With her cultivated beauty and infinitely good vibes, island renowned yoga teacher and sound healer Janine Martins is as elegant at 6:00 am as she is at Tillie’s disco brunch. When I arrived at her Snug Harbour home, the sun had not yet risen. She greeted me with a bright face, sporting a palm tree pajama set with a fresh mug of Cat’s Claw tea in hand. With no time to waste and a beautiful Thursday ahead, we started right in on her morning ritual.
Janine follows an Ayurvedic morning routine. Ayurvedic medicine, or Ayurveda for short, is one of the world’s oldest holistic whole-body healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. Ayurvedic physicians believe that daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Consistent practice is known to reduce inflammation in the body, cleanse it of toxins, reduce symptoms of illness and disease, and overall improve the quality of daily life.
Janine’s morning ritual commences with a simple but important step that needs no explanation — making the bed. This is her way of letting her mind and body know that sleep is over and it’s time to start the day!
Step one: Janine splashes cold water on her face seven times, ensuring that the eyes and mouth are cleaned in the process. Once complete, she dries her face with a clean towel.
Step two: Hydration! Janine usually opts for a glass of water (sometimes with lemon) or an herbal tea. Some of Janine’s go-to herbal teas include Cat’s Claw, Ginger, Sage, Mint, Ashwagandha, and Tulsi. For our morning together she elects Cat’s Claw — a powerful antioxidant that supports immunity and is known to cure headaches.
Step three: Janine uses a tool to scrape her tongue as a means of removing tongue bacteria. She gently scrapes from back to front for 7-14 strokes. This practice also helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of the body and improves digestion by increasing sense of taste.
Step four: A couple times a week she also practices oil pulling, an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in her mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene. It can be done with coconut, olive, or sesame oil. Once measured out, Janine swishes the oil around her mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, spits, and rinses.
Step five: Following the oil pull, a couple times a week Janine also uses a neti pot which is a form of nasal saline irrigation therapy. It resembles a teapot but has a longer spout. The pot is filled with a saline solution and then poured into the nostril. The solution flows through the nasal passage, flushes out excess mucus and accumulated debris, and exits through the other nostril. This process is then repeated on the other side. The neti pot has a number of known benefits including improved breathing, relief of allergy symptoms, easing of sinus headaches, and heightened sense of taste and smell.
Step six: Janine brushes her teeth using a homemade charcoal toothpaste. Activated charcoal is a fine grain powder made from wood, coconut shells, and other natural substances. It can help remove surface stains and improve bad breath. The paste is also free from dangerous detergents and artificial colors. In sticking with products that are both good for the environment and the body, Janine also uses a biodegradable toothbrush from Woo Bamboo. It is made from one single piece of organically-grown bamboo with no fillers, laminates, or additives. The best part? You can pick it up here on island at Kirk Market!
Meditation + Breathing
Just as it is important to cleanse the body, it is equally important to cleanse the mind and spirit. Janine continues her Ayurvedic routine with Pranayama breathing often followed by meditation.
Janine perches cross-legged atop a pillow on her recently-made bed and places her phone down in front of her. She opens her pranayama breathing app which defaults to a timer of seven minutes. The app guides Janine in her breathing — 4 second inhales followed by 8 second exhales. Janine concentrates her breathing in the diaphragm, feeling its expansion and retraction. If inspired, she will reset the timer for another seven minutes and repeat the practice. There are many amazing benefits of pranayama breathing including longevity, improved circulation, healthy heart, and improved mental health.
Without moving from her seat, Janine reaches for her phone to switch to her meditation app – Insight. Janine practices zazen — a form of seated meditation at the very heart of Zen practice. Aligned with this tradition, Janine does not use voice-guided meditations from the app but rather a timer which allows her to focus on her breath and feel her body. She is able to customize her meditation with bells as a signal to change mudras. Mudras use the hands to create a flow of energy in the body. There is a connection from areas of the hands to corresponding regions of the body. Depending on the day ahead, Janine will either meditate directly after pranayama breathing or later in the evening. No matter the time of day, she will always create space for at least 15 minutes but depending on how she is feeling may go all the way up to an hour.
Janine listens to her body and makes adjustments that best serve her. That being said, her morning routine sometimes looks different depending on her energy, her schedule for the day, and even the weather. A couple times a week, rather than sitting for a morning meditation, she will hop on her bike and go for a ride. On these rides she will traverse anywhere from 15 to 25 miles, an exercise she believes to have a meditative quality.
As part of the Ayurvedic routine, Janine prioritizes morning hydration with water or herbal tea; however, breakfast at that hour is not essential nor is it necessarily helpful to her body. Typically Janine will have her first bite of food later in the morning following a form of physical exercise — whether that be yoga, cycling, or a beach run. Some of her go-to breakfast items include a slice of toast with almond butter and fruit, oatmeal, or a smoothie. As she and I chat, she slowly and methodically peels a pomegranate — a task which she says allows her to practice patience and mindfulness. She tells me that pomegranates are excellent for balancing Pitta — one of the 3 doshas outlined in ayurvedic medicine.
Wrapping Up: Janine reflects on the idea of “routine”
“The overarching theme you’ll find not only in Ayurveda but also in my work is that not of us are the same, not even day to day, week to week, never mind from person to person. So I don’t treat any of my clients the same. I don’t treat any week the same. I don’t treat my body the same. Same with meditation… sometimes I might do 15 minutes. Some days an hour. Some days I use a different preset. We have to approach our life with this mindfulness of ‘What do I need right now?’ So today, yeah, maybe I want this pomegranate. Maybe another day my body doesn’t need that. It needs something completely different… Be willing to adapt and be flexible. Have these tools and ask yourself — What tool do I want to use right now in this moment?”
Did you enjoy learning about Janine’s ayurvedic routine? Would you like to hear more about her business, how she became a yoga teacher, her life growing up in Cayman, and her favorite spots on the island? Subscribe below and receive the next blog, “A Conversation with Janine Martins” directly to your inbox!