Take the 14-Day Ayurvedic Challenge

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, aims to align us with the natural rhythms of nature, through a systematic approach to daily life designed to boost health and longevity. The two primary ways in which Ayurveda works are through diet and lifestyle.

A two-week Ayurvedic challenge is the perfect way to reconnect with your natural circadian rhythms, and step into new daily routines that lead you in the direction of healthy lifetime habits. Spring is the ideal time to kick-start your reboot, but you can try these practices any season of the year.

What you’ll need:

  • Organic sesame or coconut oil
  • Tongue scraper
  • Neti pot
  • Small spray bottle
  • Cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds
  • Several lemons
  • Fresh ginger

Daily routine

  • Wake up before the sun, by 6:00 am.
  • Upon waking, drink a large glass of warm water with some lemon juice squeezed into it, to stimulate the digestive tract.
  • Cleanse the sense organs: Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper (here's how to do it), wash your face, spritz lukewarm water or organic rosewater in your eyes, use a neti pot, and put a little bit of warm sesame oil in each nostril and inside each ear.
  • Practice oil pulling: Take 1 tablespoon of either sesame or coconut oil and pull it back and forth between the teeth for five to 20 minutes. This strengthens the gums and cleans the mouth. Spit out the oil and brush your teeth.
  • Sit quietly for five to 15 minutes and meditate, journal, or just focus on the breath and relax. Perhaps set an intention for your day and write it down.
  • Attempt 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise—preferably doing something you love.
  • Apply warm, organic sesame oil to your entire body, using long massage strokes on the long bones and circular strokes on your joints.
  • Shower to rinse off the excess oil (no need to soap).
  • Have a healthy breakfast, between 7:30 and 8:30 am, of local, organic, and seasonal whole foods (try fresh, organic eggs with steamed vegetables and a few soaked prunes, or, if you're vegan, perhaps steamed vegetables and quinoa).
  • Enjoy a five- to 10-minute walk after breakfast, if time allows.
  • Avoid snacks between breakfast and lunch. Instead, drink cumin, coriander, and fennel (CCF) tea between meals. (Boil 1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds with 4 cups of water, strain, and enjoy.)
  • Make lunch your biggest meal of the day. Eat quietly and make sure to have enough food to get you through to dinner without needing a snack. Enjoy lunch in the middle of high pitta time (11:30 am–1:30 pm), when the digestive fire is at its strongest. A good-quality bean soup, well-cooked vegetables, and a gluten-free grain like quinoa or millet would make a perfectly balanced lunch.
  • After lunch, walk for 10 to 30 minutes and then, if possible, lie on your left side for another 10 minutes to aid in digestion. If lying down isn’t a possibility, lean to the left and rub your belly up the right side and down the left side in a circular motion, 25 times.
  • Between lunch and dinner, enjoy more CCF tea or ginger tea. For ginger tea, dice about a half inch of fresh ginger, boil in 2 cups of water, strain, and serve. Add raw honey to taste.
  • Avoid snacks between lunch and dinner, and drink warm water throughout the day, adding lemon if you like.
  • In the evening, before dinner, do a bit more physical activity. This can be yoga, a jog, or a hike—nothing too vigorous.
  • Enjoy dinner in a quiet environment, between 5:30 and 7:30 pm. Make this your smallest meal of the day.
  • Walk again after dinner if possible, for five to 30 minutes. Leave at least two hours between eating and going to bed.
  • Shut off all electronic devices one hour before bed. Wind down from your evening with quiet activities like reading, writing, or meditation. Get in bed by 9:30 pm, so you can have your lights off and be asleep by 10:00 pm. If you have a hard time sleeping, have a cup of chamomile or passionflower tea before bed to help soothe the nerves.

Remember, this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair. What if you chose just five things to commit to for 14 days? Maybe you want to focus on waking up and going to bed early, or drinking CCF tea between meals instead of snacking. Whatever you decide, enjoy tuning in to the rhythm of nature, the universe, and your own body and mind.

Sarajean Rudman, E-RYT 500, is a clinical nutritionist, Kripalu Yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner, life coach, fitness instructor, and outdoor adventure guide.

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