In Ayurveda our daily routine is emphasized as a hugely important part of our lifestyle in terms of self-care. This is because it works to manage what Ayurveda considers as the three main causative factors of dis-ease:
1. Improper use of the sense organs
2. Improper use of the mind
3. Change over time
The daily routine helps us to maintain our sense organs so they function optimally. Since the senses are how we interact with the world, their maintenance allows us to experience our lives with more clarity – more reality (back to satya). Having this interaction with reality, knowing what is actually happening, keeps our minds more clear and stable (more satya). The daily routine also provides a stability that supports us in navigating the “change over time” – whether this be a seasonal transition, or a phase of life transition or a transition from Sunday to Monday. From the Ayurvedic view, the deep stability provided by an appropriate daily routine helps us to stay healthy, harmonious, and clear.
Interestingly, modern science is filled with research to further understand epigenetics, which is the study of gene expression (not modification). The research is demonstrating that the lifestyle we follow, the day-to-day choices we make strongly influence the expression of our genes. According to my mentor, up to 15% of our gene expressions are influenced by circadian rhythms, which refers to our biological clock that wants to align with natural rhythms. Modern science is finally supporting what Ayurveda has knows for thousands of years – that a daily routine strongly supports our health and well-being.
Dinacharya is a very beneficial practice for those who struggle with decision fatigue – having to make so many choices every single day. The daily regimen, once it is in place, is no longer about choice. This means you use less of your internal resources, giving you more energy for the rest of your day and more important decisions.
The basic overview of the morning routine as described in the Ayurvedic Classics includes the following:
1. Wake up before the sun
2. Morning elimination of urine and feces
3. Cleanse the sense organs:
i. Mouth: brush teeth, tongue scrape, gargle w warm sesame oil or sea salt water (depending on the season)
ii. Eyes: rinse eyes w cool water
iii. Nose: neti (water and sea salt cleanse) and nasya (oleation)
iv. Ears: warm oil in the ears
v. Skin: Self-oleation (abhyanga) & bathe
4. Drink a glass of warm water
5. Meditate, contemplate, connect to your “Source”
6. Exercise: walk, yoga, etc.
8. Go to work
The rest of the day is not nearly as regimented… Ayurveda is very morning heavy in order to set the tone of stability, clarity and harmony for the day. The beginning of the day has a deep impact on how our entire day can unfold!
The lunchtime routine includes:
1. Eat your largest meal at lunch while your digestive fire is strongest
2. Rest for 5 minutes after eating while leaning to the left, if you can, while lying on the left hand side to support digestion
3. Mindful walk outside
The bedtime routine includes:
1. Go to bed early enough to get up early and still get the amount of sleep you need to be rested – for most ideally between 9:30pm and 10:30pm
2. Forgo screens about 30 mins to 1 hour before heading to bed so the nervous system can begin to unwind and rest. The eyes and brain in particular are affected by screens – if these are sensitive organs for you, give yourself at least an hour before bed without screen time.
3. Massage your feet w warm oil
4. Take a cup of warm tea or spiced milk
In between the “routines”, you fill your day with what you need to – work, rest, good company, and great adventures!
I know when I was first presented the daily routine idea I felt a little overwhelmed at how much it entails. My suggestion to students and clients isn’t to tackle the whole thing today, it’s to choose one thing and set the intention to do that ONE practice daily for two weeks to one month. After that amount of time you will get a sense of if the practice serves you, and if it does keep it. If it doesn’t, let it go. And then commit to practicing a new regimen… Slowly and slowly J
Which of these practices are you already working with? How’s that going? Which new practice might you try out? Let me know!
om shanti & prema (peace & love),