Relaxing into Daily Life
Culturally, we are just beginning to understand the benefits of relaxation, which is an elemental part of health and happiness. But despite the understanding that relaxation is fundamental to health, we find ourselves equally accustomed in our culture to moving so quickly. True relaxation remains an elusive state. With the remarkable rise of illnesses like chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression, it is time to cultivate a little more relaxation in everyday life.
In Ayurveda, health is rooted in synchronizing our daily rhythms with the cycles of the sun, moon, and the seasons. The word for this beautiful daily balance is dinacharya. The root of disease that fights this balance is when the mind moves faster than the physical body. To stay healthy, we must invoke dinacharya and align with the natural rhythms of nature. This means taking the time to slow down and let the rhythms of the body and nature set the pace of the mind. Essentially, to relax.
Relaxation gives the mind time to rest and fall into the groundedness of the body. Groundedness gives the organs and the body’s systems an opportunity to rejuvenate. However, as so many of us know relaxation isn’t always easy! No matter how many yoga classes or massages.
What Is Ayruveda?
Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.
So, what should you do to relax?
Before we dive into “what” we need to do to relax, we must start with something even more fundamental and understand HOW we are approaching our daily activities. Pause and ask yourself: How can I do the very next thing in a relaxed, mindful, and grounded way?
If you’re busy at work or wrangling the kids, can you notice your body and your breath? When you’re running late, can you let your belly relax and deepen your breathing? In this very moment, as you read this article, are you aware of your state of being?
The nervous system is trainable, like a puppy; it quickly falls into habituated patterns. Racing to that meditation class or wolfing down that “healthy” snack trains your nervous system to run at a faster pace, instead of laying down a pattern for a relaxed state. The good news is that the more you practice slowing down your nervous system, the easier it is for that rambunctious puppy to curl up in your lap and let out a nice long exhale. No matter what you endeavor to do for your health, remember to pause and focus on how you do it.
Now, let’s talk about some things to support the nervous system and induce relaxation.
Relaxation gives the mind time to rest and fall into the groundedness of the body. Groundedness gives the organs and the body’s systems an opportunity to rejuvenate.
The herbal category for a substance that tones and nourishes the nervous system is called a nervine. For example, one nervine we make is an herbal tea called Retreat and is specially formulated for relaxation and deep sleep. It includes lemon balm, valerian, oat straw, chamomile, passion flower, and red clover. And remember, as important as the effects of those herbs are, is how you drink the tea. When you are ready for some down time, make a cup of Retreat Herbal Tea. Take your time noticing the aromas, the warmth of the tea in your body, and enjoy it in a location where you can allow yourself to relax.
Eating the Good Fats
Wholesome fats and oils are the some of the most important nutrients for the nervous system. The nerves, the brain and the spinal cord all function with a necessary layer of fat around them, called myelination. If we don’t have enough healthy fats in our diet, these pathways get dry, ropey, and have a hard time letting the mind and body drop into deep states of relaxation.
In Ayurveda, the most revered fat is ghee, clarified butter that is easy to digest and helps the body absorb nutrients. We make a few special kinds of herbal-infused ghees. Ashwagandha Lavender Ghee, for example, is formulated especially for deep relaxation and rejuvenation. Ashwagandha is in the herbal category of an adaptogen, which means it helps the body recover from stress and supports balanced adrenal functioning. The adrenals get overworked with high-stress activities and can have a hard time allowing the body to return to a healthy relaxed, vital state. Lavender also helps with sleep and relaxation. Anjali also makes an Immunity Chai with spices that support digestion and this wonderful, restorative herb Ashwagandha.
Wearing the Good Fats
In addition to taking wholesome oils inside the body, we advise lavishing oil on the outside of the body. After all, the skin is the largest organ and its care has a direct relationship with relaxing the nervous system. Daily massaging of warm oils over the whole body is the quintessential ayurvedic ritual of self-love. Oil massage brings radiance to the skin and hair, cultivates a healthy sense of self while supporting muscle tone, circulation, and a relaxed nervous system. In Ayurveda, the beautiful word Sneha is used synonymously for oil and love.
Anjali Apothecary’s Harmonize Body Oil is formulated specially to support the nervous system and induce relaxation. This sesame oil infused with passion flower, ashwagandha and Shatavari support a healthy, stable nervous system that promotes deep relaxation. In the evening time, try a loving, self-massage before taking a bath, followed by a deep night’s sleep, or set-up an ayurvedic massage with our hand-made oils and seasonal aromatherapy.
Ojas: Living a Full and Balanced Life
There is a beautiful concept in Ayurveda that describes a healthy, loving, relaxed, stable nervous system called ojas. It means the vitality of something; it’s capacity for love, stability, and rejuvenation. Ojas is like the great, loving, full, and generous mother within all of us. Living a full life balanced with time for relaxation builds our vitality, our ojas.
Living in a culture with a very strong work ethic and a very high fatigue rate, we need to make time to recalibrate to the rhythms of nature. Time to slow down, to enjoy the sun, the moon, and whatever is at task in this very moment. Now is the time to relax in our daily life.
Anne Heart, owner of Anjali Apothecary & EnCenter Healing Arts, weaves ayurveda, yoga, and bodywork artfully into your healing journey. Her ayurvedic counseling sessions are seasonally oriented helping you to find your rhythm with mother earth in your daily life, your kitchen, and your body. Her bodywork includes ayurvedic oil massage, structural-integration, and pre-natal/ post-partum care.
Anne lives in Nederland, CO with her husband, son, and a new baby on the way!
About Anjali Apothecary
Anjali Apothecary is a small-scale, hand-crafted, 100% organic apothecary making medicine with love and mantras in rhythm with the sun, moon, and mother nature. We grow and wild-craft many of our herbs here in Colorado, and the rest are organically, ethically sourced.
Our ghees are prepared with organic, grass-fed butter providing optimal nutrition high in vitamins and omega fatty acids. All body oils are solar infused and kept low temperatures to preserve the healing quality of the oils. All our products, seasonal packages, and pregnancy/baby products are available online.