I have been wanting to write again for weeks and have subjects coming out of my ears, but the one I have been thinking about most of is this – My Morning Rituals. Being a human (albeit part Unicorn), I am a creature of habit, so it would make sense I enjoy doing the same things often. But this is not a blog about just THINGS, they are my rituals, defined as:
“A religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.”
I definitely do treat these things that I do in the above manner and find that beginning my day in a positive way really gives me strength and helps me to continue the rest of the day focused and productive. This way of beginning each and every day is just another step on my path to a life of health and happiness (both of which lead to the other and are really intertwined for me). My morning rituals all really and absolutely contribute TOWARDS my health, none of them take anything away. So, what comes first?
The ancient Ayuverdic ritual of Oil Pulling. Before I started this in 2014 I had been intrigued for a long time, because it seemed like a very simple and most importantly NATURAL way to cleanse and heal the body. Traditionally, you should use sunflower or sesame oil, (but my fave is coconut oil) and swish or swoosh 1 tablespoon around in the mouth, on an empty stomach, for 20 minutes and then SPIT (NEVER SWALLOW 🙂 – the oil is full of toxins that you definitely do not want to take back in). My first go was ok, but felt a bit gross! I think I managed about 5 minutes or so before I had to spit, but I persevered and now oil pull for about 20 minutes every morning. Including when I get up super early for my 6 or 7am yoga class, and ESPECIALLY when I am hungover (which to be honest does not happen to often now) because the benefits I feel are so great, it actually helps to cure my hangover! YES REALLY 🙂 Essentially, it works by pulling all the nastiness from throat, gums and teeth, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. It’s fantastic for oral hygiene, reduces and prevents plaque build up, stops bleeding gums, soothes sensitive teeth, lowers inflammation, Detoxifies, Reduces allergies, chest congestion and even stomach issues, I even had compliments on how white my teeth were once I had been pulling for a few weeks! Overall, I find oil pulling to be a very simple, affordable yet extremely effective method in aiding my body’s natural detoxification systems. Post-pull, my mouth feels squeaky clean and also my mind clear and ready for the day. When I spit out the pulled oil it looks so disgusting that I feel so pleased to get rid of it!!! It clearly has taken lots of overnight toxins with it – the pulled oil turns thick and white-ish in colour, and kind of foams….. Ewww, which is why you must spit immediately, into a bin (never into a sink or toilet in case the oil solidifies and causes a blockage) and then rinse your mouth with warm water.
I build it easily into my morning – it is the first thing that goes in my mouth when I get up, and I swill the oil around for 20 mins whilst I prepare my warm drink to take on the tube and get ready for my shower. I switch between coconut oil and sesame oil, depending on how I feel. Before you knock it try it, you will be amazed! Especially if you are feeling a bit sluggish, and find it hard to get going in the morning. HAPPY PULLING 🙂
Second is Viparita Karani I don’t always have time in the morning, but if I do I always try to lay for a couple of minutes in Viparita Karani. It helps me focus my mind for the day ahead as I use the time to try and meditate on my breath. And, actually, I do this normally a few times a day! Sometimes in the gym after I have stretched and in the evening too. Viparita Karani is often called Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, but viparita actually means “inverted,” and karani means “in action.” So basically, it means putting upside down the natural actions that happen in our bodies when we sit and stand. The result? Lymph and other fluids that can lead to swollen ankles, tired knees, and congested pelvic organs flow into the lower belly; this refreshes the legs and the reproductive area. This pose also gives blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head, which creates a pleasant rebalancing after you have been standing or sitting for a long time. I actually feel a really lovely relief getting into this pose after a long day on my feet (I spend a lot of my day walking around London to meetings), it feels so grounding…… I hope you enjoy it if you haven’t already.
Third is my morning hot drink of lemon, ginger and turmeric (sometimes a bit of cayenne too!) I used to be a huge coffee lover. I would happily drink 3 -4 strong cups of coffee every morning, all the while thinking (alright, KNOWING) that it probably was not the best thing for me but not really having the motivation to stop. Then I went on Bikram Yoga Teacher Training where one of our main daily missions was staying hydrated. In week 1 Bikram’s wife Rajashree mentioned that, if we were drinking coffee, we should think about if we really needed to because it is dehydrating. And at that moment I thought “oh yeah, of course it is. What am I doing!!!” and I stopped. That was April 2014 and since that day I have had 3 coffees. One in about September 2014 and 2 in Jan 2015. I don’t miss the coffee, it made my body extremely acidic and seemed to affect me a lot as someone who is highly sensitive (this seems to be a trait I carry both emotionally and physically. If I am around negative people and situations I really really struggle – one of the many reason I now do not read or watch the news, but that is another story! In short, my personal view is, if I want to go out into world and impact people and situations in a happy, positive way, I need and want to be this way myself. It doesn’t mean I am blind to world events reported in the news, I just find out about them in a different way, and that means that I am better equipped to help in the small way I can- but anyway, I digress!!) Coffee increases acidity, affects mineral absorption (in particular the hard to replenish magnesium), it’s a diuretic, heightens stress and anxiety and has no nutritional value. Depending on the beans you buy it can also be quite toxic. I know some people can drink coffee and not feel any negative effects but for me, “quiting” was the right decision. I also noted after my first cup in September I had insane heart palpitations and could not eat all day!!! That cemented in my mind I had made a great choice for my health, and digestive tract!
What I did miss was the ritual of making and enjoying a hot drink. So I replaced it with a drink that I like to think of as my life elixir! It contains 3 ingredients, all steeped in hot water: the juice of 1 lemon, few slices of ginger root and few slices of turmeric root (sometimes if I fancy it I add a pinch of cayenne, if i’m feeling a bit coldy, or a pinch of cinnamon,which also has anti-inflammatory properties and can stabilize blood sugar). I make this in a flask whilst I am oil pulling, stir and then close the lid of my flask so it can steep for 30 minutes or so. When I come to drink it on the tube it is just the right temperature. So, what is so great about these ingredients????? Well they are all “heros” in their own right, each with insane health benefits, but when combined taste so delicious and invigorating. So, let’s start with my BIG HERO…Turmeric. I am OBSESSED with it and try to consume it as much as I can because I know that it is just so so good and has an amazing list of benefits, both when consumed and applied to the skin (yes – I HAVE done this. NO, I did not end up looking like an oompa loompa – my skin actually felt really smoothe and looked FRESH! Recipe: 1 tsp turmeric; 1 tsp honey; little drop of milk to form a paste. Apply to skin for 20 minutes and then wash off with cold water….Turmeric is used LOADS in Ayuverda skin remedies, for cuts, healing wounds etc)
In Ayurveda, turmeric is known as a powerful antioxidant that fights cancer-causing free radicals and has great impact on the liver, it’s also an antiseptic, helps boost immunity, which makes it a powerful health prevention tool, benefits the digestive system and purifies the blood. Turmeric has INCREDIBLE anti-inflammatory properties. We likely all struggle with some sort of inflammation in our bodies, so the more anti-inflammatory foods we can consume the better. Lemons contain high levels of potassium and vitamin C, which is one of the most ‘important antioxidants in nature’. These powerful antioxidants neutralize free radicals , which can cause inflammation. Lemons also contain flavonoids to help attack and stop cancer cells from growing. Lemons are so full of healing properties!! On consumption, they also become alkaline plus as a mild diuretic, they help support the liver and kidneys in their natural job of flushing out toxins. Ginger , like lemons, also holds anti-inflammatory benefit. It also eases gas and bloating, indigestion, constipation, is helpful with motion sickness and helps promote healthy sweating which is great if you’re feeling under the weather, sweating is a great way to get the toxins out (I actually sometimes pop a piece of ginger into my bath to aid the detoxifying process, or a few drops of ginger essential oil. The first time I had fresh ginger in the bath Ross came in and said “Why are you bathing with pineapple?!“) Fresh ginger contains something called gingerol, which possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and aids in healthy cellular activity in the gastrointestinal tract. SERIOUSLY!!!!! WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS MIX?!?!?! You NEED this in your life. I get so many envious looks when I sip it all angelically on the tube. I can literally feel it warming and reviving me, ready for the long day ahead (and as a yoga teacher, spin instructor, full-time media person, and, mother of cats, my days are always long).
So, this is it. My Morning Rituals. I hope it helps inspire someone like me, on a path to discovering natural, wholesome health and wellbeing. Over the next few blogs I will be thinking about other things that have helped me, and the things that continue to help, interest and inspire me, in a dreamy, Unicorny way….Namaste 🙂