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Ayurveda in the Shower
Ayurveda is famous for recommending a lengthy and elaborate morning to-do list as part of something called dinacharya, translated as daily routine. Many Ayurvedic practitioners are guilty, as I was early in my career, of prescribing a laundry list of Ayurvedic techniques, including dinacharya, that often overwhelmed patients.
Yes, you can start your day with a glass of warm lemon water, tongue scraping, oil pulling, daily self-massage (abhyanga), neti, nasya, ear oiling (karna purana), and marma head massage. Then if you have any time left you can try and squeeze in the most important stuff like your yoga, breathing, and meditation, and breakfast, and oh yes, it would be nice to get to work sometime before noon! Well, here’s a more accessible, abbreviated version that can help you save time and still secure many of the primary benefits of dinacharya.
We Recommend Ayurvedic Daily Routine (Dinacharya)
Save Time with John Douillard’s 7-Step Ayurvedic Shower Routine
While taking your daily shower, you can check off seven powerful Ayurvedic health-promoting rituals. Plug these into your shower routine and reap the benefits in a fraction of the time.
1. Tongue Scraping
Start your Ayurveda in the shower with tongue scraping, preferably with an antiseptic copper tongue scraper as copper is the only truly antiseptic metal. Tongue scraping will kick-start your digestive metabolism and remove undesirable bacteria that can cause plaque accumulation on your teeth, arteries, and brain, while removing bacteria that cause bad breath.1
Need a tongue scraper? Get one here.
2. Oil Pulling
After tongue scraping, use about an ounce of LifeSpa’s Swish, a traditional oil pulling formula with sesame oil, coconut oil, turmeric, and peppermint. Ayurvedic oil pulling has been studied to fight plaque and reduce volatile sulfur compounds that cause bad breath. Keep swishing until the end of your shower, as it takes time for the oils to saponify, or turn from oil into a more soap-like substance, and become activated as antiseptic for your mouth.2,9 Plus, by the end of your shower, it will be safe for your drain as well.
3. Daily Oil-Massage
After washing and shampooing, give yourself abyhanga, or daily oil massage, to balance your vata and calm your nervous system with an herbalized Ayurvedic massage oil.
For best vata-balancing results, use LifeSpa’s Tri-Dosha Massage Oil, or for decongesting and cleaning skin and lymph, use LifeSpa’s Lymphatic Massage Oil. These oils nourish beneficial bacteria on your skin. Avery little massage oil goes a long way in the shower, so you’ll only need a small amount. Use circular strokes over your joints and belly and long strokes over your arms and legs. Spend some extra time on your feet. Abyhanga in the shower will leave a light film of oil that does not soil your towels and takes the place of a moisturizing lotion.3
We Recommend 5 Reasons for Self-Massage (Abhyanga)
4. Head Massage
At the end of the abyhanga, give yourself a vigorous Ayurvedic head marma-point massage, which has been shown to increase brain lymphatic circulation, or tarpaka kapha in Ayurveda. The brain drains three pounds of toxic material and plaque into brain lymphatics each year. Ayurvedic head massage has been studied for its ability to increase brain lymphatic circulation and detox the brain.4 For this you can use one of the Ayurvedic massage oils on your finger tips and massage the oil into the scalp or just use your fingers without oil and give yourself a vigorous scaly massage through your wet hair.
We Recommend Do this Marma Point Scalp Massage with Newly Discovered Benefits
5. Ear Oiling
Next, use the practice of karna purana, or ear oiling, to increase brain lymphatic flow and enhance more subtle and refined hearing. Use a couple drops of either LifeSpa’s Nasya Oil or Tri-Doshic Massage Oil in both ears, close the flaps, and massage your ears for 30-60 seconds.6
Optional: Neti in the shower is extremely convenient as long as you prepare the neti pot with sterile water prior to getting in the shower. Neti is not considered a part of an Ayurvedic daily routine, but rather as a therapy that can be employed as needed. If you choose to perform neti in the shower, it can be done at this stage after discarding the Swish, or in the beginning of the shower before you add in oil pulling.
Need a neti pot? Find one here.
After neti, perform nasya, which is inhaling three to five drops of LifeSpa’s Nasya Oil into both nostrils. Sniff deeply to clear the sinuses and support brain lymphatic flow.5
We Recommend At-Home SAN (Sagittal Sinus Abhyanga Nasya): Cleanse Your Sinuses + Emotional Baggage
BONUS: End with a Himalayan Cold Water Finish
For the brave, finish your shower by gradually turning the water from hot to cold. Try to end with a two-minute traditional Ayurvedic cold shower, classically performed by all yogis to boost brown fat, lower blood sugar, and stimulate your metabolism to turbo-charge your day with clean and vital energy.7 The science is based on the study of hormeses which suggests that, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!
We Recommend Hot Science on Cold Showers (How-To: Contrast Bathing)
Don’t Skip Breakfast
With these morning routine shortcuts, you may now have more time to enjoy a health breakfast. Breakfast is one of the two most important meals of the day. Skip supper if you must, but the importance of a good breakfast and lunch are key to a healthy dinacharya and now backed by new circadian science.8
18 thoughts on “7 Ayurvedic Rituals to Energize Your Morning”
Wow! Quite the routine! In the winter I skip daily showers so does this routine help if done 3x per week? Also, I make my own Hemp salve from Organic Hemp which I grow, is that a good oil replacing your suggestion?
Thanks for your great info…
Any amount of time to fit this routine in your day is great! For best vata-balancing results we do recommend a tri-dosha or lymphatic massage oil.
Cold shower after oiling your ?
If you want to oil after the cold shower do you do on wet skin? Will the pores be closed and reduce efficiency
If Vata best to avoid cold shower?
This article might help with your questions regarding showering:
Studies show cold temperatures are not proven to close pores, so applying oil after the shower should not reduce the effects.
Oiling feet in the shower is so dangerous. I fell through a glass shower door as a child on a slippery shower floor. Please amend that recommendation. It’s a reckless act to oil feet in the shower. Actually the whole routine of using so much oil in the shower is dangerous. Please rethink this post. Also new science tells us not to shower so much as it disturbs the skin microbiome. Especially in winter I only shower twice a week.
I agree with Susan, please don’t use so much oil in the shower!!! Not just dangerous for you , but for the next person to use the bath/shower who may not be expecting it to be so slippy! I love this protocol as an alternative to a shower 🙂
To deal with the oil in the tub, I keep a small bottle of dish soap at the edge of the tub. I scrub it with a scrub brush along the bottom of the tub, rinse with hot. Only takes a minute.
I don’t believe there is lymph flow to the brain because of the blood brain barrier, but would appreciate it if you could please explain this. i saw a footnote the end of this sentence on brain lymph flow but it is not clear where the actual notes are! Please elaborate, and thanks.
The cerebral spinal fluid is lymph fluid in the brain. In western science it is called the Glymphatic system that acts a brain detox system. Check our articles on brain lymph and see the science. It is quite fascinating.
Thanks for your comment.
Yes his articles on the lymph etc and the brain are great. I can feel a def difference doing the intensive nasya oil treatment followed by a ginger drops treatment. Amazing
I have started applying the oil right and doing the massage right after I step out of the shower, then let myself air dry while I do my hair/face. Keeps the oil out of my tub, and pipes.
What about Garshana? Can it be skipped if we are doing abhyanga?
In this daily routine we do recommend abhyanga for the daily massage. You may incorporate garshana if it is something you would like to also include in your routine.
I love the cold shower bit, but I do abyanga after I get out, does the cold close the pores and hinder the absorption of oil on the body?
This article might help:
Stuides show that neither hot or cold temperatures are proven to open or close pores, so performing the self oil massage after the shower should have no negative effect.
How does this cold shower affect Vata? Sudden changes and cold are Vata increasing, right? Can you please elaborate on how people with Vata constitution should approach this. Or avoid this all together? Thanks!
This article should answer your questions!
thank you for your info. Well taken. Before I take my hydrotherapy, shampooing etc. I drybrush my body, saltrub. Then 7 times hot, 7 times cold, finish off with a cold blast. Out of the shower I apply the lymph oil head to toe, special attention to the lymphatic nodes on head, armpits and others. will do oilpulling my ears from now on. Thanks, Dr John for sharing your knowledge!