by Rupa Raj
As Ayurvedic Practitioners – we share a collective goal – to guide clients in slowing down, deepening their relationship with their inner experience, and heightening their connection to their own inner wisdom.
In our Western culture, we typically view Valentine’s Day as a time to indulge in our senses and to send our love outwardly. However, this Valentine’s Day, let’s introduce our clients to the concept and benefits of Indriya Nigraha (control of the senses). We can encourage our clients to appropriately engage with each sense, and send their love inwardly.
Where possible, encourage your clients to focus on each sense, one by one, to sharpen their awareness of that particular indriya, while noticing what is going on for them in their inner world. We recognize that not all of your clients may have the same access to all five senses (Pancha Indriyas), so alternatives have also been provided.
Below are a few suggestions on practices your clients may take:
Where it makes sense for your clients, you may want to encourage them to curate a sensually rich Valentine’s Day menu by incorporating Ayurvedic aphrodisiac (Vajikarana) foods and herbs. For example, almonds, with their grounding qualities, balance Vata dosha, while saffron, known for its cooling properties, is beneficial for Pitta dominance. Dates, sweet and nourishing, support vitality and stamina, suitable for both Vata and Pitta doshas. Honey, considered a rejuvenating substance, pacifies Vata and Kapha in moderation. Cardamom, a tri-doshic spice, aids digestion and adds a delightful flavor, while ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb, reduces stress and promotes vitality for both Vata and Pitta.
Recommend just one or two food items to your clients, and have them close their eyes, find a quiet space, and slowly take their time noticing the flavors and textures in their mouth. Ask them to note down what they experienced.
Alternative: For clients who do not have a sense of taste, embrace the visual and aromatic elements of Ayurvedic cuisine. Encourage clients to explore vibrant and visually appealing dishes that incorporate Ayurvedic principles. They can focus on presenting their meals beautifully, engaging their sense of sight and enhancing the overall dining experience.
Introduce the world of Aromatherapy (Gandha Sweda) with Ayurvedic Oils to your clients. Guide them to transform their space by exploring scents like jasmine (beneficial for balancing Vata), sandalwood (soothing for Pitta), and rose (calming for both Vata and Pitta). Also consider the aromatic pleasure with herbs like lavender, suitable for all doshas, and ylang-ylang, ideal for harmonizing Pitta and Vata.
Ask your clients to pause throughout the day to notice how the scents alter their thoughts, feelings, or moods.
Alternative: For those who may not have a sense of smell, guide them towards embracing textures and colors in their surroundings, for example, the visual appeal of flowers, herbs, and vibrant colors. Engage the sense of sight to create an atmosphere filled with beauty and positive energy.
Encourage clients to savor the experience of Ayurvedic Skincare (Twak Sneha) Ritual. Suggest selecting oils based on their dosha—sesame oil for Vata, coconut oil for Pitta, and mustard seed oil for Kapha.
Chances are your clients already perform abhyanga, since it is part of most practitioners recommended dinacharya. However, on Valentine’s Day, you can encourage your clients to try this practice with more awareness, perhaps by slowing down the strokes, or closing their eyes. And, during the moment that your clients normally finish abhyanga, just before jumping in the shower, you can ask your clients to pause again, close their eyes once more, and simply take notice of the subtlest sensations they feel.
Alternative: For individuals who may not have the sense of touch, an alternative can be the exploration of energetic or vibrational experiences. Encourage them to engage in practices such as energy healing, meditation, or mindfulness that focus on internal sensations and the flow of subtle energies within the body. This can provide a profound connection to oneself and the surrounding environment without relying on the traditional sense of touch. Additionally, practices like visualization and guided imagery can be embraced to enhance the mental and emotional aspects of well-being, offering alternative pathways to a rich sensory experience.
Embrace the power of Shabda, the sense of sound, to enrich overall well-being. Recommend Santvanah Sangeet, calming music designed for relaxation, creating a serene auditory environment with soothing melodies. Introduce Dhyaana Shabda Vihara, meditative soundscapes like nature sounds or singing bowls, enhancing meditation and self-care practices. Guide clients in Shabda Dhyana, sound meditation practices, using specific sounds or mantras to deepen mindfulness.
After experiencing one of these practices, ask your clients to journal or take notice of how they feel compared to how they felt before.
Alternative: For individuals who may not have the sense of hearing, introduce them to the calming and rhythmic practice of meditation. Emphasize the vibrations and sensations they can feel during meditation, engaging their sense of touch and promoting a serene and balanced state of mind.
Delve into the realm of Gemstone Therapy (Ratna Chikitsa) to engage the sense of sight. Suggest the use of gemstones linked with doshas and chakras—rose quartz for the heart chakra, amethyst for calming Vata, or garnet for invigorating Pitta. Whether worn as jewelry or placed in their living space, gemstones create an atmosphere of energetic harmony, contributing to the overall well-being.
Ask your clients to lightly gaze at their gemstone of choice throughout the day, and ask them to notice what they felt within themselves as a result.
Alternative: Incorporate Gemstone Therapy (Ratna Chikitsa) as an alternative for those who may not have been introduced to the nuances of sight. Guide them to choose gemstones associated with doshas and chakras, fostering balance and energetic harmony. Whether worn as jewelry or held during meditation, the tactile experience of gemstones provides a meaningful connection.
As we have learned from Ayurveda, our senses connect us to the outer world, and just as importantly are a bridge to our inner world. Most people do not recognize that they can regulate their experiences and alter their mindset by taking remedial measures with their 5 senses. However, as practitioners, this February, we can spin “Cupid’s arrow” around from the external to the internal, and serve as valuable guides in our client’s journey.
Wishing you and your clients a love-filled and Ayurvedic-infused Valentine’s Day.
CALL TO ACTION: Share these practices with your clients!