When I first started practicing yoga, I was driven by both spiritual and emotional factors, but I also wasn’t getting any younger and felt the need to do what I could to maintain my physical body.
I had no idea how deep the practices would take me! Not only would they offer the realization that I was more than the physical, and that the physical body was a temple, they would also purify, rejuvenate and beautify this sacred vessel.
From this came the desire to care deeply for this temple my soul had been given and to make this devotion part of my daily yoga routine.
I would like to share with you a few of the practices that have been shared through Ayurveda and Kundalini Yoga for yogic body care.
Oil Massage/Cleansing – Oh, how oils are loved by Ayurveda and Yogis! Covering your insides and outsides with oil is as nourishing as you can get for mind and body! Topical daily application of oil to the skin is rejuvenating and enables the skin to hold more moisture and reflect a beautiful glow. Over the years, I have followed the yogic practice of applying more oil to the skin while also reducing the amount of soap used on all but the more fragrant body parts. It is incredible the difference it has made on my skin! Instead of washing my face with soap, I wash my face with oil, removing any excess oil with a warm washcloth. This removes the excess oils and any make-up and leaves the skin radiant instead of playing a balancing game to restore pH and protective oils. Please use high quality cold press oils, like almond, jojoba, marula, avocado and coconut.
Cold Showers - Let me say that no one likes this idea and one must warm to it! What inspired me to try cold showers was remembering my daring as a youth growing up in Tahoe and the rush I would get jumping into the icy lake waters. That rush is better than a cup of coffee to get you going in the morning! The cold plunge or cold shower also stimulates the circulation of all the blood vessels, including the tiny vessels called capillaries that rarely get the opportunity to clear themselves of toxins. This practice offers a powerful boost to the immune system and offers incredible rejuvenation to the skin. Just 3 minutes of a cold shower is said to be worth 30 minutes of Kundalini Yoga!
The cold shower includes dry brushing the skin with a skin brush or garshan gloves and then applying a thin coat of oil to the skin. The dry brushing removes old skin cells and increases circulation. The oil protects the skin and neutralizes toxins.
Rub the skin vigorously with a towel while drying off after a cold shower to create a lasting warmth and invigoration.
Tongue scraping – This simple practice does a world of good for your oral and digestive health. You can purchase a tongue scraper online or at most health food stores. To practice tongue scraping, just pull the tongue scraper across your tongue from the back of your mouth to the front to clear away undigested food, or ama, and bacteria that can cause bad breath. You can do this before eating to stimulate digestion and detoxification.
Hair Care - The hair is very sensitive and is a tool for us in our spiritual practices. Rishis and yogis have coiled their hair on the top of the head to draw energy and awareness to the crown, and even covered their hair to insulate from the effects of the sun and to create calm and strength in their presence.
We can do this too, using cloth headbands, knit caps, hair wraps, scarves or turbans.
I encourage everyone to experience what a difference it makes to have your hair covered -- to me, it feels like having a cozy cocoon all around you.
This is especially helpful if you are feeling overly sensitive or anxious: just pull the hair up into a bun or cover it with a hat to help filter energy.
Of course, I also love wearing my long hair down, but I am sure to take good care to have a light oil like jojoba on the ends of my hair. Brushing the hair with a wooden comb or natural bristle brush throughout the day can keep hair untangled and smooth while releasing built up energy gathered in the hair. It is a beautiful practice in the evening before bed as well.
Incorporating a few yogic body care practices into your day is sure to make a big shift in how you feel about yourself. When we feel amazing, we look amazing, so enjoy these simple practices that help us get there!