Following a consistent daily routine can be grounding and nourishing, bringing our mind, body, and spirit into balance.
The Ayurvedic Clock
Just as our bodies and the cycles of nature are made up of different energies, known as the Doshas, so are the times of day which are represented by the Ayurvedic clock. At different times of the day our energies will be more aligned with certain activities.
Vata Dosha rules 2-6am and 2-6pm, Kapha Dosha 6-10am and 6-10pm, and Pitta Dosha rules 10-2pm and 10-2am. Vata energy is quick, light, and scattered, which requires focus and grounding. Kapha energy is slow and sluggish requiring stimulation. Pitta energy is focused, sharp, and fiery, requiring cooling and soothing. As we attune ourselves to these energies we will find a natural rhythm that will help guide us and bring about a sense of ease to our day-to-day lives.
There are a number of beneficial practices that you can add into your routine that will help to keep you calm, grounded, focused, and aligned with your energy fluctuations throughout the day. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day is the best place to start. From there you can begin adding in more practices as your energy shifts.
Let’s take a look at a sample daily routine, keeping in mind that it takes time to work in all of these practices! Once you are on a good schedule you will find that these activities really don’t take up a lot of time but can make a huge difference in your energy, mood, and overall health.
Ayurvedic daily routine
You may find you have more time in the morning, or the evening, and can adjust these practices to fit your current schedule.
As you begin to weave Ayurveda into your daily routine, remember that building in new habits takes time. Try to add in one or two new practices and stick with them for a couple of weeks before adding in more. Taking things slow and steady, one day at a time will set you up for success to create lasting, healthy habits that will transform your life.
I’ve included directions here for two of my favourite practices, Abhyanga (self-massage) and a Pranayama (breath work) practice known as Nadi Shodhana. Give them a try and see how you feel!
Abhyanga self-massage instructions
You will need:
Place the container of oil in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Spread a towel out on the bathroom floor for you to stand on. This will prevent slipping and will catch any oil drips.
Starting at the crown of the head, pour about a tablespoon of oil onto your scalp and massage with a shampooing motion.
Gently massage your face, ears, and neck.
Massage in a circular motion on and around the shoulders and elbows, and use an up-and-down motion on the upper arms and forearms.
Continue massaging in large circles over the chest, stomach, and lower abdomen, reaching around as best you can to work the oil into your back.
Moving on to the legs, be sure to use a circular motion around the knees and ankles and an up-and-down motion on the upper and lower portion of the legs.
Lastly, massage your feet top and bottom, getting in between each toe.
Take a few moments to sit quietly with your eyes closed, breathing slowly and deeply, to allow the oil to penetrate further into your tissues.
When you are ready, have a short, warm shower and gently pat yourself dry with a clean towel.
This entire process should only take 5-10 minutes and is a wonderful way to begin winding down for bedtime.
Nadi Shodhana - Alternate Nostril Breath
Nadi Shodhana means ‘channel cleansing’, and is a gentle breath practice that is very calming to the nervous system. It is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, quieting the mind prior to meditation, or aiding in falling asleep.
Using your right hand to control the flow of breath through the nostrils, position your thumb over the right nostril, the first two fingers gently pressing between the eyebrows, and the ring finger over the left nostril, letting the pinky finger hang loosely.You will be pressing gently on the bottom of each nostril, and breathing softly making no noise.
To begin, sit quietly in a comfortable position, allowing the breath to flow naturally in and out of the body. On your next inhalation, inhale deeply, then gently close off the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left nostril. Breathe in through the left nostril, then close off the left nostril with your ring finger, release your thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, close it off with your thumb, release your finger and exhale through the left nostril.
Continue breathing in this pattern for a few breaths. As you get more comfortable with this practice you can work up to doing it for longer periods.
On your final exhale allow your right hand to drop to your side, close your eyes, and return to your regular breath. Sit in silence for a few moments before opening your eyes and re-joining the world.
Ayurveda, known as the “science of life and longevity”, is a traditional system of natural healing that has been practiced in India for over 5,000 years. It provides us with the tools for living a life of balance; through nutrition, herbs, adequate lifestyle, right thinking, seasonal detoxification, along with the practice of Yoga and meditation.
Ayurveda works with the individual. By discovering your unique mind-body constitution, or doshic balance, you will be presented with a set of guidelines that will allow you to begin your journey to balanced, conscious living.
Ayurveda describes the entire physical world in terms of five elements: Air, Ether, Fire, Water, and Earth. Each element has their own particular qualities:
Air: dry, cold, rough, and full of motion
Ether: vast, cold, light, and clear
Fire: hot, subtle, mobile, dry, and sharp
Water: cold, mobile, heavy, soft, and liquid
Earth: cold, heavy, solid, stable, and dry
These five elements clearly manifest individually in the natural world, but they also all exist at all times in all things - including the body - and each has its particular role to play.
According to Ayurveda there are three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We are all born with our own unique combination of these three energies, with one or two predominating. This is known as our prakriti. Determining your prakriti requires an assessment of your most natural state. Consider your physical structure, as well as your mental and emotional tendencies.
Vata is comprised of the elements Air and Ether. Vata is dry, cold, light, mobile, rough, subtle and clear. Vata regulates the principal of movement.
A Vata predominant person usually displays the following traits:
Physique: A light, trim build, often delicate in nature. The features (facial, fingers, limbs) are long, slim or narrow. Hair is thin, wiry, or curly.
Digestion: The appetite and digestion are variable, going up and down, yet often lean more towards “eating like a bird” and constipation.
Personality: A Vata person tends to be creative, thinks abstractly, and often has rapid speech with a thin, raspy, high-pitched or crackly voice. Vata predominant people are also prone to fear and anxiety, and have trouble focusing on one thing at a time.
Pitta is comprised of the elements Fire and Water. Pitta is sharp, penetrating, hot, liquid, mobile, and oily. Pitta regulates the principal of transformation.
A Pitta predominant person usually displays the following traits:
Physique: A medium build with average height and weight. The features can be sharp and fiery, precise and well-defined.
Digestion: A ferocious appetite and strong digestion.
Personality: A Pitta nature makes one passionate, an initiator, directed and focused. Pittas can also be easily irritated, fussy, angry, judgemental, and critical.
Kapha is comprised of the elements Earth and Water. Kapha is heavy, cold, dull, oily, smooth, dense, soft, static, liquid, cloudy, and hard. Kapha regulates the principal of stability and structure.
A Kapha predominant person usually displays the following traits:
Physique: A large, stout frame, features are rounder, larger, thicker, and often smoother than those of Vata or Pitta.
Digestion: Appetite is consistent and regulated but metabolism is slow, so may gain weight more readily and have difficulty losing it.
Personality: Kaphas are “down to earth”; grounded, stable, patient, compassionate and nurturing. They have a strong memory and firm beliefs. This may make them prone to inflexibility, possessiveness, jealousy, hesitant towards change, and inertia.
What is your constitution?
What are your qualities and tendencies - physically, mentally, emotionally? Do you have a predominance of one of these doshas? Or can you see yourself in all three?
You can take an online quiz to help determine your prakriti. Try this one from Joyful Belly:
The more you observe the subtle qualities in your body, the more flexibility you’ll have in your day to day choices. We are continually changing and renewing, and the body’s capacity to regenerate itself is what allows healing to happen. By tuning in and feeling what is happening inside your body on a daily basis, you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle to encourage your own unique state of balance.
Embracing seasonal change
Each season has its associated dosha, with that particular doshas qualities being more dominant at that time. Late Winter/early Spring is Kapha, late Spring/Summer is Pitta, and Fall/early Winter is Vata. As we are entering Fall here in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s take a look at how Vata is influencing us and how we can work with this particular energy to keep us grounded and move through this transition with ease.
As the seasons shift from summer to fall we can feel that the nights are getting colder, we see the leaves on the trees drying up and falling to the ground, and we can feel the wind gathering its strength, whispering that winter is on its way. These are signs of Vata in nature, but similar signs may also be appearing in our minds and bodies, such as dry skin and hair, cracking joints, wandering thoughts, and restless sleep.
Remembering that Vata is composed of cold, dry, and rough, with lots of movement, we want to bring in the opposite qualities to help us feel stable and grounded.
Try incorporating some (or all!) of the following tips to maintain a sense of balance over the coming weeks:
Eat foods that are warm, well-cooked, well-spiced, and oily
Having a regular, daily routine can make all the difference in keeping Vata balanced. Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, eating your meals on the same schedule with lunch being the biggest meal of the day, and planning time for exercise, rest, and relaxation. Taking the time to nourish your mind, body, and spirit, will help you to feel more energized and centred, ready to embrace this shift in seasons.
There are SO many benefits of incorporating Yoga into your daily routine while pregnant.
Beyond the obvious physical benefits like building strength, stamina, and balance, increasing energy, and relieving the common discomforts of pregnancy, there are many mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits as well.
A major component of any Yoga practice is breath work. Tuning in to your breath, noticing its flow as it moves in, through, and out of the body helps you to feel grounded and centred. This aids in calming the nervous systems of both you and your baby. Being in a more relaxed state decreases tension and stress, reduces anxiety, allows more positive hormones to be transferred to the baby, improves sleep, and can help you retain a sense of peace and calm throughout the many transitions of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
Attending a prenatal class with other expecting mamas is a great way to connect with others who are in the same phase of life as yourself. Community building at this time is so important! Having others to share all of the ups and downs with who understand what you are experiencing is vital for your mental and emotional wellbeing. These classes offer a safe environment to share discomforts, joys, fears, and questions, allowing for the sharing of knowledge and the passing down of a legacy of wisdom.
Many of the poses and techniques taught in prenatal Yoga will benefit you during childbirth such as various labouring and birthing positions, breath practices, meditations and affirmations. Having dedicated time to devote to these practices during pregnancy will prepare you physically, mentally, and emotionally for the birthing process.
Prenatal Yoga paves the way to creating a welcoming space in body and mind, a time of connection, rest, and a nurturing of self, all while deepening your bond with your baby.
As with all forms of exercise, it’s important to have the go-ahead from your healthcare provider before beginning any kind of routine. There are many different approaches to prenatal exercise, so be sure to ask lots of questions of potential teachers to be sure their class will be the right fit for you.
In my classes I take a gentler, more restorative approach to the asanas. I believe your body is already working so hard building this new life inside of you, and with our busy day-to-day lifestyles we often don't give ourselves adequate time to truly rest and replenish our minds and bodies. Breath work, meditations, affirmations, birth prep, and discussions around topics relating to the prenatal and immediate postpartum period help round out the classes.
I personally have experienced the many benefits of a regular yoga practice throughout pregnancy and postpartum, and during the birthing process (x3!). And the benefits don't stop there. Maintaining a sense of peace and calm, and being able to take a step back from my surroundings to be in more of a witness state helps me to be less reactionary and more responsive. Which benefits not only myself, but also my partner and my children. This mindfulness is an ongoing process, that is why it is called a practice! But with continued practice the effects ripple out to our families, our communities, and ultimately, out to the world at large.
For a great visual of the ripple effect our practices have, check out the video below of this cute frog singing his heart out!
Hi! I'm a Mama of 3, an Ayurveda Spa Specialist, Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Postpartum Facilitator, and Postpartum Doula. I am passionate about caring for birthers during the Sacred Window of postpartum, and educating others on how to care for the new families in their lives.