Our everyday activities have a direct influence on our health. Dinacharya is the Sanskrit word for “daily routine.” Dina means “day” and charya means “moving” or “following,” so the phrase translates as “following the day.”
Flowing with the natural rhythms and cycles of the sun, moon, and earth, and understanding their fluctuations bring us toward our healthiest, happiest and most natural state. A daily routine is not meant to be a monotonous habit or rigid restriction, but an essential and enjoyable part of your life that brings a deeper sense of health.
Dinacharya helps to keep stress at bay, maximize immunity, keep digestion strong, and increase resistance to disease.
In Ayurveda, great emphasis is placed on how your day begins because it sets the tone for what follows. Dinacharya follows the rhythms of the doshas that are naturally active at different times of the day. Vata governs the time between two and six o’clock (a.m. and p.m.), Pitta governs the time between ten and two o’clock (a.m. and p.m.), and Kapha governs the time between six and ten o’clock (a.m. and p.m.). Each of the general guidelines that follow is intended to balance the dosha most easily aggravated at that time of day.
All doshic types will want to follow these general guidelines, which can and will need to be modified. These guidelines are meant to be just that: guidelines. You do not need to follow every recommendation, just find ones that work best for you. Change a few things at a time and notice how you feel, and then gradually incorporate what works into your daily rhythms. If changes are adopted slowly, over time their benefits will be sustained. After a while, these activities will become second nature as you move into a life of more harmony and balance. These Ayurvedic self-care rituals can encourage stability in body, mind, and spirit, especially when yoga, mantra, and meditation are emphasized.
General Guidelines for All Doshic Types
- Wake with the sun.
- Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder and colon.
- Scrape your tongue, brush your teeth, and gargle with salt water.
- Rinse your nostrils with a neti pot.
- Drink a glass of room temperature or warm water.
- Do self-massage and bathe.
- Perform some kind of spiritual practice (asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, prayer) or physical exercise.
- Eat breakfast in a calm, relaxed setting.
- Work, study, or perform other responsibilities.
- Eat lunch in a calm, relaxed setting.
- Continue work or other duties from the morning.
- Perform some kind of spiritual practice (asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting, prayer) or exercise.
- Eat dinner in a calm, relaxed setting.
- Spend time with family or friends, relax, or read.
- Go to sleep before 10 p.m.
Ayurvedic Daily rhythms for Each Dosha
When you have an understanding of your Ayurvedic doshic constitution, you can take steps every day to follow a lifestyle that is in harmony with both your innate nature and the natural world.
Th e main goals for Vata types are to maintain regular, consistent routines for meal times, sleep, and work, with plenty of time for resting and nourishing the body and mind. Vata types should create schedules that allow for some flexibility to ebb and flow with their erratic nature.
It is important to leave time to rest as much as possible after intense periods of work, study, or other challenging endeavors. Vata types benefit from making every effort to stay warm and calm. They will want to eat three meals at regular times consisting of ample, warm, and moist foods. A hot breakfast is essential!
Vata rules the junctures of the day, sunrise and sunset, the larger span of time between 2:00 and 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. During these times Vata tends to be the most active, which makes it easy to feel scattered, and creates susceptibility to imbalance. Vatas will often wake up during this time frame in the morning. These hours are wonderful for meditation, asana practice, chanting, and creativity, especially when you’ve slept sufficiently the night before. To promote adequate sleep, go to bed early (before 10:00 p.m.) after having had a warm milk drink, a warm bath, and sesame oil massaged onto the soles of the feet. Between two and six in the afternoon, many people feel a dip in their energy. Vata types benefit from taking a short rest between two and four in the afternoon. They may want to use this time for quiet reflection or restorative breathing and yoga practices. If these are not possible, Vata types should try to minimize intense activities and schedules during this time. Taking natural and herbal energy boosts such as chyavanprash or a rejuvenating ojas drink can be beneficial in this window of time.
Moderate exercise, such as swimming and walking, is excellent for Vata types. Listening to peaceful music or to the sound of streams, rivers, oceans, or fountains nourishes Vata types’ delicate nervous system. Colors should be soft, warming, and calming (the opposite qualities of Vata) rather than bold and bright. Gold, red, orange, and yellow (not bright) combined with white or whitish-blue and green are good colors for Vata. While black, gray, and brown may help ground Vata when necessary, too much can be depressing and devitalizing. Aromas such as lavender and sweet orange can be used to nourish Vata types as well, especially in times of aggravation.
The primary intention for Pitta types is to practice moderation in all endeavors. They also need three regular meals of moderate quantity, favoring cooling and soothing foods. It is best to avoid hot, spicy, sour, and oily foods, and to limit salt intake. Ideally, Pittas should have sufficient challenges to keep them occupied without the stress and intensity of severe competition, even though they thrive on that.
Pitta governs the hours between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., which are times of great alertness and productivity. Agni mirrors the movement of the sun, with its rays strongest around noon. It is the perfect time to eat your biggest meal of the day. Pitta also governs from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Falling asleep after 10:00 p.m. can increase the fiery Pitta energy, forming a “second wind” that leads to insomnia.
Excelling in sports is natural for Pitta types. However, they need to be careful with too much competition and drive, which can overpower them. Water-based sports are excellent. Pitta types should exercise during the coolest part of the day, and avoid exposure to excessive heat, steam, and sunshine.
Pitta types benefit from music and aromas that are sweet and soothing. Lavender and sandalwood are good essential oils. White, green, blue— even gray and other cool, mild, calming colors, preferably in pastel or other mild shades, are balancing colors for Pittas. They should avoid hot colors like red, orange, and yellow, as well as deep black.
The key aims for Kapha types are to stimulate and invigorate the body, mind, and senses. Kapha types need to vary their routine, get plenty of exercise, and stay active. They often do better eating two meals a day. Breakfast can be skipped (though not in pregnancy or if one is sensitive to blood sugar dysregulation) or consist of fresh fruit or spiced tea. Their diet should emphasize light, warm, dry foods with pungent spices, generally avoiding dairy products and other heavy foods. Hot, warm, or room temperature drinks are best.
Kapha types benefit from setting goals and creating challenging situations to stay engaged. They must make a conscious effort to create variety in all their pursuits. They need zest. Competition is good for them, although they may find it stressful. Kaphas need to create heat, energy, and stimulation. They should not nap during the day, which can clog the bodily channels and create more lethargy and heaviness.
Kapha governs the hours between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. Most Kapha types benefit from rising before Kapha is activated in the morning, otherwise a sense of heaviness can make it difficult to get moving.
It is an excellent time of day for cleansings, evacuations, and ridding the body of excess Kapha accumulations, such as phlegm. A daily neti cleanse with warm, salted water can clear up Kapha congestion in the sinuses.
Vigorous exercise is wonderful for Kapha types if they can muster the motivation to get started. Tennis, jogging, dancing, and aerobics are some good choices. They should strive for daily exercise. Warm, stimulating, and bright colors like red, orange, gold, and yellow are good for Kaphas, as opposed to rich, dark colors that can aggravate them. If blue or green are used, the brighter hues should be favored. To spice things up, Kaphas can handle sharp contrasts in color. Invigorating, pungent, and uplifting aromas, such as grapefruit and eucalyptus, benefit Kapha.