Daily Regime (Dinacharya)
By Shanti Gowans
The Vedic disciplines of Ayurveda (which means the science of life) and Yoga (which means unity), have served humanity for thousands of years.
Preserving the health of a healthy individual and treating the diseased has been the aim of Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic theory is both organic and sophisticated. It unpacks the energetic perspective of what causes imbalances and engenders disease.
Recognising the relationship of those habits which court disease is only half of the equation. Updating habits in real time is the crux and strategy of habit evolution.
According to Ayurveda, certain rituals help us maintain high energy levels and keep the body cleansed.
Dinacharya in Ayurveda plays an important role – dina means ‘day’ and charya means ‘to follow a routine.’ By combining this principle of daily routine with mindful food choices, we can improve the health of hair, skin and nails to radiate our natural outer beauty from within. In Ayurveda, the actions in a healthy daily routine, dinacaryā, are heavily weighted towards the morning cleanse and, among other things, involve giving attention to each of the five sense organs, namely, the nostrils, the tongue, the eyes, the ears and the skin. There are mysterious and scientific reasons for this. For starters, from a certain perspective, what we perceive through our senses adds up to what we know. Therefore, it behooves us to both cleanse our sense organs and refine our ability to sense.
Circadian Rhythms are daily cycles of biological activity based on a 24-hour period and influenced by regular variations in the environment, such as the alternation of night and day.
Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature, and other important bodily functions. They have been linked to various sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder.
The importance of maintaining your circadian rhythms is well indicated by facts such as World Health Organisation’s recognition of night shifts as a possible cause of cancer. Research also shows how the times at which we eat contribute to the disruption of our circadian rhythms.
If we pay attention to our cycles then we see bio rhythms influence who we are. If we are in alignment with the rhythms then we experience life more deeply and with attunement. If we ignore them, we are out of step. So much of health arises from living in rhythm.
What would your life be like if you were in rhythm?
The reality is that the more we are in rhythm, the more we are in alignment, the more energy passes through us, the more vibrant, joyful, connected, vibrant and abundant we feel.
Long before any of these studies were conducted and discoveries were made, ancient sciences talked about these rhythms, about balance and synchronicity with nature, about being in alignment with oneself.
Through disciplined sleep routines, prescribed eating, cleansing, self-care practices and recommended exercise, Ayurveda and Yoga provide you with several tools to balance and restore your circadian rhythms.
The sister sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda delved into these unseen, intangible territories which open into a far “up-levelled” experience of wellbeing, and yet, they were always rooted in the very physical, daily, and practical aspects of life.
Align your sleep schedule with the Ayurvedic clock.
Wake an hour and a half before sunrise, between 4-6am, and go to bed by 10pm.
Conforming with the Ayurvedic clock can be challenging at first, especially if you are required to work later in the night. Just do the best you can, and allow yourself to ease into a new schedule. If you tend to go to bed between 12-1am, try 11:30pm, 11pm, and then 10:30pm over the duration of a few weeks or months.
The results will be amazing. You may be surprised to discover how easily the body will adjust to a new schedule once a pattern is repeated enough times, and you may be equally surprised by how much better you feel.
Your body is like a machine with its activities scheduled directly, and influenced by sunlight. However, people are able to accomplish more work late at night because of artificial lighting and flexible working hours. Unfortunately, this compromises the body’s maintenance routine and impacts your ability to properly digest food, repair cells, generate new ones and clear out toxins. The liver is most active between 10pm and 2am and requires us to be in a sleep state for optimal functioning.
Eat according to the Ayurvedic clock.
In Ayurveda, the digestive force is known as Agni. THis digestive fire is directly aligned with the sun’s daily course.
Ideally true hunger will arise between 6-8am, 10am-2pm and 5-8pm, though you may need to introduce these new mealtimes first in order to balance Agni such that hunger aligns with the universe’s clock. When Agni is weak, a person will feel hungry less frequently, or may experience hunger at less opportune times for digestion, such as late at night when the liver’s fire ignites. This is often confused as ‘time to eat’ when we are awake, instead of ‘time to detox,’ which is what should be happening.
The Ayurvedic clock is naturally expressed by your body’s needs when you create space for it with your sleeping and eating routines. Once aligned with this clock, you will find that any other schedule feels unnatural.
Compose your meals Ayurvedically
Every individual’s constitution is different when it comes to specific food choices, however, certain rules apply to everybody. Composing your meals wisely throughout the day ensures that you receive the best possible nourishment, digest food properly and fuel yourself with energy when it is most needed.
Whole, organic foods are recommended for the high quality nutrients they contain, and cooked foods are recommended for ease of digestion.
Snacking is generally ill-advised. Meals should be nutritionally dense and sized to fuel you to the next one; however, you should never ignore true hunger. When true hunger arises in-between meals, snack wisely: try dates, raisins, nuts or seeds.
Daily self massage
A regular practice of self-abhyanga, or oil massage, in conjunction with at least one monthly synchronised abhyanga therapy by a qualified Panchakarma Practitioner is recommended to nourish the skin, firm the muscles, calm the nerves, improve circulation and assist in the elimination of toxins.