Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Summertime is official, so time to hit up nature! The Spring season was loaded with growth opportunities whether we wanted them or not. While expanding into the challenge is powerful work, its equally important to know when to rest as we move forward into pitta season.
"Self-Care" continues to be a hot topic in the wellness realms, with everything from the casual "treat yo'self" attitudes of mimosas & manicures to the controversial yoni steaming for female reproductive self-care. All self-care is worth it, and I love a good mimosa & a manicure--I deeply look forward to the next time I can have a mimosa & manicure--however, some self-care practices will promote more meaningful, deep and/or lasting effects on your entire being then going out for a drink with friends.
This month, we'll explore the three Gunas to learn how to cultivate more sattva in your everyday life with intentionally curated self-care practices.
The three gunas are the cosmic qualities of Sattva guna harmony, Rajas guna reaction & Tamas guna destruction. These three gunas effect our energetic, psychological & emotional states-of-being. Everything in nature--including us human beings--contains all three gunas, and these qualities have an effect on how something or someone behaves.
Sattva bestows a harmonious quality of mental clarity, awakened consciousness and clear perception. Because of this, sattva is a divine nature that elevates a human beings propensity for Self-awareness.
Rajas is an agitated mental quality that causes distraction, frustration or--in excess circumstances--even violence. Rajas leads people to live in the Ego and seek out external fulfillment. Since rajas encourages selfish desires and personal power as the ultimate life goals, it can enable manipulative, controlling and prideful behavior in people.
Tamas is a quality of dullness, and, in the mind, creates clouded perception, ignorance and fear. Negative thoughts & emotions, minimal mental focus and attachment to the external world are manifestations of tamas. Due to the darkened state-of-being this guna creates, it leads humans to resist positive changes and be preoccupied in their basic animal nature such as food, sleep, sex & survival.
Just like we have--and need--all three doshas balanced in our body, so we need all three gunas to keep us positive in life, motivated in an activity and grounded in bed at night. However, uplifting sattva guna and living a sattvic lifestyle leads to healthy mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, while living and behaving rajasic will inevitably lead to a tamasic state-of-being.
Everything we put energy into has an ability to inject more of a specific guna into your life, from our food choices to our sensory impressions to the culture in which we live to the company we choose to keep around us. Since our overall lifestyles impact the presence of a specific guna in our attitudes & outlooks, positive self-care is an easy way to cultivate sattva dosha in your life.
Sattvic self-care is a practice that includes awareness and attention to the whole self--body, mind & spirit. By caring for our whole self, we are showing up for ourselves. By caring for our whole self, we are elevating our spiritual awareness & lifting ourselves out of suffering. By caring for our whole self, we are setting a positive example to our loved-ones & community. By caring for our whole self, we are making sure that our health & wellbeing is a priority so we can better show up for others. By caring for our whole self, we are practicing self-compassion & divine love.
Ayurveda suggests two practices of self-care. Called dinacharya and rituacharya, daily rituals and seasonal rituals are the foundations of the cyclical, intuitive self-care system that make ayurveda an easy practice in the home. One of the aims of ayurvedic self-care is to stimulate the 5 senses in a positive way and to cleanse the sensory & motor organs, thus tending to daily hygiene, balancing the 5 elements, and purifying the body's energy pathways.
Just as a clock tells the rotation of the 24-hour day cycle and a calendar tells the rotation of the 12-month year cycle, dinacharya comprises all the daily self-care and hygiene activities, such as showering, brushing your teeth or eating lunch; rituacharya comprises the seasonal practices to balance the dominant dosha for the current season. Combined with the knowledge of your particular unique prakriti and any potential imbalances, the practice of dinacharya & rituacharya can be a very personalized ritual.
Cultivating sattva guna through self-care is a form of self-compassion and loving-kindness thus an expression of bhakti yoga, the school of yoga rooted in Divine Love. Furthermore, we can practice many self-care rituals at home, such as abhyanga, ayurvedic oil massaging.
Abhyanga is a type of "Snehana" or oleation therapy. The Sanskrit word "Snehana" derives from the root "sneha" which means either oil OR love in English, so when we practice Snehana oiling therapies like abhyanga, we are not only nourishing our bodies, but we are nourishing our ability to give & receive love. While there are specific types of abhyanga oils you can purchase, raw unrefined sesame oil is tri-doshic so it's the perfect starter oil to begin an abhyanga ritual.
Receiving regular bodywork is also a powerful form of self-care through manual medicine and healing touch. A visit to an ayurvedic wellness center is well worth your time & money; here in Nashville we are very fortunate to have the Lotus Room Ayurveda.
With treatment options including abhyanga massage, kati basti, shirodhara, karana purana & svedhana infrared sauna to name a few, the Lotus Room Ayurveda also has a variety of ayurvedic accessories for purchase, and offers various ayurvedic workshops. I recently spent an afternoon of deep relaxation with Jenna Wolfe, owner of the Lotus Room, as my therapist. Scroll down to watch a hyperlapsed clip of my karana Purana and shirodhara treatments that also captions some of the basic benefits of each of these therapies.
While there are various treatments & techniques you can take on as you create and refine your dinacharya & rituacharya self-care, always approach yourself with a sense of loving-kindness. Allow every act of self-touch, from showering to putting on your pajamas, source from compassion and you can cultivate sattva in all aspects of your life.
In other news, I'm delighted to share that I've been invited to be a contributing author for an upcoming book project exploring the intersection of yoga & the black woman experience. I'm excited for this summer writing project and I'll keep everyone posted with how it all goes🙏🏾💚please email me if you'd like to read my abstract.
Join Jo-Jo for a guided summer morning meditation experience at the serene natural spaces of Cheekwood Botanical Garden. No prior experience is necessary, and all abilities are welcome. Classes will be held on the boardwalk of the Carell Trail, weather permitting. In the event of rain, participants will be notified of cancellation. Please dress comfortably and bring your own blanket. Advanced registration is required for members & non-members.