4 routines to live in harmony with your circadian rhythm
The concept of Ayurveda can be applied as a lifestyle, a way of living with and in tune with nature. We are part of it. We are not seperate from it. The ultimate goal is to establish the right rhythm in life. And in my world it is not a ”one size fits all” approach. Each individual has its unique DNA, childhood and life experiences, habits and traumas. A person should be seen as an individual and his or her external environment should be taken into consideration. With external factors I mean family and workplace situation, diet, social environment, seasonal changes and if he or she lives in the northern or southern hemisphere. To maintain harmony and consistency can be achieved by remaining flexible to respond to daily challenges. Everything we do is a choice. You choose to eat and do certain things.
IT IS YOUR CHOICE!
What you do every day makes for who you are and who you want to be. Somewhere there we can get lost and that is when we don´t feel very good, we feel out of balance and maybe even tired. Remember, you control your own karma! If you live creatively you truely can be healthy and happy. Rest and pause when appropriate. Take action when necessary. One’s wellbeing reflects the inner state of health. Choosing a balanced lifestyle by following daily routines brings discipline and helps maintain integrity of the dosha and good health. And what does that mean? Routines should be personalized to dosha imbalance and towards the season. If you have a lot of Ama (undigested food or thoughts) in your body you need to take care of that first. You should find a qualified Ayurvedic Health practitioner in your area. I do online consultations as well. Book your free introduction here. Here some general advice how you can tune-in with your natural cycle:
A morning routine, also called ”dinacharya” prepares you for the day and starts the elimination process. Dinacharya can include tongue scraping, oil pulling and/or self-massage. It can be a daily short yoga or meditation practise. You can read more specific details about morning routine in my blog post ”Daily routine: Tongue scraper to get rid of accumulated toxins”.
The day of time you eat your meals is the same for all three doshas. Kapha can skip breakfast while Vata and Pitta people should follow ”a three times a day” schedule without snacking. I know it is difficult. I am still working on that. Don’t beat yourself up if you snack. If you do snack ENJOY it with all your senses. Just don’t let it go out of control. Breakfast should be eaten early morning before 9am, lunch between 11am and 2pm and dinner preferably before 6pm. In modern society and with the working hours we have if will be more realistic to say that we eat between 7 to 8 pm or even later. It is not recommended. I can speak out of experience that it is harer to fall asleep as the body will take a couple of hours to digest. So eating late probably means going to bed later than 10pm. That would be Pitta time and the mind starts getting more active. Eating your meals at around the same time of day is very helful to avoid blood sugar imbalances. It is vital for people suffering of a metabolic syndrome like diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) or obesity. It is also important not to overeat and what you eat. Overeating will create Ama. And with regular meals you should go to the toilet at least once a day, preferably in the morning before eating again. That is actually normal. The body should ”detox” and eliminate regularly. To empty your bowls only once ot twice a week is NOT normal. You accumulate a lot of Ama and toxins in your body.
Combining raw food with cooked food and old food with fresh food is not very good for a smooth digestion. You should not drink too much liquid during a meal either in order not to delute the food too much. It will dilute pancreatic enzymes and make them insufficient workers. The best thing to do is: NOT TO STRESS through a meal! Sit down, take a moment to relax before each meal, maybe a couple of deep breathes. Then chew thoroughly before swallowing. For me the hardest thing to do and I had to learn how to eat again. After I learned that I realized by bloating and intenstinal problems started here. This was one of the main reasons for me that my digestion did not work for years and years. And I started to remember that when I was a teenager I used to nealy suffocate from eating. My food got stucked in my troat a lot of times and I could just not find out the reason. It was because I never chewed my food properly and that has accompanied my throughout my adult life. The change does not happend over night. I need to constantly remind myself about it.
If you experience emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress you should avoid fasting or skipping meals as well. If you are under a lot of stress you need eat nutrient-dense food, especially proteins. Fasting will physically stress your body even more. As a result craving for bad foods like bad carbs (white food item like bread, pasta and sugar) will increase.
Having a regular bedtime will regulate your sleep-wake cycle and benefit your circadian rythm. It is orchestrated by different hormones and neurotransmitters. It is influenced by stress and sunlight you expose yourself to during the day. Waking up and going to bed at the same time is a useful routine to balance your hormonal cycle (wake-sleep cycle). This is especially important when you are stressed or have sleeping problems in general. In ayurveda and functional medicine it is recommended to go to bed before 10pm. How many hours of sleep is healthy? The answer is easy: If you only sleep 5 hours a night and wake up exhaused and tired, these 5 hours are not enough. If you wake up refreshed and full of energy it is enough. If you sleep more than 8 hours and feel lethargic and heavy, it is too much. My answer is: It really depends. You can influence your sleep-wake cycle with a structured evening routine: You could meditate or some relaxing yin yoga or gentle yoga. You can apply calming and relaxing essential oils like lavender on your pillow or on the side of your neck. You can drink calming herbal tea. Allow 3-4 hours between dinner and sleep, time needed for proper digestion. Avoid stimulating foods like alcohol, cheese and chocolate. A glass of warm milk with calming herbs like white poppy seeds, cardamom and ghi can calm the mind. Try to avoid blue light, meaning avoid computer work or sitting with your mobile phone for hours before sleeping. Blue light will keep you awake. The constant information flow itself can disturb your mind. Even if you are not tired, go to bed at around 9.30pm to start the process. The body will get used to it after a while.
In the western world it is normal to exercise after work, meaning before 8am and after 6pm. When could you probably exercise otherwise? Best time for exercising is the morning, kapha time, or around lunchtime if your Agni, digestion, is strong. That will give you energy for the day. How much and what to do is also different depending on your dosha. Vata-type people should do moderate excercise in moderate intensity. A pitta-type person should avoid vigorous exercise like HIIT and do more relaxing activities like gentle yoga or stretching or meditation. Pitta-type people are normally very stressed and they need relaxation even if that is not exactly what they like. Kaph- type people are the only one’s that should do vigorous exercise like running, spinning or power yoga where they sweat and the heart rate goes up. They need more activity and stimulation.
I hope you got interested in explore that aspect of Ayurveda. The above might be new information for you or you already knew all of that. However, these areas have been explored by experts and you will find a fair amount of research about it in the world wide web. Doctors and health professionals have been publishing books about it. I did not make all of it up. You don’t have to try everything at once. Try to do one thing at a time. See if it works for you and if it does not work for you it does not serve you. Move on to the next thing. Remember: is not a ”one size fits all” approach! With these words I hope I got you curious to read more about it and to be adventurous and creative. Try out new things or stick to your routine you already have.