Being an Ashtanga practitioner requires a strong commitment to body and mind. When practiced traditionally, you commit to showing up on your mat 6 days a week, all the while balancing the challenges of everyday life. Taking care of the body and mind outside of the Mysore room is so important for the longevity of your health and asana practice. We’ve compiled a list of 5 essential daily habits for Ashtangi’s, to help you be at your best every day.
5 Essential Daily Habits for Ashtangi’s
1. Drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning
Starting your day off with warm lemon water (or just warm water) first thing in the morning, sets the tone for your digestive system. It helps to clear out any impurities in the digestive tract and will help get things moving in the morning. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing like a good pre-practice poop, am I right?
2. Nasya Oil or Neti Pot
After you have your warm water with lemon, using a neti pot or Nasya oil is another useful daily routine. Doing either of these practices daily will help to cleanse the nasal passages from impurities and mucous blockages, and promotes healthy circulation of breath throughout the day. You can learn more about how to Neti Pot or use Nasya Oil over on Banyan Botanicals.
3. Be mindful of your coffee intake
Ashtangi’s are known for their love of coffee. No coffee, no prana, right? While a warm cup of joe in the morning can be helpful, it’s important to ensure you’re not over-doing it with the magical bean juice. Coffee can be a wonderful supplement when used in moderation, but when taken in high quantities can have negative consequences. Insomnia, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, upset stomach and increased resting heart rate are a few of the negative side effects. Try limiting your coffee intake to one cup in the morning. If you’re finding this hard, you can also use a coffee substitute such as this recipe!
4. Let the biggest meal of the day be lunch
A good rule of thumb when planning out your meals is to have the biggest meal around midday. Your digestive fire (Agni) is strongest between noon and two in the afternoon. This means that your body will be able to digest and assimilate food most efficiently between these times.
Also, consider eating your last meal about 2-3 hours before bedtime. The closer you eat to your bedtime, the harder it is for your body to digest and assimilate the food. Giving yourself plenty of time between your last meal and bedtime will also help improve the quality of your sleep. In turn, you will wake to feel rested and energized as opposed to sluggish and tired. This will give you lots of energy for your morning practice!
5. Establish a bedtime routine
Sleep is such an important aspect of our health. So much healing occurs in our body and mind as we sleep. Ensuring a good quality sleep will help reduce injury and promote recovery, improve mood and increase energy levels throughout the day. There are a few things you can do around bedtime to support your health and improve your practice:
Establishing regularity around bedtime is one of the most important, and possibly overlooked daily habits. Try to get in the habit of going to bed around the same time every night. It will help regulate your body’s inner clock and make it easier for you to wake up in the morning.
Try to give yourself a mental cleanse before bed. Put away your phone, sit in a seated meditation, or do 10 minutes of journaling before you sleep. Unprocessed emotions can weigh on your mind and adversely impact your sleep quality.
Finally, you can use supplements such as applying sesame oil to the soles of feet and consume ojas milk (recipe below) before bedtime. Both these things have been shown to promote healthy sleep patterns.
Yes, this practice is hard. Showing up on your mat 6 days a week is trying on both the body and the mind. But by implementing even a few of these habits into your daily routine, you can improve the quality of not only your asana practice but your overall health as well. For more tips on improving your health during this fall season, check out our Ayurvedic Guide to Fall Wellness.
Ojas Milk Recipe
- 1 cup almond milk
- 10 almonds soaked overnight peeled and chopped
- 2 chopped dates
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp poppy seeds
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of saffron
- Place all ingredients (with the exception of saffron) into a blender, and blend on high until a creamy consistency is reached.
- Pour into a small saucepan over medium heat, and heat until the desired temperature is achieved.
- Pour into a glass, and top with a pinch of saffron. Enjoy warm before bedtime.