By Kathryn Templeton
In yoga philosophy, we speak about consciousness. We refer to yogic texts that offer practices to help us raise our awareness and become more present. So why isn’t everyone feeling the bliss on the awareness-raising, higher-consciousness train of joy?
Our minds need to buy into the whole operation. The yoga and Ayurvedic texts tell us that our nature is sattva, or clarity and balance; our mind is essentially joy. This can be a challenging concept. After all, it may not feel like your mind’s nature is joy.
The biological model tells us that our brain’s number one job is to keep the organism (that’s you) alive. Often the behaviors we engage in to survive feel less than joyful. Sometimes the desire for happiness and the need to stay alive feel at odds. This is where we begin to sacrifice our need for joy and focus more of our precious energy and attention on staying alive.
These two agendas do not have to be separated. Through our yoga practices, we can develop support for our survival, building adaptability and resilience while establishing an awareness of our essential joy. In Ayurvedic practices, the daily routine (dinacharya) offers us a way to start each day with the same self-supporting practices: rising with gratitude, tongue scraping, drinking warm water with lemon, belly breathing practices, and body oiling before bathing. This daily routine provides an anchor of support, helping us to develop adaptability and resilience by decreasing decision fatigue as we know what to expect. This provides a solid foundation on which to build every morning, allowing us to approach each day with less stress and more joy!
Creating a morning routine will go far to support steadiness and ease without the decision fatigue that results from the “wake-up chaos” many of us call “morning time.” Try including a few of these easy-to-implement suggestions into a morning routine that will work for your life.
Nine Simple Practices to Create Healthful Mind Patterns
1. Get up at dawn.
2. Establish a daily cleansing and nurturing routine (dinacharya).
3. Allow yourself the time needed to evacuate wastes fully every morning. Rushing hinders the process.
4. Eat nourishing meals, cooked with nourishing oils, three times a day.
5. Practice deep relaxation or meditation, or walk quietly in nature.
6. Go to bed at the same time almost every night (preferably between 10 and 11 p.m.).
7. Move your body enough to break a light sweat every day.
8. Offer gratitude to something greater than yourself—for your life and for the people and things that are most important to you.
9. Become aware of your heart’s desire and your innate passion, and explore those impulses.
As we build mental impressions (samskaras) around these daily actions, we bring more prana (life force), tejas (discrimination), and ojas (deep vitality) to our lives. We start to create new neural grooves or patterns in our brains which will feed our minds in moving slowly and steadily toward clarity and balance—and, ultimately, toward joy.
Kathryn Templeton, AP, MA, RDT/MT, E-RYT 500, is a NAMA Certified Ayurvedic practitioner and faculty member at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. She will be conducting the Himalayan Institute Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist (HIAYS) training program at Weston Yoga, beginning November 10.
Weston Yoga is located at 2600 Glades Cir., Ste. 400, Weston. For more information, call 954-349-6868 or visit WestonYoga.com.