Ayurveda is the art of daily living in harmony with the laws of nature. Ayurveda is a practical, medical science, which promotes perfect health through prevention and cure health problems by recommending lifestyle changes. This knowledge of daily living was dicovered by sages through intensive meditation and passed on orally. These were compiled in the Vedic times more than 5,000 years ago and are followed even today in India and world wide.
Ayurveda, hygiene, lifestyle and diet are crucial to good health. To attain good health, Ayurveda prescribes the specific daily routine " dinacharya" and the seasonal regime "ritucharya". Before going any further, it is important to make clear what an Ayurvedic practitioner considers to be health. For healthy life, the lifestyle should also be considered along with the diet. We can control the diet to a considerable extent. But we cannot control much of the lifestyle. It does depend on others, but whatever lifestyle is under our control, if we try to control it properly, we can become more and more healthy. Ayurveda has given a deep thought to the daily routine.
Maintaining good health and treatment of disease are two sides of the same coin. The food, drugs and regimen that prescribe for both are similar. The components are the same: they are all found in nature. Equal importance is given to the kind of food to be taken as to the drugs prescribed. Each reinforces the other and both act in similar ways to maintain the equilibrium of the doshas in the body.
The daily regime or routine is called Dincharya in Sanskrit. According to Ayurveda to maintain a healthy and disease free life one should follow a daily routine or schedule. It is important to follow a daily regime in order to be optimally healthy. Everyday two cycles of change passes through us, each bringing a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha predominance.
In Sanskrit the daily routine is called the Dinacharya. Din means `day` and acharya means `to follow` or `close to`. To be close to the day in this respect actually means to merge your daily cycle with the natural cycle of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and the other planets in our Solar system. The reason for this is that your most healthy and happy state is your most natural state, and vices versa. Intrinsic to this natural state is the basic intelligence of everything from how a baby should take its first step to how the sperm should enter the egg to conceive the baby in the first place, to how a cell should remember when to live and when to die.
Dinacharya is one of the best things that you can do to stay in balance, prevent disease and treat almost any disease. The Ayurvedic Rishis considered daily routine to be a stronger healing force than any other curative medicine and so devoted initial chapters in their books to this.
Today`s society is so alienated from Nature. Who knows what day of the cycle the moon is in? To really heal you must return to balance and know your place in the Universe.
One way to describe the daily cycle is in terms of the doshas, Vata, the air element; Pitta, the fire element; and Kapha, the water element. Vata is dominant from 2 to 6 in the morning and afternoon. Kapha is dominant from 6 to 10 in the morning and evening, and Pitta is dominant during mid day and midnight. Keep in touch with these energies during the day and move with them, not against them.
From 2 until 6, or until dawn, the Vata element is dominant. Sometime during this period before dawn you should wake up. In Ayurveda the night is divided into 16 periods from sunset to sunrise. The ideal time to arise is during the 14th period which is about 2 hours before dawn, around 4:30 to 5. This is the time when there is the most sattva in the air. It is the most fresh and pure time of the day. Some exceptions to this rule of rising are the very young, the old, parents with small children, and people with fevers or diarrhea.
Take a moment to see your true nature. Remember what you are. Fall into That.
Take a short stroll outside and soak up the good vibes.
As soon as possible empty your colon and bladder. If you wait until later in the morning or during the day you are slowly poisoning yourself and creating an opportunity for chronic conditions to arise.
Clean the Senses
It is guaranteed that your view of the world and of yourself will change if you purify your senses everyday. Wash the eyes with rose water and Triphala to purify the sight. Wash your ears and apply a tiny amount of sesame or almond oil in them to purify your hearing. Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue with a tongue cleaner to purify your mouth and sense of taste.
You can monitor the condition of your body by observing the coating on your tongue every morning. Gargle with warm water or herbal tea or a quarter cup of sesame oil to purify your voice and strengthen your teeth. Finally do Jal neti and put a little oil in your nose to purify the sinuses and your sense of smell. The traditional Dinacharya also recommends that you inhale the smoke of medicinal herbs every morning to purify the mind, head, face, neck and lungs.
Abhyanga is the name for oil massage. The morning abhyanga is typically a self massage. It is one of the main ways that Ayurveda keeps us strong and prevents us from aging. A major part of aging is the drying out of tissue that results in slower transport of nutrients into the cell and body and toxic wastes out of the body. Oil massage removes this dryness, removes stagnated flows and organs, and nurtures your mind and your body. It also makes your skin look great if you use the right oil. More information on Ayurveda Aromatherapy Abhyanga & Massage Oils.
Vyayama is the name for physical exercise. This is usually yoga but it can be anything including a walk, tai chi, a swim or whatever. This early morning exercise removes stagnation in the body mind, strengthens the digestive fire, reduces fat and gives you an overall feeling of lightness and Joy as it fills your body with good Prana. It is not to be strenuous, no quarter mile sprints or racquetball, but more meditative and easy.
In fact, exercising at one fourth to one half of your capacity is recommended. You want long deep breaths to absorb the Prana, not short quick shallow breaths. Too much exercise will aggravate Vata and the blood and imbalances will follow. The exercise will also help the oil that you just put on soak deep into your body and nourish all your tissues.
After exercise bath to remove any excess oil and dirt. Both showers and bathtubs are recommended in the classics. Usually warm water baths are suggested, but care should be taken not to put very warm water on the neck and head, as this will throw you off balance. Bathing increases the digestive fire, especially if the water is a little cold. Put on clean clothing after the bath and apply essential oils as you wish.
Some always put a tilak on their forehead with sandalwood oil and use lavender instead of deodorant. This is also the time to put on your gems if you want. Gems and good clothes can increase intelligence and longevity, destroy inauspiciousness and attract good vibes. The point is that you finish the bath feeling and looking so great that you are ready to face even God. And indeed that is next.
For a few minutes to an hour sit down and see who you really are, focus on focus, put your attention on Awareness. See and Be only Consciousness. This is the most important aspect of Dinacharya. The whole day, indeed the whole world, revolves around this. Simply be quiet. Sit in Peace as Peace for just a little while.
Take a light breakfast. Some like to drink a thick fruit-spirulina-herb-bee pollen-etc drink for breakfast. Western science has studied the aging process for some time and has come up with only one practice that is definitely anti-aging. This is to minimize calories while maximizing nutrients. Think of this when you are deciding what to eat and fill your mind with gratitude and Love for your food as you eat. Also, you may think that nobody does fire ceremonies anymore, but according to Ayurveda every time you eat you are offering your food to the fire of digestion so that this fire can carry the offering to the gods, and that is you.
Do what you do from now until noon.
O.K. You got up six or seven hours ago; you ate only a light breakfast. Now you are really hungry. This is great. If you want to really digest your food well it is best to put it on a hot fire and hunger indicates that you have one ready to go. Eating food before the previous meal is digested is considered one of the main causes of disease. It is also one of the hardest habits to get out of in our society where there is so much food everywhere. This is the main meal of the day so eat a healthy nutritious meal that has moderate calories. After the meal it is good to take a little walk, a couple hundred steps only, to help the food digest.
Do what you do from now until supper
Sundown is a special time of balance between day and night. In this balance it is easier for your mind to stop long enough so that you can see your Self. This is the time for evening prayers and meditations in many cultures around the world.
Eat around 6 to 7. This meal should be lighter than lunch. In fact, people doing spiritual practices often skip it entirely so that their early morning practices are crystal clear instead of having their awareness dulled and loaded down because dinner is still being processed. After dinner take a Peaceful walk with family and friends.
From dinner to bedtime just take it easy. Spend time with family, read, and relax.
Around 10 go to sleep so that you can get 6 to 7 hours of sleep before 4:30 am. A good practice is to massage the soles of your feet with a calming oil before going to bed. This will calm your system and promote well being. And remember to take your Triphala before sleep. It is also a good time to take your calming calcium citrate for strong bones and nerves. In the evening is the time to make Love with your Beloved, in a beautiful nurturing uplifting merging. Men should try not to ejaculate, as this loss of sperm means a loss of vital energy in the form of Ojas.
Ritu Charya (Seasonal Regimen)
This word is the combination of two words i.e. Ritu meaning seasons and `Charya meaning routine`, thus giving the complete term the meaning of the routine that is to be followed in different seasons.
Following is the importance of Ritucharya
It maintains the climatic homologation in form of dosh samya (equilibrium) in different seasons to promote swassthvrutha (preventive & social medicine) on which ayurveda has laid a great stress since prevention is better than cure.
Hemant (winter season)
This is the season of cold, where the atmosphere temperature drops down, the environment becomes chilly and this leads to the disequilibrium of vata dosha and kapha sanchay. In the winter season Vayu is accentuated and needs to be satisfied by a heavy diet (snigdha, Madhura & lavanrasa). The diet in hemant must include wheat, gram, milk & milk products, jaggery, cane sugar, figs, carrots, tomatoes, dates to prevent the disequilibrium of vata dosha. Til oil massage is suggested to prevent disequilibrium of vata dosha and excess sanchay of kapha. Daily exercises or yoga is beneficial. To avoid cold woolen clothes must be worn and married couple should use aphrodisiacs.
Vasant (spring season)
The sanchit kapha is accentuated in this season by the sun rays thus the susceptibility of kapha Roga (e.g. cough, cold, tonsillitis etc) increases and thus reduces the Agni (bio- transformation). In ayurveda vaman (vomiting) karma is also advocated i.e. one of the pancha karmas to get rid of excess kapha sanchay and hence kapha Roga. Sleeping during the day and use of Madhura, Alma, and lavan is contraindicated as these accentuate the kapha dosha. Instead, the use of honey and or dry ginger is indicated.
Grishma (summer season)
Heat of the sun reduces the moisture in the atmosphere and thus increases the ruksh guna of vata dosha, which causes sanchay of vata dosha. By this way Ahaar and vihar that accentuate its sanchay can be avoided. These examples are that of the use of katu tikta kashya Rasa, exercises, sexual intercourse, etc. it is advisable not to take honey and intake of liquids should be increased to prevent dehydration due to excessive sweating. Use of cotton clothes is beneficial.
Varsha (rainy season)
In this season the atmosphere is although cool due to rainfall but the humidity increases and this causes vata dosha prakopa. In this season ayurveda insists on avoiding Ahaar & vihar, which attribute to prakopa. Drinking of boiled water (shrut, sheeta jal) is advisable. Use of rittu hari taki as a rasayan i.e. hari taki is suggested with different anupanas in different seasons.
Pitta prakopa is caused due to the heat of sun hence ahar vihar which attribute to its prakopa should be avoided.
The year according to Ayurveda is divided into two kaals
- Aadaan kaal (Uttarayan) (Northeren Solastice)
- Visarga kaal (Dakshinayaan) (Southeren Solastice).
This division is done according to the position of the sun. Aadaan means taking away and visarga means giving. In aadan kaal, the sun and wind are powerful. The sun takes away the strength of the people and the cooling qualities of the earth. It is the debialiting period. Strength is weakened . In Visarga kaal, the sun releases the strength to the people. The moon is more powerful, the earth becomes cooled due to the clouds, rain and cold wind.
A year consists of six ritus (seasons). Each ritu is two masas (months) long. Three ritus (one semester) form a kaal.
The six ritus and their properties can be summarized in the following table
||Properties of the season
|Aadaan (Northeren Solastice)
||Magha and Phalguna
(mid January to mid march)
|Cold and dewy season |
||Chaitra and Baisakh
(mid March to mid May)
||Jyeshtha and Aashadha
(mid May to mid July)
|Summer season |
|Visarga (Southern Solastice)
||Shravan and Bhadrapada
(mid July to mid September)
|Rainy season |
||Aashvin and Kartika
(mid September to mid November)
|Autumn season |
||Margshirsha and Pausha
(mid November to mid January)
|Winter season |
Seasons and Tastes
The following table summarizes the tastes which are more powerful and hence can be included in the diet in each of the six seasons.
||Powerful Taste |
||Cold and dewy season
||Tikta (bitter) |
|| Winter season
Hemanta Ritu (Winter Season)Shishira Ritu (Cold and Dewy Season
- Sweet,sour and salt taste
food can be taken. In this season the digestive activity becomes more powerful. Increased vata gets obstructed from spreading out due to cold atmosphere outside which can digest the tissues. More intake of sweet, sour and salt helps reducing the vata.
- Wine prepared from jaggery (molasses) can be taken.
- Wheat/gram flour products, milk products, sugarcane products and corn/edible oils can be taken as a part of food.
- Massage with oil.
- Ubvartan with fine paste/powder of kumkum (kesar).
- Exercise (vyama).
- Clothing-leather, silk and wool.
- Exposure to sunlight and fire to keep yourself warm.
|Grishma Ritu (Summer Season) |
In this season, Sunrays become powerful. Kapha decreases vata increases day by day.
- Sweet, light, fatty and liquid food can be taken.
- Wine should not be taken as it can cause burning sensation and even debility. If neccesary take in very little quantity.
- Boiled rice with meat, cornflour, curd (yoghurt) can be taken in food.
- Drink very cold water. Panak Panchsara (syrup prepared with draksha (sugarcane), madhuka, date, kashmarya and parshuka fruits all in equal quantity cold with cardamom powder.
- Anoint body with chandan paste and take bath with cold water.
- Stay in cool places.
- Wear light dresses.
|Varsha Ritu (Rainy Season) |
The agni (digestive activity) weakens further and gets vitiated by doshas.Hence all methods to mitigate doshas and measures to enhance digestive activity can be adopted.
- Easily digestible food to be taken.
- Pulses, meat juice, soups, old grains and mastu (thin water of yoghurt ) can be taken in food.
- Panchkarma can be done.
- Perfumes can be used.
- Avoid sleeping at daytime, exertion and too much exposure to sunlight.
|Sharat Ritu (Autumn Season) |
Sudden exposed to sunlight after cold season aggravates pita.
- Bitter, astringent and sweet taste can be included in food. Take easily digestible food like rice, green gram, aamla, honey and sugar.
- Avoid heavy food, curd, oil, strong liquors.
- Udvartan with chandan.
- Bath with warm water.
- Pearls give soothing effect from aggravated pita.