Tossing and turning at night and watching the clock inch from hour to hour till the sky turns pale is frustrating. Try these refreshing Ayurveda rituals for quick respite:
Get an hour of Sunlight today:
From sunrise to 11am and from 4pm to sunset is a great time get yourself blasted with bright, nourishing sunlight. The vedas are filled with praises to the Sun. Waking up and saying Namaste to the Sun is the best thing for our Serotinin levels. This champion happiness hormone is the pre-curser of the sleep hormone Melatonin.
If you are like me and don’t have a way to get an hour of sunlight, break it down into 15 minutes walks, lunch outside, sitting by a sunny window and schedule in an hour of sun bathing over the weekends.
If it is a particularly gloomy day, switch on all the lights in the house as soon as you wake up.
Light a lamp, a stick of incense and chant:
As soon as you are back home, light a candle or a lamp, burn an incense and chant something simple like a mantra.
Lighting a lamp at dusk is a beautiful Vedic tradition. Incense is burnt, flowers are offered, bells are tinkled and mantras are chanted. This is a great way to reset the vibration of the space around us and to bring stability to the mind and body. The act of looking at a natural flame, smelling a calming perfume and chanting cleanses our energy of anything negative that we may have picked up during the day.
On stressful days, I chant OM repetitively till I feel peace. You may chant a favorite mantra of yours or simple joy, joy, joy or peace, peace, peace, invoking a quality that you wish to have.
Make yourself some Golden Milk
There are many delicious golden mixtures available from Ayurveda stores. You can create a simple one from just turmeric and nutmeg.
Boil one cup of any kind of milk you like with 3 cups of water and ½ teaspoon of turmeric and a gram of nutmeg. Leave on a low flame till the water evaporates and the milk is reduced to 1 cup.
Boiling increases digestibility. By boiling on a low flame this golden milk mixture turns to medicine and the essential compounds from Turmeric and Nutmeg are easily absorbed by the body.
Drink a small cup an hour after dinner and right after the oil Abhyangam.
Give yourself an oil Abhyangam
An oil Abhyangam with any warm oil that does not solidify at the room temperature in your region is ideal.
An Abhanyam is simply a massage with long, loving strokes. Apply thoroughly to every part of the body, oiling well and massaging the oil into the skin.
If you live in a cold climate, run a space heater in the bathroom to stay warm. Place an old towel on a stool to sit upon as you let the oil seep into the skin, creating a protective barrier between the external and the body.
After fifteen minutes, use paper towels or an old towel to wipe the oil off your body, this will save cleaning the bath tub later.
Give yourself a Shiro Abhyangam
As you are letting the oil seep into your skin, massage your head with a teaspoon of sesame, coconut, almond or olive oil.
Use circular motion and gently tug at the roots. Massage behind the ears and the nape and forehead. When the ears feel warm, you have done a good job.
A Shiro Abhyangam is done with a medicated Ayurvedic oil like a Bhringaraja Tailam, Eladi Tailam, Dhurdhurapatradi Tailam or Chemparathyadi Thailam for premature greying, hair fall and scalp itchiness.
After fifteen minutes wash off the oils from the hair and body with a gentle body wash and shampoo.
Dim the lights in the bedroom and put away the devices
As soon as our optic nerves of the eyes stop detecting light, the body starts to convert Serotonin to Melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Pick up a journal and write down 3 things to be grateful for or read a calming book. As a modern woman who follows a vedic life, I run the day through my head and ask myself:
- Have I been kind to a plant?
- Have I shown affection to an animal?
- Have I remembered an ancestor with fondness?
Being grateful and seeing beauty in the world that supports me, and taking care of those who depend on me is a pleasure that soothes me and gives great meaning to my daily life.
Watering a plant, admiring a flower or petting your coworker’s dog and fondly remembering an aunt or grandfather is who is no more, are a vedic daily checklist that must be ticked for a restful night’s sleep.
Massaging the soles of the feet:
And finally before switching off the lights, massage some grapeseed or almond oil into the soles of your feet for ten minutes. This is especially beneficial if you are a Vata-type and tend to have dry skin and joint issues.
Wipe off with a paper towel and wear socks if cold. This ritual if done on its own is potent in inducing relaxation and sleep.
Switch off the lights and tuck yourself in. Send love to whatever or whoever you hold sacred and drift away to sleep.