The Rhythm of Daily Living
A daily routine is essential to bring healthy change to the body, mind, and spirit.
How you live your life determines your health and your experience of life.Your choices and habits either build you up or wear you down. In Ayurveda, misuse of the senses is considered one of the main causes of disease. The daily routine, referred to as dinacharya (dee-nuh-char-ya), offers simple practices to sharpen our senses and bring clarity to the mind, so that we naturally gravitate toward desires that are life enhancing. Paying attention to oureveryday choices puts us in harmony with nature’s rhythms and creates a foundation for living a deeply satisfying life.
Arise & Shine
Wake up before the sun rises. There are peaceful (sattvic) qualities in nature that bring peace of mind and awaken the senses. While you are still in bed say a prayer, think about something you are grateful for, affirm the possibilities that lie before you. Early to bed and early to rise is not just an empty saying—getting to bed earlier can improve the quality of your sleep and give your body the extra rest you need to perform your best. Research shows that Americans are chronically sleep deprived—getting 25% less sleep than they did 100 years ago. Sleep deprivation depletes brain reserves and increases the stress response.
Ayurveda uses the Sanskrit words amrita vela (ahm-ree-tah vel-uh) which translates as “ambrosial hours” to display the importance of the early hours of each day.
“The healthy person should get up (from bed) during the ambrosial hours, to protect his life.” Charaka Samhita: Sutrasthanam:II
The first moments of a day set the tone for our experience. If we allow the first attention of the day to be peaceful, grateful and infused with a sense of joy, it is more likely that our day will be pleasant.
Drink Water in the Morning
First thing in the morning drink a glass of hot to warm water. Nothing in it, just hot water. This helps you have a regular morning bowel movement and flushes out toxins.
Clean Your Face, Mouth ,and Eyes to Awaken the Senses
Splash your face with cold water and rinse out your mouth. The senses are how we take in information from the world around us. This practice will sharpen and refine the senses to bring greater clarity to your perceptions and your experience of life.
Wash Your Eyes
Rinse your eyeballs with cool water and gently massage the eyelids. Blink 7 times and rotate your eyes in all directions.
Clean Your Teeth
Always use a soft toothbrush and toothpaste or powder that is astringent (to strengthen the gums), pungent (to stimulate blood flow to the gums), and bitter (to kill bacteria).
Some people reverse the condition of receding gums and avoid surgery simply by switching to an Ayurvedic toothpaste. A few well-known brands that are relatively easy to find are Auromere and Vicco. The Auromere orginal flavor is an Ajara staff family favorite!
Gently scrape your tongue from back to front 7x using a tongue scraper. This removes bacteria from the mouth and stimulates the digestive system. The tongue is the mirror of the intestines. When there is a white coating on the tongue, this indicates that undigested food toxins called ama (ah mah) are in the digestive system.
To strengthen teeth, gums, and jaw, improve the voice and remove wrinkles from cheeks, gargle twice a day with warm sesame oil. Hold the oil in your mouth, swish it around vigorously, then spit it out and gently massage the gums with a finger.
Sit, or better yet, use a “squatty potty” on the toilet and have a bowel movement. Improper digestion of the previous night’s meal or lack of sleep can prevent this. Drinking warm water, followed by sitting on the toilet at a set time each day helps to regulate bowel movements. A healthy bowel movement is well-formed, shaped like a banana, floats, and has little to no odor. Undigested food, unformed or loose stools, mucus or blood, excessive dryness and strong odor can be signs that your digestion is not working properly. Herbal remedies and dietary changes can help restore your digestive fire, which Ayurveda calls Agni (ahg knee).
Nasal Drops--Nasya (nas ya)
Putting 3 to 5 drops of warm ghee or medicated oil into each nostril in the morning helps to lubricate the nose, cleans and protects the sinuses, improves the voice, vision, and mental clarity. Our nose is the door to the brain; nose drops nourish prana and enhance intelligence. Nasya is said to address all ailments above the shoulders.
Apply Oil to the Head & Body--Abhyanga (ahb yan gha)
Massage is an excellent way to detoxify and nourish the tissues in the body. The rubbing and stroking actions dislodge accumulated toxins, which then move out of the body through the digestive system. Gentle, daily oil massage promotes healthy aging, improves circulation, calms the nervous system, increases vitality, strengthens vision, prevents dehydration, nourishes the skin, stimulates the immune system, remedies insomnia, and restores balance in the body/mind. Massage oils are an ancient and effective medium for delivering plant medicine. Be thorough and don’t forget the bottoms of your feet, ears and hands. Let the oil soak in for approximately 20 minutes before taking awarm shower or bath. Use a mild, natural soap where needed. Consider receiving abhyanga from an Ayurvedic professional to experience its full benefits.
“Abhyanga should be resorted to daily, it wards off old age, exertion and aggravation for Vata; bestows good vision, nourishment to the body, long life, good sleep, good and strong skin…” Charaka Samhita: Sutrasthanam:II
Exercise restores and rejuvenates the body/mind and alleviates stress and fatigue. Regular exercise, especially yoga, improves circulation, strength, and endurance. It helps one relax, have sound sleep, and improves digestion and elimination. Exercise daily to half of your capacity, which is until sweat forms on the forehead, armpits, and spine. Do warming yoga sequences like sun salutations or take a brisk walk.
Bathing, yes, everyday!
Bathing is cleansing and refreshing. It removes not only dirt and pollutants but also negativity and the past. It brings new energy to the body and clarity to the mind. Use a gentle soap, without chemicals.
Breath = Life
The breath, called prana, is a powerful tool for health and well-being. It is a conduit that unifies the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. Make pranayama (prah nah yah mah), which are specific and specialized breathing techniques, a part of your daily practice.
Two common pranayama practices are breath-of-fire and alternate-nostril-breath, called nadi shodana (nah dee show dah nuh). Depleted oxygen in the body’s cells gives rise to muscle aches, weak digestion, dizziness, depression, irrational behavior, weakness, irritability, memory loss and circulation problems. Pranayama can help reverse this.
Basic Nadi Shodana
Facing east or north, sit comfortably on the floor in a crossed-legged position, or upright on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Gently exhale all air. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale slowly and deeply into the lungs through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring finger, release the thumb, and slowly exhale through the right nostril. At the end of the exhalation, inhale through the right nostril, then close it with the thumb and exhale through the left nostril. This makes one round. Begin with 10 rounds and gradually increase to 40.
Meditate at sunrise and sunset for at least 15 minutes (or as long as you have). Set a timer so you don’t have to think about how long it has been. Meditate to relieve stress. Meditate for clarity of mind. Meditate to bring balance and peace into your life! There are numerous meditation techniques. Some examples are simply focusing on the breath or repeating a mantra. There are many guided meditations available for free. Let go of any fear of doing it wrong, just sit and breathe. Remember it’s a practice, it’s not necessarily easy.
Dietary Guidelines--Breakfast like a prince, Lunch like a king, Dinner like a pauper
Eat when you feel hungry. Begin each meal with a prayer blessing your food and three deep breaths. Always eat sitting down in order to ground vata. Finish each meal with 3 deep breaths. Eat with mindfulness and an intention to nourish the body. Avoid negativity and distraction. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for specific guidelines about eating for your constitution. Chew food well to stimulate your digestive juices. Remember, everything you ingest becomes part of you. Choose foods that will benefit and rejuvenate your body.
Daily Schedule Example**
Wake up Get up between 5-6 AM. It is especially important for kapha to be awake before 6 a.m. when the atmosphere becomes heavier.
Vata hours 2-6 a.m. is a sattvic time, where we can find clarity and connection to divinity through meditation and prayer.
Exercise Move during the heavy Kapha hours between 6 and 10 a.m.
Breakfast around 7-8 AM “like a prince” with enough protein and healthy fats to create fuel for the day.
Pitta hours 10-2 p.m. aim to consume the largest meal when the Sun is highest. The heart of your work is best done while pitta reigns – the best time for focus and achievement
Lunch 12 -1 PM “like a king”
Vata hours 2-6 p.m. here the energies are light and busy, tending toward frantic movement and transitioning--be mindful. Find stillness, practice pranayama, limit movement.
Dinner 5-6 PM light easily digested food--soup or kitchari “like a pauper”
Kapha hours 6-10PM Meat before the heavy, slow qualities of kapha set in.
Sundown is a special time of balance between night and day. This can be a time where it is easier to be still long enough to see your true self. It is when many cultures take time for prayer or meditation. A great time for reading, family activities and music.
Sleep 9:00-10 PM best to be asleep before 10
Pitta hours 10PM -2AM--you need to be sleeping for pitta (liver/bile) to do its work.
One should try to keep their routine as regular as possible. The body might resist the change for the first few days, but if you do manage to persist, you are bound to get rewarded with a much healthier and satisfying life.
** Please note the practices described above are general Ayurvedic guidelines. It is best to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for your specific needs.
Whitney is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Vedic Astrologer, and Ajara Team Member. She is available for consultations, astrology readings, and herb purchasing. If you are interested in any of these services, you may contact her directly or visit her Facebook page.