We don’t typically recommend making New Year’s resolutions, but pledging to make the Dinacharya part of your daily routine can transform your life in ways you never thought possible!
Many of us wake up already playing catch up with our day—scrolling our phones before we even get out of bed, grabbing a quick (and often unhealthy) breakfast while skimming through the news before heading to work. Evenings are spent in the company of Netflix and HBO, shoveling dinner absentmindedly. All of this leaving us with an overworked nervous system, tired eyes, and an awry sleep cycle. And this goes on for days turning to months and then years.
There are various things people do right after they get out of bed and before heading out for work. But there are certain practices mentioned in Ayurveda, one of the most ancient healing systems, set within a disciplined routine that will not only give you a roaring head start to your day, but will keep you energized, focused, and productive throughout. It is called Dinacharya—an ideal Ayurvedic daily routine.
Ayurveda lays down a holistic path for overall health and happiness. It considers mental, physical, emotional, spiritual aspects of our existence in their entirety to determine one’s overall state of health. And so, according to the Ayurvedic philosophy of healthy living, body and mind are closely intertwined—one cannot be well without the wellness of the other.
Ayurveda lays much emphasis on the lifestyle we must follow on a daily basis to stay in our best health. Dinacharya, the Sanskrit word used in Ayurvedic texts, refers to the recommended daily routine one is to follow, for a healthy and vivacious life. ‘Dina’ means ‘day’ and ‘charya’ is activity. Ayurveda offers a self-care routine that is conducive to your psychophysiological constitution, based on the time of the day and dominating dosha or bio energies.
Benefits of Dinacharya
- Helps maintain optimal wellness
- Supports healthy digestion and absorption
- Detoxifies the body at regular intervals
- Nourishes the body
- Helps maintain a harmonious body-mind relationship
- Allows all the systems in the body to function optimally
- Keeps the mind light, pleasant and happy
- Helps maintains the circadian rhythm
- Helps in balancing tridoshas
- Instills discipline
“Health is not mere absence of disease; Health is being established in the self. Health is the dynamic expression of life.” —Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living Founder
Let us dig a little deeper into the elements of Dinacharya.
As per the ancient texts, there are two cycles in a day connected to the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.) This is important to understand since activities that suit our body types must be aligned to the doshas that dominate at a given hour. For example, if you are going to sleep late when vata dosha is dominant, you may struggle to fall asleep.
The Sun Cycle
First cycle: Sunrise to Sunset (6:00 am–6:00 pm)
6:00–10:00 am Kapha dominates
10:00 am–2:00 pm Pitta dominates
2:00–6:00 pm Vata dominates
The Moon Cycle
Second cycle: Sunset to sunrise (6:00 pm–6:00 am)
6:00–10:00 pm Kapha
10:00 pm–2:00 am Pitta
2:00–6:00 am Vata
We are a part of nature and our mind-body complex is dominated by the tridoshas, bioenergies constituted by the qualities of the five elements of nature in varying combinations. Syncing up our daily routine with these dosha cycles will ensure we have the right balance of energy, vitality and good health.
Get a printable copy of the Dinacharya here.
The Recommended Dinacharya Schedule
Time to wake up
Ayurveda experts recommend waking up two hours before sunrise. This period is called Brahma Muhurat. This is the time when Vata energy (air and ether) is dominant. Aligning ourselves with nature at this time refreshes the body and mind instantly. The mind is fresh and calm during this time. It is ideal to meditate, do your morning prayers and enjoy your ideal me time when there is silence all around, and the beings in nature are just waking up.
Kick start the day by drinking some warm water. It supports a good and easy bowel movement. A well-operating excretory system enhances the digestive fire. Maintaining dental hygiene using herbal products is important for eliminating toxins that collect in the mouth overnight.
Washing the eyes, face; and cleaning the nostrils through the process of jal neti are important parts of the daily cleanse. Ayurvedic texts list different ways to do it based on each person’s constitution. Cleanses like jalneti open up the nasal channels, relieve sinuses and offer better eyesight. Avoid exposure to cool air right after jal neti and learn from an expert. Here’s everything you need to know about the virtues of Neti.
Cleansing and Scraping the Tongue
We all are used to brushing our teeth, but cleansing and scraping the ama deposits off the tongue is important, according to Ayurveda. Here’s an exhaustive list of the benefits of tongue scraping.
Abhyanga or Body Massage
A light self-massage with warm oil selected based on your body type or Prakriti is also recommended as part of dinacharya. You can consult an ayurvedic practitioner to understand your prakruti and understand which oils best suit your dosha-balancing needs.
A warm bath after a good bowel run is a great way to start the new day. Be sure to minimize using commercial personal care products loaded with toxic chemicals and pollutants.
Exercise and Breathwork
Exercising between 6:00–10:00 am enhances the quality of the day and your health. You can follow the sequence of yogasanas under the guidance of a trained expert or you can create a sequence for yourself that meets your physical goals.
Surya Namaskar or sun salutations make for a holistic sequence that you can include in your regime, to begin with. Yogasanas, followed by Pranayama or deep breathing practices is an ideal sequence for detoxifying and energizing the body and mind. Brisk walking too is recommended in this mix.
Meditating for 20 minutes in the morning especially after yoga asana and pranayama will complete the loop on maximizing your energy levels for the day, centering your heart and mind, and giving the most clear-headed start to your day. You can practice the Sahaj Samadhi technique, an effortless way of meditating for 20 minutes straight without your fidgety mind coming in your way.
Believe it or not, skipping breakfast is a key reason why many people gain weight. A wholesome, healthy, and warm breakfast is a must for the body to function well, and for the mind to get out of lethargy. It is also recommended to avoid too much sweet or fried food for breakfast. Fresh, light yet satiating breakfast is another key for you to have a productive day.
The ideal lunchtime is 12:00–1:00 pm, when the pitta energy which is responsible for digestion is high. Seasonal vegetables and wholesome meals that include all six tastes-sweet, acidic, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent-is recommended by ayurvedic experts during lunch. You can take a stroll post-lunch.
A very short nap after lunch or a round of yoga nidra is fine, but having a deep long sleep is not recommended. Sleeping after lunch can increase kapha leading to a dosha imbalance.
Relax and Meditate
Meditation and prayers in the evening are a key part of Dinacharya. Evening meditation helps us get rid of tiredness and impressions from the day. So you can start the following day on a fresh slate.
Around 7:00 pm is the ideal time to have dinner. It is a good idea to have a light dinner 2–3 hours before sleeping.
This may seem like a stretch, but time-tested wellness literature embodied in Ayurveda recommends that going to bed by 10:00 pm can help you have good quality sleep. This gives us enough time to rest. Involuntary body functions, reparation, and rejuvenation that happen on their own while we sleep can go on without our wakeful interference.
You can also have triphala with warm water to avoid constipation or other digestive problems the following day. Just massaging the soles of your feet with warm oil also helps to sleep better.
These are generic guidelines ideal for holistic living. The timing, intensity, how much should be done or what should be avoided will differ based on an individual’s body type as well as the doshas that need correction, which happens to be unique for each individual.
We recommend you consult a seasoned Ayurveda practitioner to get your personalized dinacharya report. Keep in mind that dinacharya also varies between seasons. The prescribed routine for each season is called Ritucharya. So for example, the dinacharya that is ideal for summer may need some changes during peak winter.