No other practice that engages in the science of wellbeing emphasizes on the need and benefits of a daily routine more than Ayurveda. This is not an exaggeration. In fact, Ayurveda has an entire sub-topic dedicated to uncovering the health benefits of following a daily routine, and how such a discipline can be integrated and maintained in our volatile lives.
We are of course talking about Dinacharya, the Ayurvedic concept behind an ideal daily routine. Dinacharya specifically looks at the cycles of nature and bases daily activities or rituals that abide by these cycles diligently.
Ayurveda claims that understanding the daily cycles of nature is extremely crucial in prescribing a routine that can prove beneficial for our health. Routines can both establish balance while radically changing our body, mind and consciousness in pursuit of optimal wellbeing.
Getting Started with Dinacharya
Before getting on board with a daily routine, it is imperative to consider what the impact of a daily routine is going to be on your short and long-term health. In the beginning, you will have mustered enough motivation to begin Dinacharya, however it needs to become a habit if you are to succeed in your endeavor entirely.
Initially you can implement only self-care practices in your daily routine, carry this for two weeks and eventually add more activities to your routine. This way you won’t be overwhelmed with the practice. Remember, the idea is to turn these routines into lifelong habits, just like brushing your teeth.
So, without much further ado, let’s looks at what your ideal daily routine would look like according to Dinacharya.
Daily Morning Routine – Best Done between 6AM and 10AM
The below routines are best done during the Kapha dominated time of the day, when you have the most strength and endurance.
Wake Up Early
Waking up early is crucial to the success of following your daily routine diligently. According to Dinacharya, it is advisable to wake up before the sun rises as the sattvic qualities in nature are most dominant at this time and can bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses.
Ayurveda dictates a specific waking pattern pertaining to the three doshas
- Vata individuals should awake with the sun.
- Pitta individuals should wake up ½ hour before the sun
- Kapha individuals should wake up one hour before the sun.
Ayurveda also recommends checking your hands once you do wake up, and then rub them all over your face, down to the chest in order to clean your aura.
Clean your Face and Scrape your Tongue
Once fully awake, splash your face with cold water. Wash your eyes with cold water and massage your eyelids gently. Rinse your mouth and try to scrape your tongue, specifically with a copper tongue scrapper if you can. The scraping of tongue is important to eliminate ama and free radicals from your mouth. Tongue scrapping also stimulates your taste buds and promotes healthy digestion. Try scraping the whole surface with 10-14 strokes.
Ayurveda recommends using pungent, astringent, and bitter toothpaste to brush your teeth with. Traditionally, neem sticks are a great Ayurvedic tool to dislodge the food particles stuck in between your teeth. Alternatively, licorice sticks can also be used.
Oil pulling is gaining quite a fan base in the western world in recent years. It is an extremely beneficial practice that keeps your teeth white, and plague free, while also pulling toxins from the mouth and offering you a good gum massage.
Oil pulling is basically the ritual of rinsing or swooshing oil in your mouth for about twenty minutes to maintain optimal oral health and hygiene. You can use coconut oil to undertake this ritual as it does have antifungal and antibacterial properties. However, Ayurveda highly recommends sesame oil for this process.
Drink Water with Lemon
Drinking water on an empty stomach with lemon is a great way to kick-start your day. Drinking warm lemon water can reignite the agni in your body, improve digestion and prepare it for smooth bowel movements. Lemon is also a very rich source of Vitamin C, thus helping keep your bodies immunity at an optimal level. This ritual can also boost your metabolism and assist in weight loss.
For proper bowel movements in the morning, Ayurveda suggests squatting on the toilet. According to Ayurveda, it is considered healthy to have 1-3 bowel movements a day. If these bowel movements are absent even for a day, then there might be a problem.
Eating unhealthy food last night can severely hinder your bowel movements and lead to constipation. Hence, it is recommended to have something nourishing before you go to bed. Alternatively, nostril breathing can also help with your bowel movements.
In Ayurveda, the nasal passageways are considered as the entry points by which prana can enter our body. Hence, it is important to keep our passageways clean, and healthy. The Ayurvedic practice of nasya can help accomplish this.
Using nasal drops made of ghee, herbs and other essential oils can do the job of cleaning up sinuses, while also promoting clarity of vision, smell, sound and mind. Nasya is also a widely recommended ritual to promote intelligence.
The following are some oils you can use to perform nasya pertaining to your doshas.
- Vata – Sesame Oil, Ghee, Calamus Oil
- Pitta – brahmi, ghee, sunflower oil
- Kapha – Calamus oil aka Vacha oil
Karana Purana (Ear Drops)
Your ears can also be congested with wax, which can lead to poor hearing, lockjaw and TMJ. Excess Vata is the cause of above disorders. Thankfully, applying a few drops of sesame oil in your ears can help you find relief from the problem.
Don’t just stop with your nose and ears. Massaging your body with essential oil is a great way of relaxing it and preparing you for the day. Applying oil onto hair can help tackle hair loss, premature balding, scalp itching and so much more.
The following are some oils you can use to perform Abhyanga pertaining to your doshas.
- Vata – Warm Sesame Oil
- Pitta – Warm Coconut or Sunflower oil
- Kapha – Warm Mustard or Sunflower oil
Performing Asana, or what is famously known as Yoga in western culture, can be a very relaxing and powerful way to begin your day. Ayurveda recommends at least 10-30 minutes of rigorous doshic balancing of asanas in the morning. These asanas can help in improving flexibility, increasing circulation, cultivating balance and building strength.
Pranayama are the breathing exercises recommended in Ayurveda. Performing Pranayama in the morning allows you to invite prana (life-force) into your body. This life force ultimately helps in awakening the mind, cultivating the energy our body needs and maintaining balance. There are a variety of pranayama exercises to choose from. Simply choose the one that suits you best.
Meditation is a fascinating way to start your day along with pranayama. The ultimate goal of meditation is to push your body into a state of awareness where your body is calm and mind is focused. There are a multitude of proven scientific benefits to be had with Meditation. Some of which are as follows:
- Decimate Stress and Anxiety
- Minimize inflammation in the body
- Decimates depression
- Promotes self-awareness
- Improved memory
- Promotes self-development
Finally, once you are done with your asana and pranayama, it is time to jump into the shower. A shower early morning is necessary to cleanse your body, and get rid of any dirt, or odor plaguing your body. Ayurveda recommends gently exfoliating your body with salt or sugar scrub.
A well balanced wholesome breakfast is crucial in you being able to get through the day. Ayurveda recommends eating whole foods in combination with fruits, herbs, and spices that can reignite the agni in your body and bequeath it with enough energy to speed through the day with ease. Ayurveda recommends a light meal in hot months or when your agni is diminishing, and more heavy meals during cooler months.
Daily Daytime Routine
Pitta Energy – 10 am – 2PM
The time around 10 am – 2 pm is considered to be the time where pitta is the strongest. As such, this time should be used to get the most challenging tasks of the day accomplished. There is increased focus and clarity of thought around this time.
It is also recommended to have your heaviest meal during this time. This will help in reigniting the agni, assimilating food and improving overall digestion of the body. This is also the time of the day wherein you must try to avoid sun exposure and engaging in any strenuous physical activity.
Vata Energy – 2pm – 6pm
This is the time when the vata energy begins to peak. As vata is signified with air and ether elements, this time should be used to engage in tasks of creative and problem solving nature. This is also the time wherein your attention span might go into decline, so avoid high sugar and caffeinated drinks to help you maintain your focus. Opt for herbal tea concoctions or a quick afternoon stroll instead.
Kapha Energy – 6pm -9pm
This is the time when the Kapha dosha is at its most dominant state. As such, the time brings with it a feeling of grounding heaviness. This is the perfect time for a relaxing walk or yoga. Don’t try to do a lot during this time as your body and mind are already exhausted from an entire day’s work.
Sleep is a very fundamental part of your routine and should not be compromised under any circumstances. Sleep is necessary for your body to reinvigorate, your soul to heal and your mind to relax. Without sleep, you’re making your body susceptible to a very unproductive next day as well as making it vulnerable to a bunch of notorious diseases.
According to Ayurveda, the best time to sleep is around 10 pm. Most Americans today suffer from inadequate sleep and our lifestyles might be a major cause of this problem. Try to avoid using your cell phone or any bright screen two hours before going to bed. Smartphone exposure can disturb your natural circadian rhythm and make falling asleep very difficult. Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks right before bed as well.
Here are a few tips you can follow to get adequate sleep
- Turn off or dim overhead light to set the mood
- Put away all your electronic devices at least two hours before going to bed
- Get yourself in bed 15 minutes earlier than the night before.