What's Your Daytime Dinacharya?

ayurveda brain health healthy eating healthy living healthy recipes meditation mindful movement morning practice real food resilience sleep strength training stress-free Nov 26, 2022

Last week I introduced you to your Dinacharya, a.k.a. your optimal daily routine.  The idea is to align your habits and practices to the Rhythms of Nature, as this will promote health and help reduce what may be harmful.

And as I said last week, most lists of daily habits start with the morning routine, but I like to begin “the night before” as I have found that that’s where we can set ourselves up for a better day “tomorrow.”

Did you miss Part 1?  Check it out HERE.

So what about your Daytime Routine?

What happens after that rejuvenating sleep that you’ve given yourself by following your thoughtful bedtime routine?

The practices suggested are not in a specific order, although it is good to start with meditation, as it will support you in sustaining everything else!  They should be integrated in the order that seems right for you, in other words, choose the ones that resonate with you for now.  What is most important is to add in a few practices gradually, incorporating those that will make the greatest impact on your life.

Pressed for time?  No need to do them all–again, begin slowly and build up to what makes sense for you, and with the time you have available on any given day.

The ideal waking time is around 6 am, or approximately the time of the sunrise.  Many people will wake up during Vata time (2 - 6 am) feeling refreshed. Vata time is the ideal time not only to be creative, but also to perform the morning routine to reap the greatest benefits from the prana of a new day.

Awaken without an alarm clock, if possible, since alarm clocks can be a jarring way to wake up.  Getting up early ensures that you will benefit from the qualities of lightness and activity that are present in the environment in the early morning, at the end of Vata time.

Do you ever notice that if you wake up later, during Kapha time (6 to 10 am), you may feel more sluggish and have difficulty getting going?

Ideally, you will empty your bowels and bladder right away.  You may also want to drink a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon as this signals your body to eliminate toxins by stimulating the gastro-intestinal reflex.  And you may find it works best to do this before meditation so your body will be relaxed and comfortable for meditation.

Many meditators find that the early morning is a time that’s conducive to a deep meditation, as the morning coincides with the body’s quieter rhythms.  As you develop a morning meditation routine, you will find it gives you the brightness and alertness to enjoy the rest of your day.

Choose meditation and pranayama techniques that are comfortable for you.  The practice of pranayama will activate the body’s relaxation response and engage its natural self-repair and healing mechanisms. Coherence breathing (controlling the breath) and nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) are recommended.

Next, perform oil pulling, an Ayurvedic practice that removes the unhealthy bacteria and other toxins that accumulate in your mouth, thereby reducing plaque and inflammation. Oil pulling promotes healthy gums and teeth, helps eliminate bad breath, and purifies the taste buds, which enhances your enjoyment of food!  All this without the nasty chemicals found in conventional mouth washes.

Brush and floss your teeth. Then clean your tongue with a tongue cleaner.

Cleanse and nourish your nasal passages using a neti pot and nasya. This assists in removing debris from the nasal passages.

Enjoy some exercise, outdoors if possible, to get your energy flowing – see more on this below!

Massage your body with oil. The Ayurvedic Abhyanga, or oil massage, is an important aspect of the daily routine that provides a stabilizing influence all day long. Massage nourishes the tissues, stimulates the skin’s pharmacy, improves circulation, increases alertness, assists in detoxification, and improves immunity.

Bathe or take a shower.

Eat breakfast with awareness, but only if you are hungry. Also, remember to eat according to your hunger level.

And you’re ready to go on to the rest of your morning activities!

Mid-day Routine

Try to eat lunch between noon and 1 pm during the Pitta hours or at least aim for the hours between 10 am - 2 pm.  Your noon meal should be the largest of the day, as this is the time of day when your digestive powers are the strongest.

Sit quietly for five minutes after eating.  Then walk for five to fifteen minutes to aid digestion.

Go on with your afternoon activities. This is Vata time after 2 pm, which is a time for creativity!

And try this:  End your “workday” with a late afternoon meditation and pranayama practice.  Meditating in the late afternoon enhances your body’s self-repair mechanisms, releases any stress you have experienced during the day, and helps you enjoy a relaxing evening and a good night’s sleep.  And pranayama (breathwork) practices activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which governs the rest-and-digest response, also known as the relaxation response. 

Mindful Movement

And what is it about movement that is so important?

Regular exercise is essential for physical health and psychological well-being. We are seeing a growing epidemic of obesity in the West that is now affecting our children. Humans are more sedentary than at any other time in recorded history. As a result, we suffer increased risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, and other diseases. 

An important part of a healthy daily routine is mindful movement, which is exercise where we are present and aware of the sensations and movements of our bodies.  A complete practice of mindful movement includes these three elements, as they make up the backbone of a well-rounded fitness routine that can keep you healthy and strong throughout your life. 

  • Cardiovascular/aerobic activity – detoxifies the body, strengthens the heart, boosts mood, and increases stamina 
  • Strength training – builds muscle mass and protects bone health 
  • Flexibility training – beneficial for joint mobility, calming the nervous system, and integrating the mind/body system 

A yoga practice can easily provide strength training and flexibility training, though of course you can choose other kinds of strength training and flexibility exercises.  While these two activities seem dissimilar—in one you’re cultivating physical and mental stillness, and in the other you’re in a state of heightened physical and mental activity—it’s possible to merge awareness and physical exercise together as one. This allows you to experience the present moment during your physical activity. 

It’s also important to engage in some form of cardiovascular activity to increase the heart rate and respiration rate while using the large muscle groups. You should be working at a level intense enough to generate a thin layer of perspiration and to make normal conversation difficult but not impossible. 

When choosing a form of mindful exercise, it’s important to consider your primary dosha, as well as any dosha imbalances you are currently experiencing. 

  • To balance Vata, choose exercises that are grounding and slow-moving, such as yoga, tai chi, walking, short hikes, and light bicycling. 
  • To balance Pitta, choose medium-paced exercises, including swimming, skiing, biking, brisk walking or jogging, and outdoor activities. 
  • To balance Kapha, get your blood flowing and energy moving with exercises such as brisk walking or running, aerobics, dancing, rowing, vigorous yoga, and weight training. 

However, adding to any imbalance will only increase that imbalance. For example: 

  • If a Vata type regularly engages in very brisk exercises, then that exercise will increase the activity within the already active Vata body/mind. 
  • If a predominantly Pitta type engages only in competitive sports, then Pitta’s fire will likely increase. 
  • If a Kapha engages only in slow-moving exercises like tai chi, then that activity will make the person feel slower and heavier. 

Keep in mind that pranayama is a form of mindful movement because when you’re breathing, prana, the vital life force, circulates through the energy channels of the body. You can include regular pranayama practices to enhance the flow of prana and experience other benefits for mind-body health. 

The regular practice of meditation and yoga is the foundation for cultivating and experiencing the restful awareness response, an expanded state in which you are calm and rested yet also mentally alert. It’s this state of heightened awareness that allows your focus to be directed internally rather than externally. 

Try this Home Practice this week!  

  • For the next day or two, simply notice your current practices: are you meditating? Eating your largest meal around noon? What are your current healthy (or unhealthy) practices?
  • Take note of how you feel for the rest of the day (energized? ready for the day – or not?)
  • In other words, how well did your morning and midday routines set you up for the rest of the day?

  • Then, decide which new habit or two you'd like to practice for the rest of the week.

  • Again take note of how you feel for the rest of the day (energized? ready for the day?)

  • Know that it may take longer than a few days to change these well established routines, so do your best to keep them going – perhaps until they become habitual and you look forward to your stress-free evenings and earlier bedtime!

  • And remember, no judgment!

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