I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day. As much as it’s a lovely idea to have day where love and attention to our fellow human beings is in focus, it has also sadly been connected with pressure, consumerism and anxiety for me in the past. I prefer to express love when and how I feel comfortable to on a daily basis. We all have different love languages and have a choice in how I want to show love, just as others do too.
Still, my partner often caves in to the pressure to bring me flowers and chocolate, and I obligingly eat the chocolate and take care of the flowers. Neither of which I really want to do, to be honest. On the day, we do like to go out for dinner if we can find reservations, enjoy a nice bottle of wine and maybe, if we don’t drink too much wine, we make it into the bedroom… But COVID has turned all things normal upside down. So, I was wondering why not take this opportunity to turn Valentine’s Day upside down as well, since I’ve never much liked it right side up anyways?
What if we honored our partners (or perhaps ourselves—a partner is not necessary for this) in a way that reflects our understanding of each other using our dosha types—the 3 body types Ayurveda uses to describe us and going beyond that, the 5 elements that build us, humans up?
Balancing Your Doshas on Valentine’s Day
Honoring the Earth element – the physical body
My favorite Ayurvedic bath ritual
Keep this for yourself or share it with your loved one 😉
In India, bathing represents a cleansing not only of the physical body but also of the spiritual self. In the simple Ayurvedic context, a bath taken in the morning following self-massage is likened to bathing in the Ganges. The Ashtanga Hridayam, one of the ancient Ayurvedic texts, tells us that bathing improves sleep, appetite, sexual vigor, life span, and enthusiasm. The royal queens and princesses in ancient India were bathed in milk and fresh herbs to moisturize their skin until it glowed. To this day in India, special ingredients are stirred into a hot bath to customize it for dosha, time of year, or other considerations. Infused with attars, natural perfume oils and flower petals, the bath was once thought of as the most potent of erotic medicines.
What you’ll need:
10 drops of lavender oil (tridoshic oil – good for all 3 doshas)
5 drops of rose oil (vata and pitta dosha)
or 5 drops of peppermint or sandalwood oil (pitta dosha)
or 5 drops of cinnamon or eucalyptus oil (kapha dosha)
and fresh flower petals of your choice
Light candles, choose relaxing music if you fancy, and add the oils to your bath water and sprinkle the flower petals in it, too. Before getting in the bath steep the petals for about 3–5 minutes. Choose your oils depending on your dosha type. If you do not know your dosha there are great tests to figure it out or visit an Ayurvedic practitioner to tell you, which is my preferred way of figuring out dosha types.
Embracing the Water element – senses and emotions
Any way in which we honor our own or our partners’ emotional life is supporting their water element. The water element relates to our sense of taste, so keeping the taste buds happy will heighten our experience. There are many Ayurvedic herbs and spices known for their rejuvenating and aphrodisiac effects, which can kick things up a notch for Valentine’s day. In addition to proprietary blends, there are many Ayurvedic recipes for spicing up your love life that use ingredients that are easy to find and taste delicious. Nutmeg, clove, cardamom, and ginger are found in most pantries and did you know when they are mixed together as a “chai,” it serves as an easy and enjoyable way to enhance libido.
Nutmeg is known in Ayurveda as “women’s Viagra.” This almost overpowering aromatic spice warms the body, pacifies vata and kapha, and increases pitta, and stimulates circulation.
Clove ignites attraction and boosts libido. It has been used as an aphrodisiac in India and other parts of Asia for many centuries.
Cardamom, a tridoshic spice, balances the three fundamental energies and promotes healthy blood flow. Its super-sweet taste enhances energy and vigor.
For men, ashwaganda, an adaptogenic herb is believed to be particularly effective at boosting the sexual energy.
What you’ll need:
1 ts nutmeg
1 ts clove
2 ts of cardamom
2 ts of ginger
1 tbs ashwaganda
Use ½ teaspoon of the spice blend, boiled for 5 minutes in 1 cup of plant or nut milk. (Best is with almond milk if you ask me.)
The Fire element – represents our passions and longings
The fire element is associated with Manipura chakra or solar plexus, is our energetic fire centre.
Trataka or ‘candle gazing’ is a traditional and meditative way to reconnect to the fire element. Trataka should be “practiced in a dark room free from draughts and insects” according to Swami Svatmarama, who compiled the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. The flame also has many representations in yogic literature, and in this sense, we can think of the flame symbolising Atman, the soul, which is often pictured as a flame within the heart. You can practice Trataka alone or with your partner, then both of you can meditate over your relationship and what it means for you, then share it with each other for deeper bond.
How to practice Trataka
- Light the candle and place it at eye level, ensuring it does not flicker
- Sit in a comfortable meditative posture with the hands on the knees in Jnana or Chin mudra – your thumb and forefinger touch with your palms facing down (for Jnana Mudra) or facing up (for Chin Mudra). Set an intention or simply breathe slowly to relax the body and develop stillness.
- Close the eyes, and eventually open them, gazing at the centre of the candle flame, just above the wick. Try to keep the eyes steady without blinking.
- Gaze for as long as possible without straining the eyes, and then close them when you need to
- With the eyes closed, turn the gaze up to the centre of the eyebrows. Try to keep the image of the flame in your awareness for as long as possible, focusing upon it and studying any colors that may appear
- When the image eventually disappears, repeat the process, continuing for 5–10 minutes.
- If your mind wanders, focus upon the breath, imagining the breath flowing in and out of the eyebrow centre.
Celebrating our creativity and authenticity – the Air element
Air is the element that represents our creativity and originality so here you can really come up with anything and everything. I love to share creative activities with my partner like painting or joining a pottery class together. It is an amazing way to spend quality time together and have fun. If you know me, you can guess that there will be more paint on my partner than on my canvas and I will laugh my head off during the whole time but being yourself and showing even your silly side to your beloved, and accepting them for theirs, it the most beautiful way to connect with someone.
If you aren’t in the goofy mood, Air is the element of sound, so creating a playlist for your partner with your songs or even brand new songs that remind you of them would be a lovely gift, too.
Ether – the element of possibility
Ether is the origin of all of the other elements, as well as their container. How can we honor that within each other?
Is it time to transfer the relationship from the earthly to the cosmic sphere, I mean is it time to take it to the next level? Where might it be going in the future? What do you both want? Is there anything that’s gone unspoken or unrealized? Now’s the time to breathe possibility into the relationship, so that it can move from ordinary to extraordinary.
This year let’s get inspired from the beauty of Ayurveda and celebrate love in its wholeness on every level.
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Photo: Jonathan Borba via Unsplash