Ayurvedic Dinacharya - Daily Routine
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
The Daily Routine, or Dinacharya in sanskrit, is a very important part of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, after all it's the things that we do every day that impact our wellbeing the most, and we want to maximise the positives effects.
By following a daily routine we really start to flow through our day, our stress reduces as we know what to expect, when our stress is reduced our digestion functions optimally and a strong Agni or digestion is key to good health. In summary our immune systems is strengthened, we are happier and healthier when we follow a daily routine.
This daily routine is recommended for everyone regardless of their constitution, Some adjustments can be made seasonally or as required to best support your unique constitution, for example what oils are used for massage or what yoga asana and exercise intensity you choose you choose.
Throughout the course of the day different qualities come and go, for example there are times we will feel more clear or more active and times where the heat builds up in our body and time where we feel slow and heavy.
The Dinacharya identifies these times and suggests activities that allow us to use these qualities to our advantage and keep the Dosha's balenced and follow our body's natural rhythm.
How the Dosha appear through the day
To give a few examples, some of the qualities of Kapha dosha are heavy, dense, slow and cool and Kapha is most prominent between 6am-10am, when we sleep in or rise after 6am often we feel tired, heavy and lethargic because the lack of movement in our body during sleep combined with the qualities during this time has caused an excess of kapha to accumulate in our body.
The qualities of Vata dosha are subtle, cold, dry, mobile, light and is most prominent between 2am and 6am so when we rise before 6am we usually feel light, alert, cold and mobile. So its best to rise and eliminate the bowels before 6am which is Kapha time.
As the slow, heavy Kapha moves in at around 6am this is the best time to exercise, sun salutations or yoga asana add movement (Vata) and warmth (Pitta) to the body.
Pitta dosha is the only dosha that has the hot quality, it also is quick or sharp, mobile and oily. Pitta dosha rules many functions in our body but for the example we are going to focus on our digestion. Pitta dosha is most prominent from 10am til 2pm, this is the hottest part of the day, the sun is the highest in the sky and therefore the time that heat, digestive enzymes and appetite start to peak. This is the best time to eat our main meal, our largest meal with protein and good fats, the digestion is strong and can best process this food.
In the evening from 6-10pm, slow heavy Kapha returns again, perfect for winding down and preparing for sleep but digestion is weak and this is the time most of us come home and consume our main meal. When we eat a large meal late at night we do not digest it well, ama and excess kapha accumulate and can lead to more heaviness in the morning and even headaches on waking.
Lastly, Vata sneaks in again in the afternoon from 2pm-6pm and this dry, mobile, anxious energy may need calming and grounding , if you are prone to these feelings then warming, grounding, centering activities can help. This may be a warm chai spiced tea, dates, some pranayama (breathing exercises), and simply being mindful to slow down.
So with all of that being said the daily routine was created so that we can live in harmony with the natural rhythms which supports our body to function optimally.
Rise Early and at the same time each day - Ayurveda recommends 96 mins before sunrise which is a very auspicious time of day read more here otherwise aim for 6am or earlier.
Drink warm water - on rising drink a glass or two of warm water, I like to add a drop of lemon essential oil to my water.
Clean sense organs – Our sense organs are how we perceive and engage with the outside world and using our sense organs incorrectly is one of the three causes of disease according to Ayurveda (calls for a post of its own). As part of our daily routine we take time to nurture and treat these special organs.
- Scrape tongue - check and remove any white coating scrape
- Oil pulling - has many benefits relating to oral hygiene, aesthetics and overall health. This practice has gained so much popularity recently, I like to add some essential oils to my oil for added benefits read more here
- Eyes - Splash face and rinse eyes with cool water. Skin and eyes are seats of Pitta dosha so adding the cool quality is balancing.
- Ears - add a drop of sesame oil to the little finger and apply to the ear. Ears are the seat of Vata dosha and applying this oil is warming, grounding and protecting.
- Nostrils - add a drop of sesame oil to the pinkie finger and massage the inside of the nostril.
Eliminate - A bowel movement each morning is a sign of a healthy digestive system. If you are not going each morning make the time to sit, a foot stool is helpful to create the ideal posture, include more water and fibre, consider adding Triphala to your evening routine. Also a regular clockwise stomach is helpful. I love to use DiGize essential oil for my tummy massage.
Abyanga or oil massage - Applying warm oil to the body is a nurturing act of self care, the oils also create a nice environment to support good skin flora, as well as boosting circulation to all the tissues and extremities. I like to customise my massage oil with essential oils and warm gently by standing my bottle in hot water or warming over a candle.
- Kapha types should use a light, warming, stimulating oil such as mustard seed, or sesame seed oil with added essential oils such as cypress, juniper or grapefruit. If you have excess kapha you may find dry body brushing a nice alternative to the oil massage.
- Pitta types can have sensitive, hot skin so calming, cooling such as coconut oil with floral essential oils such as lavender, rose or sandalwood are perfect to balance.
- Vata types have cold dry body and skin and often cold hands and feet. A warm heavy grounding oil such as sesame oil is perfect paired with grounding essential oils such as vetiver and frankincense.
Yoga Asana - When starting out a sun salutation is the perfect practice, it is easy to remember and you can flow through the asanas at your desired pace and adjust your repetitions.
- Kapha constitutions do well with more repetitions and faster pace to increase the warmth and movement that they lack.
- Pitta types should do medium pace and and average repetitions. Consider the moon salutation as this is a cooling sequence which Pitta needs. Pitta types tend to be competitive so if these thoughts arise bring awareness to this, turn inward and realise this practice is to serve you and you have nothing to prove. Release control through the breath.
- Vata types have excess movement and lightness and need a practice that is still, slow, mindful and restorative. Vata require the least repetitions and slowest pace. Sounds simple but their active bodies and minds can find this challenging.
Shower - It's time to hit the shower, this removes the excess oil from the skin but leaves a beautiful protective, insulating film. It is important not to overheat the head so Ayurveda suggests warm to hot water from shoulders down and cool water on the head, as cool as you can managed depending on the season. You don't want to catch a chill! Using hot water on the head can lead to hair fall and other conditions, its interesting as I have often been told by the hairdresser to rinse with cool to cold water.
Self Enhancing practice or Meditation - Now that our body is clean it is the perfect time to meditate, journal, sit in prayer or be reflective, particularly if you rise early you will be sitting for your meditation at the stillest part of the day just before dawn. If you are new to meditation do not overthink it, simply sitting in stillness with yourself, focusing on your breath is all you need to do. Your practice and self awareness will evolve and mindfulness will begin to spread through all aspects of your life. The key is consistency, sitting regularly for 5mins is better than trying to sit for 30mins once a week.
You are now ready to start your day, try to keep a regular consistent routine where possible with special attention given to meal times.
As mentioned above, honour your digestion (download my Live Wisely Guide for full details) by;
Only eating when hungry
Eat warm spiced foods
Eat mindfully without distraction
Eat slowly and chew your food
Eat your largest meal during pitta time 10am -2pm
Eat a small light dinner at least 4 hours before retiring to bed
Eat organic whole foods, minimise processed foods and artificial ingredients
Eat seasonally, eat local and in time learn to eat for your constitution
Vata energy may peak in the afternoon as mentioned above so if you are prone to this include a warming grounding snack or moment of stillness to reconnect with the breath and the moment.
No surprises here, a regular bedtime is important, here are some other tips;
Allow 4 hours between last meal and bedtime.
Take Triphala for overall wellbeing and to assist with bowels (at least 2 hours after eating and an hour before sleep.)
Minimise the use of electronics and other stimulating activities
Include some quite reflective time, maybe meditate or journal.
Consider the day and release any negativity before retiring to bed.
Pranayama (breath practice) such as Nadi Shodhana is nice to calm and relax the mind.
Include some self care, I like to use some essential oils like lavender, cedarwood and vetiver applied to the soles of the feet.
A few drops of sesame oil on the crown of head can be helpful if you suffer from insomnia.
- Vata types need the most sleep, aim to be in bed before 10pm and aim for 8 hours.
- Pitta types need moderate amount sleep and should retire before 10 pm and aim for 6-7 hours
- Kapha types do best with minimal sleep and can stay up a little later, aim to be in bed by 11pm and 5-6 hours.
Live Wisely, Abbie x
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This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. It is for informational/educational purposes only, and provides Ayurvedic insight about how you can best support your body through seasonal changes.
Always consult your health care professional.