Love your self? Treat your self! – Daily Self Care Rituals – Dinacharya

The Body is a Temple – Let’s Treat it Like a Gift from God

The theme of “no pain no gain”, “beauty is pain” and many other (in my opinion) misguided lines of thought run rampant in American/western culture.  We often ignore the messages from our body and attempt to trick the body to comply with the dictates of the mind.  This can lead to several types of problems, as the body is actually a soft animal and not a machine (although the way we use our joints can be beneficially approached by thinking that way… more on that in another post).  The body has it’s own way of knowing and is an equal partner to the mind when balanced in a healthy organism.  I am a fan of healthy physical challenge, so I’m not suggesting that we all remove any elements of challenge and growth from life.  I do believe that many times, the ratio of challenging practices to restorative practices in a person’s life are not as harmoniously balanced to promote health as they could be, skewing more heavily toward challenging, (and if not given proper counter balance) depleting activities.

My inspiration to share these ways to slow down and make space to show your self how much you care came from a recent home cleaning session.  After cleaning out the hall/linen closet near my bathroom, I found a hand written note with this sequence of self care rituals that I had written after attending an ayurveda workshop.  I decided that I would type it up, laminate it and post it on the inside of the bathroom closet door for ease of access.  Why stop there?  If I can use this practice as a regular reminder to shower myself with love and appreciation then other people might enjoy adopting some of this practice, too!

Much of this list could be considered variations on the Ayurvedic practice of dinacharya, or daily self care rituals.  While this list is pretty long for most of us to practice in entirety on a daily basis (I know I would have to start waking up much earlier to make this all happen every day… and that’s not super likely as I do love me some sleep), it is simple enough to choose a few elements that do feel manageable each day.  Another favorite indulgence of mine is to pick a day (weekend, day off, etc) and block off a large chunk of the morning with the intention of a full and relaxing few hours dedicated to lovingly caring for my physical body.

Today I want to share some of these restorative and nourishing practices that we can all start to make time for today.  Making time is really just about honoring something as a priority.  If you have time to watch TV or engage with social media, you have time for healthy self care habits.  This list is no way comprehensive.  There are infinite ways to honor and love the body.  I believe the most important part of this practice (and any practice for that matter) is intention.  You can begin to incorporate and intentional approach to the self care morning ritual that you are already doing… for example, acknowledging that you are brushing your teeth with loving care to keep your mouth and your self healthy… because you love yourself and you enjoy honoring your body with the feeling of a clean and well cared for mouth.  By simply operating from a place of love and awareness rather than rushing mindlessly through some sort of check list, you have changed the nature of something that you are already doing to a much more powerful and meaningful practice.  This doesn’t cost anything, take any more time or require any special equipment.

Wake gently (early) – No loud, blaring alarms here.  Soothing music or light could be some pleasant choices.

Offer some prayer/intention of gratitude for this day before even getting out of bed.

Let out/feed dogs (this is my list, so feel free to add your own variations like this here… the ritual “feeding of the dogs” isn’t one that I’ve encountered in any study of Ayurveda yet, but it’s a must in my personal routine).

Prepare the sacred space of the bathroom – clean up any clutter, light a candle or any other way you like to make a space feel special.

Drink water – traditionally room temperature water that has been sitting in a copper cup over night… I opt for warm water heated in my tea kettle… sometimes with lemon squeezed into it, sometimes plain.

Rinse eyes with eyewash of choice (there are some specific Ayurvedic blends available for this… most days I just use a sterile saline solution) and practice eye movement exercises.

Wash face/rinse mouth.

Go to the bathroom.

Scrape tongue (you can buy a tongue scraper specifically for this purpose, or use an inverted spoon… just be sure to rinse and wash the spoon after).

Floss/Brush teeth.

Oil pulling.

Dry brush the body.

Use Neti pot (available online and for your convenience at Spark Wellness retail shop) to irrigate sinuses.


Self massage (abyhanga) with edible (non-rancid) oil (coconut is my preferences) to body and face.

Drop of same oil as above into nostrils/ears.

Apply hydrosols or essential oils as desired so you’re feelin fresh!

Gently dry off.

Physical practice (yoga/asana, dance, walk, Pilates, any other movement you like)

Intentional breathing exercises (pranayama). Check out this cool book and this cool book for some ideas, or book a session with me to start developing your own breathing practice!



Do you have any questions about what you see here?  Do you practice any of these self care activities as part of your body care routine already?  What are you excited to try?  Please keep the conversation going in the comment section!

For more information about dinacharya and the spiritual practice of honoring the body/mind/spirit through physical self care rituals, check out The Daily Routine by Vasant Lad or even better, seek out the services of an Ayurvedic practitioner near you for specific lifestyle suggestions for you and your unique make up.  If you live in the Twin Cities, I would be happy to give you some specific recommendations for practitioners in the area.

Be Well and Have Fun,

Dr. Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT



True Confessions…

True Confessions…

Yesterday something occurred to me. I was speaking with a friend who was surprised to hear that I was experiencing back pain, and that I was going to see my chiropractor. I am a chiropractor… and a yoga and Pilates instructor. Apparently, I ought to feel healthy and fit all the time. Here’s the catch. As all chiropractors know, you can’t adjust yourself.

Heart-Hands-58521_396x233I have run into similar reactions of surprise after sharing something with friends about an area of my life where I needed help to feel my best (physical, emotional, mental or spiritual). I actually had one girlfriend tell me she was surprised because she “thought I had the perfect life.” I’m still not sure what that means.

I took it to mean that I (like many people) am only comfortable sharing the “Yay!” moments with those around me… that I am much less comfortable candidly sharing what is hard for me , or instances when I need help.

How many people can relate to allowing some physical pain to become unbearable, thinking that you would just tough through it… until you finally broke down and got that much needed bodywork that made you feel better? Why do we let things become that acute and awful? This also plays out in the psycho/social/emotional areas of our lives. Perhaps if we were more comfortable seeking help at the first sign of trouble, issues would not build up and require as much of an intensive intervention.

Marianne Williamson is often quoted as saying “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.

In the past I have read this to mean that we should all feel empowered to go out and lead the lives we have imagined for ourselves in our wildest dreams. Live BIG! SHINE!

While I still get that feeling from reading this quote, more recently I have wondered about the implications of the final sentence. It’s not about living “the perfect life”… it’s about each of us living our own most authentic life. Sometimes it can be messy and hard to figure out how our most authentic life looks/feels/is… and sometimes we need help along the journey. Ditching fear and un-sticking the places where you feel stuck (again this works in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual realms) is a big job.

There is something very liberating in realizing that asking for help with this big job is okay…that you don’t have to “keep it together” all the time or “be perfect” or do it all alone. Maybe sharing our areas where we need help and not so carefully guarding our “work in progress” part of own personal growth process (including what we utilize for help and support along the journey) is just as important as sharing our strong, happy and shiny parts of ourselves.

Most people’s lives look much more put together from the outside. Perhaps sharing a bit of your own vulnerability with another will give them the courage to realize that there is nothing wrong with them and that there is nothing wrong with asking for help in whatever area of life they feel the need for it. Allow your presence to liberate others. You may provide them with the opportunity to move more fully into their own authentic life of their dreams.

I am happy to say that I utilize the services of many wonderful healers to keep me balanced in all aspects of my life. I love the things that chiropractic care, acupuncture, homeopathy, functional neurology, massages of all kinds, energy work, yoga, Pilates and art and movement therapy have done (and continue to do) for me. I am proud to say that I am a work in progress and that I am becoming more comfortable seeking help when I need it.

I encourage you to explore what blend of healing, life affirming activities and therapies will provide you with the support you need to live your most authentic life.
<3  Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT

The Yoga of Feeling

The Yoga of Feeling

Oriah Mountain Dreamer Quote

This past weekend (summer 2012) I had the awesome pleasure of going to the first (soon to be annual) Bhakti Fest Midwest.  It was a truly heart opening experience, as all in attendance practiced yoga, learned at workshops and experienced ecstatic chanting and dancing fun through kirtan.  Whoo- hoo!!  What a hot, sweaty, shiny liberating good time!  For those of you not familiar with kirtan, it is the devotional practice of chanting the many names of the Divine and experiencing the love and divinity that always surrounds you in abundance when you dare to open your eyes and heart.

I say dare because it can be so very scary to live life with an open heart.  If you are open to feeling and experiencing everything this life has to offer, there is a chance you will get hurt… and we all will sooner or later.  Intense sensation is part of the human experience.

This weekend shook some things up in me and reminded me that yoga is so much more than the “blissed-out” sensation that can sometimes accompany the practice.  Yoga is a tool for all the times in your life.  Being a yogi/yogini does not mean that you must constantly maintain a state of serenity and detachment… this is not realistic for a long term state while operating as a householder in the wide world.

Being a yogi/yogini simply means that you allow your higher consciousness to bear witness to all of your experiences.  Yoga teaches you tools to observe what shows up in your life on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels without passing judgement.  Yoga lets you breathe into those observations and sit with whatever you find, rather than defaulting to whatever knee-jerk reaction patterns that may have held you in the past.

I have noticed for a while that before I teach a class I feel the need to put on the yoga teacher persona, the calm, chill act.  While I am at many times both calm and chill, at many others I am goofy, silly, happy and very enthusiastically fired-up about shit that I love.  Sometimes I say words like “shit,” too.

I have been fighting this battle with “vanilla” for as long as I can remember… the need to make myself more bland and palatable so as to be more widely accepted and to not offend.  While there is nothing wrong with vanilla (if that is your natural resonance), there is something that feels very wrong with continually trying to hide or erase anything that might make me seem odd or quirky… it feels like I’m squashing my own fun.  I’m so done with that.  My fun wants out… and it wants yours to come out, too.

I’m not really sure what flavor of ice cream I am, but I am becoming more sure every day that it isn’t vanilla.  As long as it’s not pralines and somethin (think Wayne’s World) I’m okay with whatever flavor continues to develop as I let my fun emerge.  It is my intention to let my heart shine in all it’s beautiful, vulnerable glory… to give myself permission to be weird and silly and as long as I’m not hurting anyone, to not take it personally if “me doing me” doesn’t work for everyone.

This realization has allowed me to be more real with students in the classes that I teach and with the practice members in my chiropractic practice.  My husband Paul recently participated in a yoga class that I was teaching and remarked that it felt the most authentic that my teaching had in a long time.  My heart is full and grateful for the reminder that Bhakti Fest provided by once again breaking it open through the gifts of yoga and joyful song and dance.

Until next time… breathe and keep it real  😉


Martha DeSante DC, CYT

Spring 2014 workshops

Spring 2014 workshops

The following workshops are being offered by me, Martha DeSante, Doctor of Chiropractic and Kripalu Certified Yoga Teacher at the Spark Wellness Yoga Studio during the Spring 2014 season

Wednesday, January 15th 7:30-9pm
BREATH OF FRESH AIR – practical application of the anatomy and physiology of breathing

I know, I know, you are breathing right now.  What more is there to learn about breathing?  Lots!  Come learn about how the way you breathe can make a big impact on your health and quality of life!  Refine your understanding of how you breathe and the interrelationship of breath with posture, energy, injury prevention and stress levels.  Learn some new techniques that you can practice any place or time to enhance your vitality and pump up your AWESOME!! Come ready to explore new ways of relating to your breath and body.

*perfect for those new to intentional breathing or for those looking to refine their understanding of breathing with the whole body.

Wednesday, February 12th 7:30-9pm

Are you an office warrior?  Do long hours spent working at a desk have you feeling old, stiff and funky?  Learn ways to prevent and reverse the many poor postural habits that desk work promotes including baby t-rex (Mr. Burns) posture, neck, shoulder, hip and back pain, core deconditioning, poor quality breathing and low energy.  This workshop will include simple step-by-step skills to improve your working posture, tips to set boundaries and take breaks, stretches and movements that can easily be done in an office setting as well as ways to turn back on muscles that can begin to “shut off” after too much sitting.  Come ready to experiment with postural exercises designed to undo that nasty sitting posture.

Wednesday, February 26th 7:30-9pm
– Anatomy, Movement and Self-care

In this workshop you will learn step-by-step skills to lovingly care for your body and prevent injuries from the ground up.  Focusing on our physical and energetic connection to “grounded-ness”, we will explore the anatomy and movement of the feet and ankles, as well as stretches, exercises and self-care rituals to connect with this hard working part of our bodies.  Learn helpful tips and tricks to keep the feet youthful and prevent/improve conditions such as bunions and plantar fasciitis. Come with clean socks/feet as we will be spending time doing some self massage as well J

Wednesday, March 5th 7:30-9pm
– re-framing our relationship with food

In this workshop we will talk about the impact of eating habits and food choices on blood sugar and how that can dramatically impact our overall health.  From shakiness and headaches to diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease, blood sugar instability can hurt us and damage our bodies, our relationships with others and our lives.  The amazing news is that blood sugar stability is a factor that we can control!  Different concepts regarding food will be presented and ways to eat to balance blood sugar, reduce inflammation and manage stress will be introduced.  Learn to balance your blood sugar and never be *hangry again!

*hungry + angry = hangry

Wednesday, March 26th 7:30-9pm
– the essentials for a healthy, happy back!

Whether you currently live with back pain or want to learn how to prevent it, this workshop is for you.  Come learn about the essential components of back health.  Some of the topics to be discussed will include specific movements of the spine, developing postural support muscles, how sitting impacts the back, what lifestyle choices can help or hurt your back and what modalities are available to help prevent and relieve back pain. Come ready to experiment with postural exercises to see what works for you to develop a home based self-care practice.

If you are interested in reserving your spot now for any of these workshops (which I recommend since space is limited), please call or text me (612.321.6913), FB message me, email me ( or visit the Spark Wellness website.

Take Care,


Martha DeSante DC, CYT

What is Back in Body, and why does it matter?

What is Back in Body, and why does it matter?

Martha DeSante, Back in Body, Blog Post

My name is Martha DeSante. My life purpose is to help people reconnect with their bodies and learn to inhabit them with love and joy. I help people heal from the wounds of denying themselves priority, pleasure and play. I love to assist people as they reclaim their power as the CEO of their health and wellness using the tools of the awesome chiropractic adjustment, muscle work (hands-on, Graston/Gua Sha), nutritional support, personally prescribed yoga, Pilates, and postural exercises, breath and awareness. What better way to honor the body than learning how to provide self care, and being open to experiencing healing with skillful, loving bodywork?

I created Back In Body as a wake-up call to help us remember that our bodies are sacred gifts.  Our mission is to support those who hear this call and know that the radical path of self-love is for them.  From a place of self-love and acceptance, we can experience a true sense of love and connection with others.

Back In Body and its mission are vitally important.  I have recognized a desperately sad and pervasive belief that our bodies are not good enough, not something to be celebrated, treasured and enjoyed.  Too often, bodies are seen as objects… and we can even begin to distance ourselves from living life in our bodies in the first person.  We stop living life for our own experience and worry more about others experience of our own physicality.  We begin to see our body as an object for the approval or consumption of others.  We punish it, berate it, deny it.  We compare it and take all of the wonderful things that it can do for granted.  We subject our bodies to abuse and neglect through our own choices.

We identify with our minds and distance ourselves from this beautiful living animal that we are.  Once this perceived split occurs, the mind often begins to take on a position of more prominent influence.  Slowly but surely, any connection with or compassion for the spirit and particularly for the body begins to disappear.  The forgetting of the sacred nature of the body begins and the messages that come from the body’s innate wisdom are no longer heeded.

The mind can be a great servant, but a terrible master.   Unfortunately, many times the roles become reversed and the mind acts as master and subjugates the body.  If not properly trained, the mind can be a truly brutal and punishing master, causing a person to treat the body poorly, through the avenues of both abuse and neglect.  The mind has tremendous potential to be either our worst and most destructive enemy or our most beautifully powerful ally… the outcome all depends on how we train it!

Learning to rebuild a loving and caring relationship with my own body is a big part of my personal path to healing and wholeness.  Utilizing an approach of learning to love the self through the physical body has had profound effects for me, and many others.  This process is simple, but simple rarely equates with easy.  Maintaining a positive relationship with yourself, all body-mind-spirit of you, isn’t a one time thing… or a “well, I’m glad I finally achieved that so I can be done with it now” kind of thing.  It’s also not going to be all sunshine and farts!  It’s the same as with any relationship that you want to keep alive and healthy.  Ongoing attention and intention must be developed in this relationship… regular communication and authentic, meaningful connection must occur moving forward from this day, when you choose to begin this journey of love to the end of your time in this glorious physical form.

If the pain and trauma you are carrying and your own personal story of life experiences feels overwhelmingly heavy, take heart!  Just as this harmful attitude and approach to the physical body can be developed, it can also be undone!  My own personal way to healing is through learning to live in, love, celebrate and cherish my body and to forgive my mind, transforming her into my closest ally and best friend.  Through learning to respect my whole self, I began to feel reconnected with my spirit again!  I am happy to share what I have learned through this process with you.

This work doesn’t have to be done in large and insurmountable steps.  More often it is the budding awareness that allows us to find new and simple ways to be kinder and softer with our selves.  To love ourselves more.  To learn to revel in the joy of being in and BEING a human body!

I can’t promise that it will always be easy, but it will transform your life in ways that at first may seem hard to imagine.  Greater love and acceptance of self and others, less stress and anxiety and greater enjoyment of sensory experiences can all grow from developing a caring and respectful relationship with the body.

I invite you to explore my new website, check out my current service offerings and to please “like” the Back in Body Facebook page and/or sign up for the e-newsletter if this mission feels aligned with your values.  Liking the Facebook page and signing up for the e-newsletter will allow you to find out about new workshops, products and services as they become available, as well as free inspirational videos and blog posts about exquisite self care.  Future topics will include themes about posture and movement, nourishing food choices, developing the mind as an ally, breath and meditation, and restorative and health promoting practices.  Thank you for taking the time to read this!  Please share this and any other blog posts with your friends and family through social media if you feel like they would appreciate the Back in Body message.

<3 Martha

Martha DeSante DC, CYT


For some other self love and radical self acceptance resources:

The Body Is Not An Apology

Body Image Movement

Infinite Mind Hypnosis and Coaching

Spark Wellness