Rejuvenation is a profound practice that can provide relief from acute and/or ongoing stress or illness. Restorative practices boost our mental and physical energy while allowing us to work on recovery and ultimately help us be our best selves. The Ayurvedic term for rejuvenation is rasayana (deep nourishment) which are practices, foods, and drinks that build and restore. The word comes from rasa which means essence or taste, and ayana, or path. Here are a few reasons for rejuvenation and easy ways to bring rasayana into our routines.
The Link Between Stress and Natural Toxins
Chronic stress and illness are inherently depleting, and they often go hand-in-hand. When the body is overtaxed by normal daily activities and the wear-and-tear of stress or illness, digestion becomes compromised and ama begins to accumulate. Ama is the Ayurvedic term for metabolic waste, which is said to come from incomplete digestion of food, emotions, and life experiences. Ama shows up in the body in a variety of ways: bad breath, body odor, stiff joints, and fatigue. This waste is collected in the bodily tissues and removed through bodily wastes such as urine, feces, sweat, and exhalation.
When too much ama is generated, the body can’t keep up with ‘taking out the trash’. Consequently, waste builds up and begins to impede our energy and vitality, which makes simple daily chores even more taxing. Excess ama and waste build-up directly depletes ojas our natural immunity and resiliency. Healthy ojas, and the elimination of ama, is the key to remaining vibrant and strong, and successfully managing chronic stress.
Curious about how well you are eliminating ama? Check your tongue in the morning. If you see a thick opaque coating, it is likely ama!
Meditation—One Part of Rejuvenation
In the western medical model, as well as Ayurveda, meditation is taught as a basic tool to ease the effects of stress and support well-being. More and more health management programs, like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness, teach meditation to release stress and effectively manage pain. Similarly, Ayurveda teaches that meditation, detoxification, and rebuilding strategies, incorporated during and after treatment, help to move ama out of the body, bolster recovery, and support healthy ojas.
Practices that are rejuvenative in nature gently remove natural toxins, support absorption and assimilation of nutrients through healthy digestion, and encourage deep rest, relaxation, and recovery. These practices are intended to make you feel good while they do good in your body.
Here are a few forms of rasayana (rejuvenating practices) that can be done at home to help manage chronic illness and stress, or offer support when life just seems overwhelming. These rasayana practices help to unclog ama and build vibrant, healthy ojas. Consider these ideas an invitation to take extra special care of yourself. Remember to always discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor and health care team when you want to make changes to your self-care and wellness practices.
Ways to Bring Rejuvenation into Your Life
The ways to rejuvenate are endless! Choose a few ideas from this list to get you started.
- Eat and drink nutrient-rich foods to balance your dosha and deliver the building blocks your tissues need. Bring them into your body in an easily digestible form—and don’t overeat or snack.
- Drink water to flush ama from the tissues.
- Add spices and greens to balance the six tastes.
- Enjoy Chyavanprash, an herbal mixture that is deeply restorative. You can add it to grains in the morning or to milk or water to make a tea.
- Drink herb-infused milk as a bedtime restorative. You can make this with dairy or vegan milk. Give these recipes a try.
- Eat dates to build ojas.
- Take amalaki, which contains natural antioxidants and is nourishing to the body.
- Try an ojas-building shake to support health and vitality.
- Get a massage to relax muscles and support comfort. Ayurvedic self-massage works the same way as other forms of therapeutic massage, feeding skin, releasing muscle tension, and moving lymph. Massage also helps clear away dead skin cells and promotes healthy skin. Oil massage is grounding; it shifts you away from stress and fight-or-flight mode towards a happy state, opening the possibility for natural detoxification pathways in the body to work better.
- Soak in the tub. Soothing soaks help you relax and sleep more deeply, especially with the addition of relaxing herbs, minerals, or essential oils. A warm bath encourages the lymph to move and carry waste out of the tissues for disposal. When you soak in a warm tub, natural toxins are eliminated through the sweat glands. Add a gentle scrub to slough off dead skin. Remember, the skin is the largest organ for detoxification.
- Sip lavender or chamomile to relax the body and mind.
- Add epsom salt to your baths. It contains magnesium, which is a mineral that helps muscles relax.
- Enjoy rose essential oil, or rose petals, which are soothing and calming to the heart. If rose is not your thing, find an essential oil or flower that works for you.
- Go to a restorative yoga class or practice yoga nidra (yogic sleep) instead of your regular workout. Supported deep stretching opens the pathways for rasa to flow more freely. Yoga nidra is a deep, sweet practice that can calm the mind and provide deep relaxation.
- Slip into bed by 10 p.m. for a more complete sleep. Burning the candle at both ends is not restorative. Fatigue adds to stress response, and regular rest supports healthy ojas. Get eight hours on a regular basis and notice how you feel.
Many of us need support when dealing with chronic stress or illness, and by bringing rejuvenation into our regular routines, we can directly promote balance and prevent burnout. Add these simple rejuvenation rasayana practices when you need a little extra support in your life, and feel the power of self-care!