Who does not want to feel healthy and begin their day feeling full of energy and vitality? Over time I have adapted my Dinacharya or Ayurveda daily routine to fit as many of the rituals below in as possible. It’s a great way to begin and end the day as Ayurveda is all about self care and aligning with your Prakriti or true nature.
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Ideally wake up before 6am as after this time the Kapha cycle begins, which tends to feel heavier. Rising during the vata time will lend itself to a lighter and clearer nature. (there are some exceptions here, for example small children and their parents)
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Upon rising it is important to eliminate toxins and the previous day’s waste as this build up can affect our mood, digestion, and immunity. Elimination is done through urination and bowel movement. Drinking a cup of warm water may help with this process.
Cleansing the senses
Washing the eyes with water, using a neti pot to clean the sinuses and using a tongue scraper and oil pulling (gargling oil such as coconut) to clear excess ama or digestive impurities from the tongue.
Abhyanga or self-massage is a great way to tone the skin and muscles whilst calming the mind and soothing the nervous system. Using your preferred oil (I like sweet almond) massage the head, face and neck. Follow this by massaging the arms and legs using long up and down strokes. Use a circular motion going clockwise over the tummy finishing with up and down strokes along the feet. It is also a good idea to wait a few minutes before showering to allow the oil to soak in.
Yoga & Breathing Exercises
Now it is time for your daily exercise or Vyayama. Exercise is a great way to get the blood flowing and endorphins released. Your exercise could be a brisk walk, some yoga, a bike ride or basically anything that gets you moving. Pranayama techniques can be quite varied so it might be helpful to practice these with a teacher or just begin with diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing), breathing in through the nose for a count of 3 allowing the tummy to expand then breathing out the mouth slowly for a count of 3 as the tummy gently moves back down.
Be here now
A meditation practice is essential if we are to discover who we really are. The amount of time spent in silence increases our capacity for self-awareness. Daily practice is essential in cultivating this field of silence, as it is not possible to stop our thoughts, but we can learn to ease the fluctuations of our conceptual mind. Meditation brings us to an understanding that we are more than our thoughts, actions, and feelings, creating distance between our thinking mind and what we may refer to as our soul or jiva. We see beyond our perceived reality learning to connect to our awareness and live more in the present moment.
Daily bathing is another way we can look after our body as it removes dirt and sweat, keeping us refreshed and energised. A warm shower in the morning is a great way to refresh and start the day.
Ayurveda tends to favour warm cooked nutritious food. Understanding your dosha and acknowledging the season is important as it means we are nourishing the body with the necessary seasonal foods. This will support our own internal homeostasis and our external environment.
Work it out
Mid-Morning is a great time to be productive. Whether it is work or study this is a time when the energy from the sun is rising, peaking around lunchtime. We can harness this energy from mid-morning to early afternoon utilising this to get focused and busy on our projects.
Lunch is best taken when the sun is at its highest as it is also believed that our digestion works best around this time. Making lunch the biggest meal of the day may help if you struggle to digest a heavy meal later. Remember an Ayurvedic diet prefers cooked foods over lots of cold salads and juices so perhaps planning your meals ahead of time will help ensure you eat healthy.
Afternoon Pick Me Up
Many people notice a dip of energy mid-afternoon. Energy from the sun is beginning to dwindle around this time and Ayurveda encourages us to notice the elements and how these affect us. It might help to take a walk-in nature or take rest with yoga nidra. Either one of these will boost your energy and may be more beneficial than a caffeine or sugar filled snack which will affect sleep patterns later.
Eat dinner before the sun goes down, which can differ during the winter and summer seasons. Aiming for around 5pm and no later than 7pm is a good option and will help will digestion and sleep.
Time for bed
An ideal bedtime should be no later than 10pm. This will ensure you get the adequate 7-8 hours rest. Slowing down in the evening, lessening screen time and the temptation to work will help improve sleep. Creating a calming space will also help, so no television or bright lights. Filling your bedroom with soothing scents like lavender and vetiver and using cotton bedsheets and supportive pillows will make your nights rest as comfortable as possible.
Remember this is a general guide to live by, helping you to maintain a routine that supports your wellbeing. There may be days when your routines differ such as when you travel so it is perfectly ok to just do a few of the steps if the whole routine feels too much or does not fit your schedule.
I hope you enjoy establishing a new routine and that this brings you more energy, health, and happiness.