1. SandalwoodFor thousands of years, Sandalwood has been used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiviral, sedative, and disinfectant. Throughout time, the use of Sandalwood has also been an integral part of ritual in many cultures and used in ceremonies from celebrating birth to the practices honoring the deceased.
Here’s how to use it: When diffused in your home or office, Sandalwood oil has a distinctive woody fragrance that elevates the energy in your space, calming the mind and enhancing concentration and relaxation. If used internally for medicinal purposes, we suggest checking with a health care professional, as everyone’s constitutional needs are uniquely different.
2. Tongue ScrapingMost people wake in the morning with a fuzzy coating on their tongue. When we sleep toxins caused by improper digestion accumulate in the mouth. The coating is a layer of plaque and bacteria that can cause everything from bad breath, tooth decay, and even heart disease. In Sanskrit, this coating is known as ama, and it will reabsorb in the body if not removed by you first thing in the morning.
You can remove this coating on your tongue using a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers come in metal or plastic and can be purchased online or at health food and grocery stores.
Here’s how to use it: Move the scraper from the back of your tongue to the tip gently. Try not to apply too much pressure. Scrape three to five times or until the coating is removed, then rinse your mouth and the scraper.
3. Oil PullingAs tongue scraping removes ama on the tongue, oil pulling removes the bacteria and plaque from the teeth. It aids in overall oral health by also reducing inflammation, and is quite simple to do.
In India, the tradition is to use sesame oil, but we have found using coconut oil to be just as effective and better tasting—although both work well. Coconut oil mixed with your saliva has antifungal and antibacterial properties to it.
Here’s how to use it: This method is done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Use one teaspoon to one tablespoon of organic coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil and swish in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t swallow the mixture. You’ll know when you are “done” when the oil becomes opaque and milky appearing. Spit it out, rinse out your mouth, and then brush your teeth. Do this method right after tongue scraping and see if your dental checkups don’t improve substantially!
4. Abhyanga, or Self-MassageIf you want to calm your nervous system, help remove toxins, and give your skin a beautiful glow, Abhyanga is key. This self-massage is done before bathing using a gentle stroking motion. It also improves lymph and blood circulation as well as eliminates fatigue.
You can use many different oils, including combining them for specific effects. We like to use sesame oil for its many healing properties, or a combination of sesame and coconut oil. Whatever you use, we recommend you make sure it is good quality and organic, if possible.
Here’s how to use it: Heat the oil by placing the bottle in a sink filled with warm water for a few minutes. Warmed, this oil readily absorbs into the skin. You can either apply the oil in the shower or standing or sitting on a towel on the bathroom floor.
You don’t need a lot of oil for this process, only one or two ounces. If you are going to wash your hair, you can do your head and ears as well as your face. Cover your shoulders arms, chest, breasts, stomach, and buttocks in a circular motion using the palm of your hand. Using the same motion, go around your joints, but use a longer, stroking motion on the bones of your arms and legs. Don’t forget your fingers, feet, wrists, and ankles. Try to use as little soap as possible and let the warmth of the shower help penetrate the healing benefits of this health-giving technique.
5. Yogic BreathingNadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a technique that purifies the mind, bringing you into the present moment—the most potent place of creation. When the mind is stressed, it can easily become overstimulated and you will have difficulty focusing. This simple, but powerful, technique balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and reduces mental chatter.
Here’s how to use it: Close the eyes, spine erect and shoulders relaxed, breath relaxed and slow. Use the thumb and forefinger of the right hand to alternately close each nostril during the exercise. First, close the right nostril with your right thumb and slowly exhale and inhale through the left nostril. Then, close the left nostril with your right forefinger and slowly exhale and inhale through the right nostril.
Do nine repetitions of this method and then relax your hands and place them face up on your knees. Take a moment to feel the peace in your mind and the relaxed, but alert, energy moving through your body. Do this exercise whenever you feel stressed or at the beginning of your morning and/or evening meditation practice.
6. Chanting to Purify You and Your FoodWe are a big proponent of how specific sounds can have a healing influence and have seen the positive, purifying influence specific mantras (sacred chants in the Sanskrit that emit frequencies) have on you, your home, and workspace. Here’s a wonderful mantra we chant before meals. Using it will infuse the food you eat with its health-giving benefits. It will also aide your digestion.
Here’s how to use it: Before you begin eating, sit with your eyes closed and, with your meal in front of you, chant these words within the mind three times.
Mantra: Om Namah Shivaya
Phonetic pronunciation: Om Na-mah She-vai-ya
7. Chanting to Purify Your EnvironmentAs practitioners of Vastu, we view your physical environment as the “body of your body.” When you shift your mindset from seeing your surroundings as just a home or an office to a living organism that has influence on your health, success, relationships, and well-being, it will transform the way you see the world.
Here is a mantra you can use daily that honors and enlivens the consciousness of your physical space. It is a way to acknowledge that even though you are seemingly alone, you are always supported by that which is felt, but not seen.
Here’s how to use it: Chant this mantra three times every morning upon arising and whenever you want support from Nature.
Mantra: Om Vastupurushaya Namaha
Phonetic pronunciation: Om Va-stu-poo-ru-shai-ya Na-ma-ha
Over time, these additions to your daily rituals will have a positive influence. You will see that when you place your awareness on yourself with loving attention and kindness, the world reflects that kindness back to you.