I’m often asked, what are the changes yoga brought into my life. Maybe once I take a calm minute and make a list, but here I want to share one thing I talk about surprisingly a lot to my friends: my morning routine, my morning cleansing techniques.
Those who know me well are aware, that not even the word “morning” is a friend of mine. We just can’t stand each other. I was never a morning person, and though I understand the possible benefits of starting the day early, I could never got used to and never got love to wake up early. For years I was just dreaming about having a different morning routine, than sitting on my sofa with a big mug (no, not a cup!) of coffee waiting for caffeine to help me out.
So, what do I have now instead of my usual route from bed to the kitchen, where my first thing was to start the coffee machine? My current morning routine is more conscious and healthy. And I keep this routine when I am away from home as well, it comes with me on my holiday, on my travels, my visit to my parents and on my adventures to the outdoors. This new routine is the morning cleansing ritual, also called kriya, or morning kriya.
My morning routine is a 4 step simple morning cleansing, that I can extend with further steps if I have the time for it.
Jihvamula Dhauti, purification of the tongue root. It is easy to find tongue scrapers in town, either a copper or stainless steel (mainly in bio- and organic shops, or in yoga shops) or the plastic version (in beauty chains). As part of the natural purification process of our body, during the night we produce a layer on our tongue full of bacteria. We remove this with the tongue scraper preventing it to get back to our system with the first sip of water or with the first bite. This also helps preventing bad smell of the mouth and assist in keeping the teeth healthy.
The tongue scraper is usually a U shaped tool. We hold the two stems while we put the middle of the U on the root of our tongue and pull it to the front, cleaning the surface of the tongue. Spit and clean the tool before every move and repeat until the saliva is clean.
I actually really like the feeling after, and as I keep my tongue scraper next to my toothbrush, it is hard to forget to use it.
The teeth root and the mouth
Next step in Dantamula Dhauti, cleaning of the teeth root. Traditionally you’d use salt or sea salt for this process. If you choose to do it, check the salt you use, it should be unprocessed and especially without iodine. You can put a bit of salt on the tip of your index finger, and gently and thoroughly rub your gums, the root of the teeth, the mucous membranes of your mouth, the inner surface and under the tongue as well. The aim of the method is similar to the previous: remove the bacteria and the waste layer from your mouth. When finished, rinse with clean water. This cleans the mouth as well gives you a clear mind and wakes you up.
I can offer two alternative methods. One is to rinse with organic coconut oil: take one or two teaspoon of coconut oil and rinse with it as long, as it becomes really condense and changes from transparent to white. It is an intense work for the muscles in your mouth and it will take some time – but it really feels nice. The other option is to wash your teeth thoroughly as usual. Now I understand the point of having almost only salty toothpaste available in Asia, because when you use them, you actually use the salt in a cream format to clean your teeth and mouth.
Jala Neti, cleaning the nostrils. I guess many of you used sea water nasal spray, when having a flue or in allergy season. I admit, I also had a small bottle at home, that I used for moisturizing the nasal lining when I had a nasty long flu. Since then I understood, that using the saline water is good not only when it is needed in case of sickness. And of course you don’t need the expensive version from the pharmacy, you can have DIY saline water. You only need clean water (purified or boiled), unprocessed salt and a suitable pot for the cleansing. Put one teaspoon salt into half a liter of water (I personally need more) and mix it. You will figure the right quantity for yourself: too much and too few salt in the water both hurts. Yes, it hurts even if you don’t have enough salt in the water. Do you remember the feeling of accidentally getting some fresh water in your nose when you are swimming in a lake or river? It would feel the same way intending to clean your nostril with fresh water. We put the saline water in a small pot (neti pot), that looks like a little tea pot. I mainly find ceramic versions in Hungary, but I personally use a super light plastic version.
First I check my nostrils and start with the side, where my nose is less blocked (this can change day by day). I put the narrow end of the pot to my nostril, slightly bend forward and turn my head towards the side where I put the neti pot. I open my mouth to close the throat, lift my elbow and change the angel of the pot, so the water flows into my nostril and flows out on the other side. Once the pot is empty I blow my nose to empty it and repeat the process on the other side.
This method cleans the nostrils, removes pollens, allergens, mucus and unblocks the nose. If you are a city person, it helps to remove the remainders of the smog. If you are a festival goer, it removes the dust inhaled. It results in a similar feeling to washing your teeth: a clean and fresh nose with more definite smell.
Caksu Dhauti, purification of the eyes. This is just a couple of extra movements after the cleaning of the nostrils, using the remainder of the same saline water. You put the liquid in your palm, place your eye in your palm, open it and blink a couple of times. I have to admit, I can’t really manage this version, so I developed my own, using a shot glass. I pour the body temperature saline water to the glass, put my eye on the glass, bend my head to the back, open the eye and blink. I bring my head back to the middle, pour another round of unused saline water into the glass, and repeat the process on the other side.
… and ready to go
Tadaaaam, that’s it, I’m ready to go. It may seem long, but it is not more than 10-15 minutes – zone out time included. If I have plenty of time in the morning, I can add extra techniques, such as nauli kriya, pranayama and meditation (I’ll write about these next time) and only drink my first sips of water once I finish. If I am running late, I start drinking water after the 4th step and no extra step is added. After drinking I wait a couple of minutes so my body registers it, and have my breakfast only afterwards.
I really like this morning routine and I believe it has a good effect on my body. Ever since I use it every day, I feel way healthier than before.
If you got inspired to try this practice but have questions about any of the tools of the techniques, contact me! I am happy to clarify.