A balanced lifestyle creates circadian rhythms of nature. Our fast-paced life keeps us disconnected with our own self and the nature. Our constant access to outside world through electronic devices, social media etc. have turned us into robots, sucking our peace and calm. Waking up too early, sleeping too late, irregular eating, untimely bowel movements, stress are a few of the habits that have created imbalances in our mind and body. Through this ancient practice of Dinacharya we can deepen our roots back to nature and re-establish a connection with ourselves while still enjoying comforts and pleasures of the 21st century.
Following this daily routine practices can help us with good health and balanced lifestyle.
- Wake-up early in the morning
Ancient sages suggest that a healthy person should wake up during the Brahma Muhurta to protect his life. Brahma muhurta is the last three hours of the night (from 3 am to 5.30 am). Brahma muhurta is the time when there is natural production of melatonin (secretion of pineal gland). You want to make use of this. It is the time when you create yourself the way you want yourself to be.
- Cleaning Teeth and Tongue
Cleaning the teeth with astringent, pungent and bitter toothpaste helps kill the harmful bacteria in the mouth. Tongue scraping should be done gently from back to front in 7-14 strokes. The scraping of tongue removes unwanted toxins and residue off of the tongue. It also stimulates the internal organs and aids digestion. Stainless steel scraper is suitable for all body types.One less common practice is to massage the gums. Massaging the gums with sesame or mustard oil reduces the oral count of bacterias responsible for tooth decay and plaque.
- Oil Pulling or Gandusha
Oil pulling known as Kavala graha in Sanskrit is a ritual of pulling or swishing sesame oil in the mouth for four to five minutes twice daily. Warm sesame oil is wonderful oil that pulls toxins from the body as it is antibacterial and highly nourishing. Coconut oil can also be used for oil pulling as coconut oil is easily accessible, has a pleasant taste and has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Drink Warm water to clear bowel movement
Drink a glass of warm water in the morning preferably from a copper vessel. This helps to clear GI tract, the kidneys and stimulate mass peristalsis. Adding lemon to the warm water can help you with weight loss and flushes out liver, improves skin complexion.
Chewing in the morning stimulates the liver and stomach and improves the digestive fire. Chewing one to two teaspoons of white sesame seeds strengthens the teeth and helps with receding gums. Alternatively, one can also chew fresh or dried coconut meat.
- Nasya (Nasal Drops)
Nasal passage is the door to the prana, the life force and is the shortest route to the brain. Keeping this vital passageway clean promotes healthy and clear mind and body. Nasya means nasal therapy in Ayurveda. Putting warm ghee or oil into each nostril every morning helps to lubricate the nose, clean sinuses, enhance voice and vision. To do Nasya, lie down on your back with a pillow under the neck so the neck tilts backward, then add 3 to 5 drops of ghee or oil.
For Vata constitution: sesame oil or ghee
For Pitta constitution: sunflower or coconut oil
For Kapha constitution: vacha or mustard oil
Some contraindications for Nasya include:
- Young kids
- Pregnancy or menstruation
- An hour before and after bathing
- Immediately after workout
- Full stomach
- Vomit or diarrhea
- Fever, hypoglycemia and dehydration
- Abhyanga and Shower
Ayurvedic massage also known as Abhyanga improves circulation, keeps skin soft and free from wrinkles. Abhyanga is a Sanskrit word which is made of two words, abhy means “to rub” and “anga” means limbs. Oil massaging your limbs and head with a mindful, loving touch has variety of benefits.
- Hydrates the skin and improves blood circulation
- Strengthens tissues or dhatus of the body
- Aids sound sleep
- Decreases the effects of aging and wrinkles
- Detoxifies lymphatic system
- Stimulates internal organs
- Prevents headache, baldness, graying and receding hairline
For Vata: Use sesame or almond oil
For Pitta: Use coconut or sunflower oil
For Kapha: Use mustard or corn oil
- Exercise, Yoga and Pranayama and Meditation
Ayurveda recommends practicing 10-20 mins of exercise whether it is yoga asanas or any form of workout. Exercise helps cultivate balance, improves flexibility and builds strength in overall musculoskeletal system and nervous system.
Pranayama is Sanskrit name for breathing exercises. Prana means “life force” and yama means “to control”. Pranayama when practiced daily awakens the mind, increases energy and maintains the balance. There are many pranayama exercises to choose from and are recommended according to one’s body constitution and health condition.
Meditation brings a state of awareness and is a profound practice for anyone who would like to enjoy the multitude of benefits which include:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Helps with depression and promotes positivity
- Increases self-awareness
- Improves memory and cognition
- Improves sleep
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Increases mental discipline
- And many more….
- Regular mealtime
Ayurveda recommends eating meal at the proper time of the day. Irregular meals can deplete your digestive fire creating toxins in GI tract. Most of the diseases begins with improper digestion of food. A meal rich in wholesome and fresh food that are cooked and spiced according to one’s constitution prevent diseases and promotes health and wellness.
Breakfast is an important meal to start the day with. Breakfast should be light and eaten according to one’s constitution and between 6am-10 am (Kapha energy is active during this time).
Lunch should be the largest meal of the day as sun’s energy and digestive fire is most active during this time, preferably around noon. Pitta energy (10 am- 2 pm) is active and Agni is strongest to properly digest and assimilate food.
Dinner is eaten during Vata time of the day (2pm-6pm). It should be light and easily digestible. Since our focus and attention declines during this time, avoid eating sugary snack or caffeine as it can push Vata dosha out of balance.
Sound Sleep is one of the Three pillars of Life in Ayurvedic medicine. Our bodies undergo repair mechanism when we sleep at night. As our minds are inactive during sleep, the body focus on metabolizing, regenerating and digesting processes. The tissues go through the healing process and our emotions have an opportunity to release stress.
The best time to sleep is between 10 pm to 11 pm. It is very important that we avoid watching television, our cellphones etc. before sleep. The pineal gland produces melatonin, a serotonin derived hormone which prepares our body to sleep. If mind becomes active, then pineal gland is unable to produce an appropriate amount of melatonin and it makes harder to fall asleep.
A glass of warm milk with a pinch of saffron and cardamom helps us sleep better.