CHAPTER 11: AYURVEDIC HEALTHY ROUTINES
11.1 Effect of Seasons and Weather on your Body
As temperatures dip, the days get shorter and the air becomes dry. This is how a season makes its onset. Seasonal changes can be easily seen in the environment like leaves changing their colours, animals hibernating etc. Humans too have to change their habits and adapt themselves to the new weather conditions to remain in good health.
AN ANCIENT AYURVEDIC TEXT, ASHTANGA HRIDAYAM, SAYS THAT “DURING THIS PERIOD, THE REGIMEN OF THE PRECEDING SEASON SHOULD BE DISCONTINUED GRADUALLY AND THAT OF THE SUCCEEDING SEASON SHOULD BE GRADUALLY ADOPTED. SUDDEN DISCONTINUANCE OR SUDDEN ADOPTION GIVES RISE TO IMBALANCES CAUSED BY ASTHMA (NON-HABITUATION).”
Ayurveda recommends that you tune into the constantly changing cycle of life around you, These cycles shape your experiences, as well as your connection to your body and the world. By adapting and recognising these seasonal changes, you can embrace the different rhythms of nature.
The dynamic impact of seasons on human health had been recognised by Ayurveda centuries ago. The change in climate that we experience affects our state of being, and is also determined by a person’s Dosha or metabolic type.
The Sanskrit term, Dinacharya, denotes daily Ayurvedic rituals which are supplemental to a healthy lifestyle. Healthy routines play a role in both detoxification and nourishment of the body. Your daily habits (dinacharya) play an integral role in your overall health, through not just food and lifestyle choices, but also subtle thoughts. On a metabolic level, it establishes balance in your body constitution and regularizes your body clock, it supports digestion, absorption and assimilation procedures. It also plays a psychological role by enabling self-esteem, peace, discipline and longevity.
Dinacharya should be practised from the moment you wake up in the morning. It allows you to maintain bodily health, wellness and happiness. This can be practiced through a daily routine which includes key Ayurvedic rituals. The visible positive effects of Dinacharya also make it highly addictive.
Let’s begin with the earliest hours of our day to understand how Dinacharya can be incorporated into your life.
11.2.1 Ideal Morning Routine (6 am-10 am)
MORNINGS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE DAY. IT IS A SIGN THAT A NEW DAY HAS STARTED AND YOU SHOULD USE IT WISELY.
If you feel lethargic in the morning, your entire day tends to be unproductive and wasted. Likewise, a fresh and energetic start to the day yields better productivity and positivity levels. productive day with positive emotions. Hence, it is necessary to fix a proper morning routine where you should devote enough time for yourself. An ideal morning routine that you can follow between 6 am to 10 am can be outlined by the following activities.
- Tongue cleaning
- Clean teeth and gums
- Face wash
- Oil pulling
- Drink ample warm water
- Neti pot (cleaning nasal passage)
- Self- Abhyanga
- Pranayama exercise
- Shower and Skincare
- Healthy Breakfast
- Ayurvedic Ginger Tea
A successful morning routine kick-starts your entire day. It sets you in a state of steady energy, productivity, and peace. As your day proceeds, a positive state of mind and body can be sustained by utilising your Dosha Clock. Given below are more details on the six times zones of the day, and the most appropriate activities during each one.
11.2.2 How to optimize time using the Dosha Clock
Each day, you experience six 4-hour time zones – three during the daytime and three at night. Each time period is dominated by a particular dosha, and thus influenced by the qualities of that dosha. Overall, we see each dosha twice in a 24-hour day.
- Kapha dosha is related to stability
- Heaviness on waking can be cured through stretching, walk or workout to stimulate and warm the body
- Waking is best done during earlier hours of the day
- You should try waking during the early hours of kapha because waking up late can lead to low energy and lethargy throughout the day
- However, this is not the best time for the heaviest meal as it can make you feel more sluggish and bloated
- One should opt for a light, nourishing and energizing breakfast.
- Pitta is related to transformation and digestion.
- During the pitta hours, you should have the big meals of the day
- Your body is active with digestive juices and you can easily stimulate agni. Therefore, you should eat really well during these hours so that your body can digest food well.
- Vata is concerned with both bodily and mental movements
- Concerns both the nervous system and sensory experience
- Spurs creativity
- Sufficient rest is necessary for high energy levels and mental functioning
- Attempt at reducing mental stress through a stroll, sipping some warm tea or simply resting
- Vata is the most sensitive dosha and can easily go out of balance
- During this time, kapha tries to prepare us for a good, sound sleep and rest
- You can also do some light exercise like stretching or yoga during this time
- It is better to eat early and in small proportions to stimulate digestion, relax the body and prepare it for the next day
- Simple things like dim lights, soothing music, lighting a scented candle can have a relaxing and positive impact
- The second installment of pitta is about maintaining good digestion
- Sleeping early and smooth functioning of the body is necessary
- Being awake is not advisable as it can stimulate hunger; as a result of which eating at midnight can drastically affect functioning
- Being awake during this time can stimulate hunger and eating at midnight has a drastic impact on your digestion
- Therefore, avoid midnight snacking and ensure good sleep
- This vata cycle indicates the need for spiritual practice
- Dreams are most common at this time, as one is asleep
- Dreams at this time can contain meaningful insights and interpretations
- If you wake up during this time, you might find it difficult to sleep again
- If you do wake up at this time, your natural hormones begin to wean off
The beauty of Dinacharya is that these tips are flexible and can be tweaked as per your current priorities and lifestyle. The final point the Dosha clock stresses on is your evening routine, which is just as important in ensuring sufficient sleep and a wholesome day following the same.
11.2.3 Evening Routine
FOLLOWING AN EVENING ROUTINE IS AS IMPORTANT AS A MORNING ONE. IT RELAXES AND REJUVENATES YOUR BODY AND RESTORES YOUR ENERGY LEVELS . IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO SLEEP WELL ON TIME, PREFERABLY BEFORE 10 PM.
Ayurveda also recommends consuming Triphala, which is a unique combination of three native Indian fruits. It is a polyherbal preparation of bibhitaki, amalaki, and haritaki. Triphala is known to enhance digestion, stimulate sleep, aid constipation and support the Doshas. It has also been shown to strengthen the immune system, promote oral health, and treat fatigue, gastric distress, cancer, and AIDS. Although you can find it in a tablet form through the market today, consuming it raw in the form of fruits is shown to be most effective.
Daily routines are relatively simple to understand and apply. However, seasonal changes in the environment call for subtle lifestyle shifts of the body as well. These are not always easy to transition into. The Ayurvedic concept of Ritucharya outlines how this may best be achieved.
The word ritu means seasons, and charya means routine. In Ayurveda, ritu or seasons is significant to leading a wholesome and healthy lifestyle, while also promoting happiness.. Ayurvedic guidelines prescribe a healthy diet and lifestyle changes throughout the year, including a number of ayurvedic detoxifications. These enable high spirits and bodies, keeping our lives fulfilled.
As per Ayurveda, the year is divided into two periods, each containing three seasons: Uttarayana, the cold months, which includes the seasons of Sharath, Hemanta, and Shishira, and Dakshinayana, the warm months, which includes the seasons Vasanta, Grishma, and Varsha.
11.3.1: Sharath Ritucharya
Sharath Ritu is the period between mid September to mid November. It is marked by a strong presence of agni, or digestive fire, owing to which water and fire are prominent energies associated with this season. This is hence the best time to pacify Pitta energies. The main aim of this season is to transition smoothly into the winter season. This helps to cleanse and purify the body and prepare your digestive system for the next season. Virechana is an effective seasonal therapy which serves this purpose.
11.3.2: Hemanta Ritucharya
Hemantha ritu is from mid November to mid January, during which agni is the strongest. The energies of Earth and Water are highly dominating, which in turn pacifies one’s Pitta Dosha. This season aims at keeping the body well nourished. It is the time to eat warm food so that the digestive agni keeps burning. Treatments like VIrechna, Abhyanga and Swedana are some of the Ayurvedic treatments that one can undertake.
11.3.3: Shishira Ritucharya
Shishira ritu is from mid January and extends until mid March. This season is wet and cold. It is high in Kapha energy and hence agni needs to burn even brighter to keep the body in balance. Astringent and cold foods should be avoided. Abhyanga, Swedana and Patar Potli are few Ayurvedic treatments that should be undertaken during this season.
11.3.4: Vasanta Ritucharya
Vasanta Ritu acts as a transition period towards warmer seasons, and takes place from mid march to mid may. Earth and Air combine to make this time lively and refreshing. However, Kapha starts to disperse which douses agni and might cause discomfort. Nasya is a great treatment for this season.
11.3.5: Grishma Ritucharya
Grishima ritu indicates the onset of the summer season, and lasts from mid May to mid July. Fire and air energies are dominant, and dryness begins, which in turn increases Pitta and Vata energies in your body. Agni is quite low during this time. Abhyanga and Shridhora are prescribed treatments for this season.
11.3.6: Varsha Ritucharya
Varsha ritu lasts from mid July to mid September. This is the rainy season, marked by frequent rains and wetness. Earth and Fire energies rise at this time, coinciding with low levels of Agni. It is the perfect time to practise Panchkarma.
It must be noted that throughout each of these cycles, there are certain uncompromisable ‘pillars of wellness’ despite the changing nature of the environment and body. These must be incorporated into daily routines for ideal health. Move on to chapter 12 here, which looks at Ayurveda as a way of life.
You can refer back to the broader course outline here.
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