Ayurveda is India’s traditional system of healing and focuses on enhancing ones quality of life including mental, emotional, and spiritual states, as well as physical health.
The simplest way of incorporating Ayurvedic practices into our lives is through our daily routine, known as Dinacharya, which means “to follow the knowledge of the day” in Sanskrit. This is a concept that looks at the cycles of nature and bases daily activities around these cycles. Following a consistent daily routine can be grounding and nourishing, bringing our mind, body, and spirit into balance.
The Ayurvedic Clock
Just as our bodies and the cycles of nature are made up of different energies, known as the Doshas, so are the times of day which are represented by the Ayurvedic clock. At different times of the day our energies will be more aligned with certain activities.
Vata Dosha rules 2-6am and 2-6pm, Kapha Dosha 6-10am and 6-10pm, and Pitta Dosha rules 10-2pm and 10-2am. Vata energy is quick, light, and scattered, which requires focus and grounding. Kapha energy is slow and sluggish requiring stimulation. Pitta energy is focused, sharp, and fiery, requiring cooling and soothing. As we attune ourselves to these energies we will find a natural rhythm that will help guide us and bring about a sense of ease to our day-to-day lives.
There are a number of beneficial practices that you can add into your routine that will help to keep you calm, grounded, focused, and aligned with your energy fluctuations throughout the day. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day is the best place to start. From there you can begin adding in more practices as your energy shifts.
Let’s take a look at a sample daily routine, keeping in mind that it takes time to work in all of these practices! Once you are on a good schedule you will find that these activities really don’t take up a lot of time but can make a huge difference in your energy, mood, and overall health.
Ayurvedic daily routine
You may find you have more time in the morning, or the evening, and can adjust these practices to fit your current schedule.
As you begin to weave Ayurveda into your daily routine, remember that building in new habits takes time. Try to add in one or two new practices and stick with them for a couple of weeks before adding in more. Taking things slow and steady, one day at a time will set you up for success to create lasting, healthy habits that will transform your life.
I’ve included directions here for two of my favourite practices, Abhyanga (self-massage) and a Pranayama (breath work) practice known as Nadi Shodhana. Give them a try and see how you feel!
Abhyanga self-massage instructions
You will need:
Place the container of oil in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Spread a towel out on the bathroom floor for you to stand on. This will prevent slipping and will catch any oil drips.
Starting at the crown of the head, pour about a tablespoon of oil onto your scalp and massage with a shampooing motion.
Gently massage your face, ears, and neck.
Massage in a circular motion on and around the shoulders and elbows, and use an up-and-down motion on the upper arms and forearms.
Continue massaging in large circles over the chest, stomach, and lower abdomen, reaching around as best you can to work the oil into your back.
Moving on to the legs, be sure to use a circular motion around the knees and ankles and an up-and-down motion on the upper and lower portion of the legs.
Lastly, massage your feet top and bottom, getting in between each toe.
Take a few moments to sit quietly with your eyes closed, breathing slowly and deeply, to allow the oil to penetrate further into your tissues.
When you are ready, have a short, warm shower and gently pat yourself dry with a clean towel.
This entire process should only take 5-10 minutes and is a wonderful way to begin winding down for bedtime.
Nadi Shodhana - Alternate Nostril Breath
Nadi Shodhana means ‘channel cleansing’, and is a gentle breath practice that is very calming to the nervous system. It is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, quieting the mind prior to meditation, or aiding in falling asleep.
Using your right hand to control the flow of breath through the nostrils, position your thumb over the right nostril, the first two fingers gently pressing between the eyebrows, and the ring finger over the left nostril, letting the pinky finger hang loosely.You will be pressing gently on the bottom of each nostril, and breathing softly making no noise.
To begin, sit quietly in a comfortable position, allowing the breath to flow naturally in and out of the body. On your next inhalation, inhale deeply, then gently close off the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left nostril. Breathe in through the left nostril, then close off the left nostril with your ring finger, release your thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, close it off with your thumb, release your finger and exhale through the left nostril.
Continue breathing in this pattern for a few breaths. As you get more comfortable with this practice you can work up to doing it for longer periods.
On your final exhale allow your right hand to drop to your side, close your eyes, and return to your regular breath. Sit in silence for a few moments before opening your eyes and re-joining the world.
Hi! I'm a Mama of 3, an Ayurveda Spa Specialist, Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Postpartum Facilitator, and Postpartum Doula. I am passionate about caring for birthers during the Sacred Window of postpartum, and educating others on how to care for the new families in their lives.