Ayurveda means “knowledge of life / longevity” and is more than just natural medicine, it’s a way of living that fills the whole body, mind and spirit with true happiness and health. It can sometimes feel like a strange world of supplements and superfoods, but it’s really about listening to your body and living in sync with nature’s cycles – with practice it really can become intuitive. When I first started studying Ayurveda, I heard so many beautiful morning rituals I wanted to try. But after seeing routines of self care that lasted 1-2 hours every morning, it almost made me a little mad – “a 30 minute dry brush/self massage before a shower must be nice lady, but I’m lucky to brush my teeth with these kids.” First, I had to get over myself, stop making excuses and then I could begin to find creative, time efficient ways to incorporate Ayurvedic practices into mom life. Here are some Ayurveda “hacks” to help you stay grounded and nourished with limited time/minimal sleep:
By Jen Massman
1. Ritual Stacking – This is the idea of adding one or two little practices onto a previously established habit – like brushing your teeth. Decide on a practice you’d like to add (say gua-sha or dry brushing) and do it right before/after you brush your teeth. For me, I stack tongue scraping, brushing teeth and add a 30 second oil massage to my face and neck (something that felt too indulgent previously, but now is just a regular habit and makes me feel amazing!) I keep my tongue scraper, toothbrush and facial oil all right next to each other so there’s nothing slowing me down.
2. Breathwork – Another practice that felt too time consuming for me in a busy day, but let’s be real, parents are master multi-taskers – next time you sitting down to feed your baby, practice a few 4 – 7 – 8 breaths. Meaning, inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 and exhale for 8 counts. That long exhale puts your body in the parasympathetic nervous system, or rest & digest mode. For so much of the day we are doing little shallow breaths that keep us in low level anxiety all day. Instead of reaching for your phone right away, try a few cycles of 4-7-8 breaths when you sit down with your tot.
3. Eat lunch – This sounds like an obvious one, but so many parents breeze through the day on coffee and crumbs and miss the window when digestion is at it’s peak! The 10am-2pm time is our pitta time of day – meaning our digestive fire is ready to go (It also means it’s prime time to make decisions, get work done – be on fire!) When we skip lunch, we are preparing our bodies to be famished at 7pm and snack well into the night. It can be helpful if your kids nap and you can have a quiet moment to eat, but if not, make family lunch as ceremonial and special as possible. When you make the time to sit down and eat a decent sized lunch while your digestion is hot, any late night snacking needs will start to dissipate.
4. Use your fancy plates – How many parents are eating their kids’ leftover food while standing at the counter? Be honest! Even if you are eating mostly just leftover bites from your kid’s lunchbox, put it on a nice plate for yourself. It will feel more satisfying to sit down and eat the way you would serve a guest.
5. Chew (and model slow chewing for your kids – it will be one habit they won’t have to try to form as an adult!) Each bite should be chewed 20x times and to a paste-like consistency. So many folks have digestive issues that could be resolved or lessened greatly by slowing down to chew. Digestive enzymes are being activated and cranked into our stomachs when we are salivating and it’s a lot less work for our stomachs to break down our food. In fact, many cases of SIBO and digestive distress are due to food being poorly broken down and left to ferment in our intestines (hello bloating!) this can be greatly reduced by good chewing habits!
Parenting is a big job and everyday we can feel stretched to the limit. It is essential to have some tools to feel grounded and keep your body nourished well. Little daily habit tweaks make a big difference in your energy and in your whole body health!
Interested in learning more? Join us for Discover Ayurveda // Know Your Body, Know Your Balance next Wednesday, October 15th from 6pm-8pm. Learn how to apply Ayurveda to modern life, discover and understand your dosha, how to eat for the seasons and individual body type, and explore the six Ayurvedic taste and reignite your digestion. Tickets available on The Commune website.
If you are ever looking to make bigger, more individualized steps toward health, please reach out to Jen Massman at @pio.wellness