Get to know your tongue.
Why should I get to know my tongue?
A very basic yet little known part of the Ayurvedic Dinacharya (Daily Routine) is tongue scraping. It is advised to scrape the tongue from back to front 3-5 times each morning and again each evening, using a stainless steel or copper tounge scraper. But why?
The tongue can tell us a lot about our health and the state of our digestion, healthy digestion being a fundamental pillar to good overall health. When we bring awareness to the condition of the tongue, we can learn a lot about our overall health and dosha balance.
By scraping the tongue, we remove metabolic toxins known in Ayurveda as Ama, this can take many different forms and colours each one an indicator of health. For example, a light grey, white, brown or dark coloured coating towards the back of the tounge indicates an excess of Vata dosha, symptoms of excess Vata include bloating, gas, pain, anxiety, insomnia. A green or yellowish coating towards the middle of the tongue indicates excess Pitta dosha, symptoms of excess Pitta include diarrhoea or loose stool, infections, UTIs, migraine type headaches, anger. Greyish, white coating near the front of the tongue indicates excess Kapha dosha, symptoms of which include feeling heavy, sluggish, depression. While a white coating all over the tongue indicates a build of metabolic toxins or Ama, this is usually caused by untimely or poor digestion of nutrients. By looking at our tongue we know more about what is going in in the body thus making better choices and preventing the manifestation of the above-mentioned conditions and symptoms.
By removing this coating from the tongue, we prevent it from being re absorbed into the system and improve our sense of taste both of which in turn will improve our ability to digest our food. When sense of taste is optimised our food is more satisfying and we don’t need to add as much salt, sugar and other potentially harmful flavourings to make the food more flavoursome. Heightened taste receptors can also mean we need to eat less, as the food is better absorbed into the body. Tongue scraping also helps eliminate bad breath and improves the appearance of the tongue thus improving general health and well-being.
During an Ayurvedic consultation your therapist will often carry out a tongue examination for the insights it provides about your dosha balance and the health of the whole body and mind. Different sections of the tongue represent different organs and areas in the body and any cracks or colour variations on the tongue represent imbalance in these areas. By bringing your awareness to your tongue through the daily practice of tongue scraping you can reflect on how your routine and diet over the past few days have affected your body and health and become more mindful when making choices.
In my online course Yoga and Ayurveda for Stress and Anxiety you can find detailed tongue diary to help you get better aquatinted with your tongue and what it has to tell you. When nutrients are correctly assimilated by the body the tounge should be relatively free from Ama, red spots, cracks etc.
So how should I scrape my tongue?
I recommend tongue scraping first thing in the morning and last thing at night, just before brushing your teeth. Rinse you mouth with water, then gently glide the tongue scraper along your tongue from back to front, 3-5 times, you can rinse the scraper between scrapes if you want. Be careful of applying to much pressure at can damage the taste buds, like wise if tongue scraping produces a gaging reflex you are most likely a bit over aggressive with your scraping. So rinse your mouth with water then gently pull the tongue scraper along your tounge, before continuing your regular morning/evening routine. This simple practice won’ take you more then a minute but can make a huge difference to your general wellbeing.
So where can I get a tongue scraper?
Tongue scrapers are available is some health food shops and pharmacies or online for under €10 . I recently came across them for €7 on the Limerick based sustainable lifestyle store www.duoireland.com
If you have any questions about the practice of tongue scraping or any ayurvedic practices or would like to arrange an Ayurvedic consultation don’t hesitate to get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on our website www.yoganessireland.ie