Here in upstate NY the new school year begins September 8. Right now children are hoping the summer will never end, and parents are simultaneously checking off the calendar, buying school supplies and enjoying the less structured days of summer.
But when parents and children make that ‘summer feel’ last until the night before the first day of school, the combination of excitement and being out of routine can make those early weeks of school feel like a bad case of jet lag.
Now, before the start of school, is the perfect time for building dinacharya, a routine that will establish skills that can only help your child feel well and have a positive effect on school performance. When a student eats healthily, gets the right amount of sleep, has proper hygiene and keeps a consistent schedule, he or she will be able to sustain the energy needed to perform and cope with the mental, physical and social challenges of a school day.
I have selected 3 morning and 3 evening Ayurvedic guidelines for achieving health and balance through diet and lifestyle to share with you. There is no need to carry them out all at once. In fact, when building a new skill or routine it is best to do so one step at a time, adding each new skill to the previous one.
In the Morning, set aside enough time so your child or teen upon awakening will…
1. Remove the night’s accumulation of toxins by scraping their tongue with either a tongue scraper or front of a spoon (move from back of the tongue forward, gently, 3 to 5 times).
2. Drink a glass of warm water. It will hydrate the body and leads to elimination of wastes, thereby starting one off with strength in the tissues and a calm mind.
3. Eat a nutritious, cooked breakfast. Why cooked? Ayurveda teaches that warm, cooked (not microwaved) food is easier to digest. Digested food will supply the nutrients and energy your child will need throughout the day. Oatmeal or millet with a few drops of maple syrup, granola with warm milk, soup, warm bread with peanut/almond butter, seasonal fruit cooked in a ¼ inch of water for 3 minutes sprinkled with cinnamon, and eggs, are examples.
In the Evening, about an hour before bedtime, which should be on the early side…
1. It is healthy to practice abhyanga, a self-massage, with organic sesame oil. Traditionally, the massage occurs before bathing, but teaching your child to apply a small amount of oil after the bath or shower, while the skin is still wet, is more practical.
* Instruct your child to massage from head down to toe, using long strokes on long bones and circular strokes on hips and other joints. Encourage massaging all sides of the body. For the back I have found that you will need to help. You can also purchase a spongy back brush, sprinkle some oil on it and only use that brush for oiling the back.
* Spend time on the feet, especially the bottoms; there are many nerve endings here and massaging the feet helps calm the entire nervous system.
*Pat dry, put on pajamas and get into bed.
If your child needs you to give the massage…
*Begin by having him/her sit up, and work from the head down to the shoulders, back, chest, arms, underarms, hands and fingers. Again, give long, firm strokes on the long bones, moving away from the body, and circular ones on the joints.
*Next you can have your child lie on his back (or stand) as you massage legs,feet and toes.
*Then your child will turn over/around and spend time on the soles of the feet, back and legs with the same long strokes. You can do the back again if your child likes it.
You can purchase sesame or Sleep Ease oil from Banyan Botanicals. Simply click on the Links, go to www.banyan.com, and search the oils.
2. Read a story to your child, or have your child do some light reading. The body and mind are unwinding, so avoid unhappy, negative, scary stories, as well as computer, tv or stimulating music.
3. It is also a good time for yoga nidra, guided relaxation. This gentle meditation
will activate a ‘healing switch’ that will nurture your child on every level of their being. It settles the mind and body. Another calming activity is to have your child lie and listen to gentle, soothing music as he or she lies in bed.
I recommend Jennifer Reis’ Divine Sleep, Yoga Nidra for Children.
Go to Links, click on Jennifer Reis and find this CD that both you and your child will find relaxing.
Establishing new routines can sometimes be hard. Consistency is the key. Give yourself permission to take the time to build a solid foundation for health. There are times it won’t be easy, but do n’t give up. Even one small change puts you and your child on the path to health.
Feel free to contact me should you need help or further suggestions or more information so you may be able to help your child establish new habits and routines for the upcoming school year.
For additional information, and there is so much more, I recommend
Dr. John Douillard’s, Perfect Health for Kids.
Just go to Links and click on lifespa.com, type the title in search and you will find it.