This Valentine’s Day, take some time and reflect on what you are doing to achieve the goal of becoming an incredibly powerful source of love, whether you spend it solo or with a partner.
- Start the morning with yoga.
The sun salutation is a complete Ayurvedic exercise also known as Surya Namaskara. This series of postures simultaneously integrates the whole physiology including mind, body, and breath. It strengthens and stretches all the major muscle groups, lubricates the joints, conditions the spine, massages the internal organs and increases blood flow and circulation. (1)
- Write a love letter and tap into your anandamaya kosha (the bliss sheath).
Write a letter to someone you love fully, completely, someone you trust with all your heart. Tell them all the ways that you love and appreciate them. While writing it, know that they will never read this letter. It is for your eyes only. As you write it, become aware of how you feel.
You will see that as you write this letter, you will actually feel loved, appreciated, cared for, and even important. All the things we so desperately think we need from someone else to make us feel good, we actually experience all by ourselves when we give love freely, without any concern that the other person will love us back.
- Infuse your food with love.
Always prepare, cook and eat your food with love, even if time is short. Infuse your food with a positive emotional charge.
If the mind is over-stimulated, stressed, or distracted (rajasic) while cooking and/or eating, the food will be charged with stress and hurry. If the mind is depressed or withdrawn (tamasic) while eating, the food will be negatively charged. If one is cooking and/or eating in a relaxed, calm (sattvic) manner, the food will be positively charged.
- Relax and dine.
Valentine’s weekend (and any other time for that matter), relax and dine. No eating on the run or in front of the TV. If the thought of cooking triggers you to stress or rush, order takeout from your favorite restaurant, set a beautiful table, light a candle and enjoy a relaxing royal meal that you didn’t have to cook.
Sit at the table after the meal to relax and digest over a cup of herbal tea and some good contemplation or conversation.
- Eat with your fingers.
Eating with your hands means you can’t read, check email, text, or answer the phone. With food all over your fingers, you are stuck doing one thing at a time, and this is the time to eat. Eating with the fingers allows all the senses to be stimulated and involved in the process of eating.
Eating with your hands also allows the many thousands of microbes on the food to get acquainted with the many thousands of microbes on your fingers. Our hands feel the world around us, attaching to microbes found on almost everything we touch. (2) As all these microbes are ingested, they act as your evolutionary eyes of change.
- Take a walk.
After your meal, take a walk breathing through the nose to drive more prana (life force) into the body. Slow, deep, abdominal and nose breathing (nasal breathing) has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (famously known for the “rest and digest” relaxation response), which is responsible for bodily restoration and rejuvenation. New studies are linking deep breathing to numerous and profound health benefits. (3)
Taking a 15-minute walk after meals has been shown to lower after-meal blood sugar levels. (5,6,7)
Studies have also shown that taking a walk shortly after a meal supports healthy weight loss compared to not walking or waiting an hour after the meal. (8,9)
- Prep a bath for a loved one or yourself and add a few drops of aromatherapy.
- For those with a primarily pitta dosha: sandalwood, marjoram, or benzoin resin oil (which is vanilla-scented) are best.
- For those with a primarily kapha dosha: marjoram, frankincense, rose, or ylang-ylang essential oils are best.
- For those with a primarily vata dosha: sweet orange, geranium rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, or frankincense are best.
- Give a massage to your partner or yourself.
Massage (abhyanga) releases the infamous oxytocin bonding hormone. (10,11) Oxytocin has been studied to increase when one feels trust and/or empathy. It is the giving hormone, released during acts of appreciation, gratitude, emotional connections and giving touch.
The sense of touch has also been linked to healing. The laying on of hands has been described in many traditions as a form of energetic healing. While the mechanism for this form of healing has yet to be fully understood, much has been written about the healing power of touch.
Breathing, called Pranayama in Sanskrit, is a balancing way to start and end each day. Follow this breathing technique for 5-10 minutes at least once per day, and ideally twice per day. You can do the breathing practices anytime of the day that works best for you.
The aim of breathing meditation techniques to pump prana and oxygen into the brain, allowing for greater stillness and a deeper experience of calm. (4)
- Prepare an ojas tonic before bed.
Ojas (OH-jas) is considered to be the most refined by-product of digestion, said to reside in the heart. Ayurveda considers ojas to be an essence of nature and a cosmic substance that directly influences our experience of life.
A plentiful reserve of ojas is reflected in the luster of the eyes, radiance of the skin (that glow so detectable in babies and pregnant women), potent fertility, tenacious immunity, strong digestion and clarity of mind.
Certain herbs in Ayurveda are also prized as great ojas-builders. Traditionally, a concoction of these herbs, including Ashwagandha and Shatavari, were blended with ojas-building foods like dates, almonds, coconut, saffron, ghee, honey and cardamom in a milk base. This mixture was warmed and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder to boot.