The morning wellness routine I started last year that I now can't live without
Ever heard of Ayurveda?
The ancient healing and wellness philosophy hails from India, and has been used for thousands of years as a method to heal the body and bring it into balance. It's being spoken about more in recent years as many in our western part of the world are also starting to see the benefits of this very holistic way of thinking about health.
In short, a simplistic way of looking at it is that where traditional western medicine's focus is on treating the body once an illness has occurred, Ayurveda seeks to promote health and wellbeing – and avoid the body getting sick in the first place.
There is obviously a lot more to both Ayurveda – and western medicine for that matter – but having studied some theory about it recently as part of my training to become a yoga teacher, I took note of some ideas, and started to incorporate these into my own day. And the result has been that I now genuinely look forward to getting up in the morning, excited for my very happiness-boosting little Ayurvedic morning routine.
I am a firm believer in that how you wake up and what you do when you wake up can drastically set the tone for how you will think and feel throughout the day. Which is why I have become so obsessed with this little morning routine of mine. It makes me feel awake, healthy and filled with energy for the day ahead. And I don't know about you, but those are all things I absolutely need more of in my busy life.
Ready to turn your mornings into the ultimate self-care ritual?
1. Hot lemon water
What you start (and end) your day with can actually have a huge impact on your health and body. When you wake in the morning, your body has been fasting (while you sleep) for hours, and you want to make sure you gently "wake up" your digestive system before you start your day of eating and drinking.
Drink a large glass of hot lemon water after waking up, and you'll boost your immune system (lemons are high in Vitamin C), balance your pH (lemons are a very alkaline food, which is all sorts of good for your health) and even kick-start your weight-loss (lemons are high in pectin fibre, which helps fight hunger cravings).
2. Dry brushing
In Ayurvedic tradition, showers or baths are viewed as something pretty sacred, as it helps purify your body, and often, there will be rituals tied to these as a way of honouring the body and showing it gratitude for all it does for you. One of these rituals is dry brushing before your morning shower.
Having written about beauty and wellness for years, I was already well aware of the benefits of dry brushing, I just didn't really think I had the time for that 'malarky' on a regular basis.
However, if you are to make time for one thing in the morning, make it this. Why? Because dry brushing has tons of benefits, stretching far beyond just keeping your skin smooth and firm. The most obvious benefit is that it feels invigorating and wakes you up in the morning. Also, dry brushing is a great way of exfoliating your skin, making sure you don't end up with ingrown hairs when shaving, and ensuring all your creams and lotions sink in quicker.
As well as this, dry brushing stimulates your lymphatic system, which in turn helps release toxins in your skin by allowing them to pass more freely. It removes dead skin cells, stimulates blood flow and helps cell regeneration and blood circulation.
Having now done it every morning since March, I can attest to how well it works. My skin looks and feels smooth, firm, and glowing. The ritual of doing the brushing in the morning has almost become a form of meditation, and I love how I can give myself this time and care – it really make all the difference to the start of my day.
3. Ice cold shower
OK, it might be a bit hard to sell this one – but let me tell you this: I have never felt better since starting my day with a cold shower.
Cold showers (or cold water, in general) has so many benefits: It boosts circulation, wakes you up, boosts energy levels, increases endorphins (the happiness hormone), improves metabolism, stimulates leukocytes – meaning if helps fight off infections in the body(!). Oh, and did I mention it also does wonder for your skin, making it firmer and more glowy?
Anyone who has heard about Wim Hof (did you catch that episode of The Goop Lab?!) will be no stranger to the many benefits of cold water for both our physical and mental health. It really wakes up your body on a whole new level, and I now genuinely look forward to my icy showers every morning.
Note: I always make sure my bathroom is warm and that I have a big, fluffy towel to wrap myself in for when I'm finished. As well as that, I leave my body lotion or body oil on the heated floor tiles, meaning that once I have dried off, I can rub warm oil or lotion on myself, all adding to that sense that I am doing something lovely and kind for myself first thing in the morning.
And what I have noticed, is that once I have started my morning like this, I am more likely to keep up this wellness state-of-mind throughout the day. I make healthier choices with food, I make sure I go to bed earlier, I feel like I am just kinder with myself – and if that isn't reason enough to treat yourself to a new morning routine, well, then I don't know what is.