As people say, keeping a daily routine leads to a better life. Well, that’s what they say in Nepal.
In Sanskrit the daily routine is called the Dinacharya. Ayurveda recommends that in order to be optimally healthy we should tune our bodies to the nature’s cycle that regulates the various other rhythms.
Everyday two cycles of change pass through us, each bringing a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha predominance.
The approximate times of these cycles are as follows:
6 A.M. to 10 A.M. – Kapha
10 A.M. to 2 P.M. – Pitta
2 P.M. to 6 P.M. – Vata
6 P.M. to 10 P.M. – Kapha
10 P.M. to 2 A.M. – Pitta
2 A.M to 6 A.M. – Vata
These cycles should be followed to help
– Regularize a person’s biological clock,
– Aid digestion and absorption,
– Generate self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity,
– Establish balance in one’s constitution.
Ayurveda recommends waking up early, something we all dread, in order to bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses. Sunrise varies according to the seasons, but on average vata people should get up about 6 a.m., pitta people by 5.30 a.m., and kapha by 4.30 a.m. During these hours, the Vata element is dominant. Vata is light, subtle and clear and this helps in tuning the body to the delicate messages the nature sends.
It is recommended to drink a glass or two of warm water in order to help in the elimination of waste. This washes the GI tract, flushes the kidneys, and stimulates peristalsis. Unfortunately, it is not a good idea to start the day with tea or coffee, as this drains kidney energy, stresses the adrenals and causes constipation. Also, these drinks are addictive.
As soon as possible, ELIMINATE THE WASTE. Squatting on the toilet leads to a better bowel movement. If you wait until later in the morning or during the day you are slowly poisoning yourself thus creating an opportunity for chronic conditions to arise.
Ayurveda recommends the cleaning of the senses. Wash the eyes with water, preferably with rose water. Brush the teeth and scrape the tongue to purify your mouth and sense of taste. Remember: Ayurveda considers the coating of the tongue as an indicator of ‘Ama’ or toxins in the colon. Gargle with warm water or herbal tea or herbal oil to purify one’s voice and strengthen one’s teeth. The traditional Dinacharya also recommends that one inhale the smoke of medicinal herbs every morning to purify the mind, head, face, neck and lungs. Putting 3 to 5 drops of warm ghee or oil into each nostril in the morning helps to lubricate the nose, clean the sinuses, and improve voice, vision, and mental clarity. Remember: Our nose is the door to the brain.
Meditation is extremely important. For a few minutes to an hour, sit down and see who you really are by putting your attention towards Awareness.
This is the most important aspect of Dinacharya. Simply be quiet and sit in Peace.
Exercises are also important. This is usually some Yoga postures and breathing exercises, but it can be anything including a walk, a swim or sun salutes. This early morning exercise removes stagnation in the body mind, strengthens the digestive fire, reduces fat and gives you an overall feeling of lightness and Joy as it fills your body with good energy. Do not exert too much energy. In fact, exercising at one fourth to one half of your capacity is recommended.
Oil massaging the Scalp, forehead, temples , hand and feet for about 5 minutes is sufficient is also good after exercising.
For vata dominant use warm sesame oil.
For pitta dominant use warm sunflower or coconut oil.
For kapha dominant use warm sunflower or mustard oil.
After exercising and using oil, bathe in order to remove any excess oil and dirt. Use warm water and put on clean clothing after the bath. Bathing is cleansing and refreshing. It removes sweat, dirt, and fatigue, brings energy to the body, clarity to the mind, and holiness to your life.
Breakfast should be warm, nourishing and wholesome.
Lunch should be taken early between 12 and 1 P.M. to coincide with the peak Pitta period. Remember: Pitta is responsible for the digestion. Ayurveda recommends that the lunch should be the largest meal of the day. After the meal it is good to take a little walk to help the food digest.
Note: Sleeping in the day is prohibited in Ayurveda.
Dinner should be taken around 7 P.M. It should be lighter than the lunch. It should be at least three hours before bedtime to give the body ample time to digest the food.
Go to sleep around 9:30 to 10 P.M. so that you can get 6 to 7 hours of sleep before 4:30 am. A good practice is to massage the soles of your feet with a calming oil before going to bed. This will calm your system and promote well being.
One should try to keep the routine as close to the recommended Dincharya as possible. The body might resist the change for a first few days but if you do manage to persist then you are bound to get rewarded with a much healthier and satisfying life.
All of these notes were provided to me by the Ayurveda Health Home of Kathmandu, Nepal.