In order to follow a balanced and healthy life, Ayurveda suggests a specific daily routine for each individual. This is based on the individual’s basic body constitution (known as “Dosha”). To be able to follow Ayurvedic principles, one not only needs to take Ayurvedic herbs and massages according to ones Dosha but also follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle which suits that Dosha.
“Dinacharya” is the Ayurvedic term for daily routine. “Dina” means day and “Charya” means to follow. Following a proper Dinacharya is one of the best methods to prevent disease, promote good health and prolong life.
Ayurveda places a lot of importance on the various times of the day and night which correspond with the three Doshas. Each Dosha dominates two cycles during the day and night as follows:
• The Kapha Dosha, which comprises the elements of water and earth, is strongest between 6am to 10am and 6pm to 10pm
• The Pitta Dosha, which comprises the elements of fire and water, is dominant between 10am to 2pm and 10pm to 2am
• The Vata Dosha, which comprises the elements of air and space, is strongest between 2am to 6am and 2pm to 6pm
To stay fit and healthy, one should follow a daily routine which respects the above phases of ones natural body rythm.
• As Vata is dominant between 2am to 6am, should one wish to wake up early, one will find waking up easiest during this period. If one sleeps beyond 6am, the body moves out of the Vata phase into the Kapha phase and one tends to want to sleep more.
• Ideally people with dominant Kapha should wake up before sunrise, Pitta dominant people should wake up at sunrise and Vata dominant people should wake up after sunrise.
• While cleaning the mouth, Ayurveda recommends that the tongue be scraped with a tongue scraper. If you do not have a tongue scraper, brushing the tongue with a toothbrush will do. This helps to clear away various toxins from the mouth.
• After brushing ones teeth, one should drink a glass of warm water. Vata and Kapha people can drink the water hot but Pitta people should drink the water at lukewarm temperature. Thereafter drinking a herbal tea infused with ginger and lemon helps cleanse the channels of the body thereby keeping the circulation and digestion healthy. Thereafter, during the day one should drink an Ayurvedic herbal tea suited to ones body type; this helps detoxify and balance ones body throughout the day.
Thereafter one should practise Yoga according to ones body type.
• Vata dominant people should perform the positions gently and take rest between positions. Breathing exercises should also be performed gently. One should follow those breathing exercises which help relax and warm the body gently (e.g. the alternate nostril breathing exercise).
• People with dominating Pitta Dosha should perform those positions which help cool down the body. It is important for them to exercise in a cool environment. Breathing exercises like the “Shitali and Shitkari Pranayama” are very beneficial for the Pitta Dosha.
• Kapha Dosha dominated people should perform exercises which are vigorous and stimulating. They should try not to take long periods of rest between positions. Breathing exercises like “Surya Bheda” and the right nostril breathing exercise help pacify the Kapha Dosha.
• After having performed exercises that help pacify the related Dosha, one should apply oil (ideally sesame oil) to ones body (including ears and feet).
• Vata pacifying oil should be used by Vata dominant individuals. Similarly Pitta and Kapha dominant people should use Pitta and Kapha pacifying massage oils.
• Leave the oil on the body for at least 15 minutes.
Bathing and meditation:
• After having showered in water that is not too cold or hot, it is suggested that one meditate for 10 minutes. This helps to stimulate the mental and emotional energy and helps keep one happy and balanced throughout the day.
• Breakfast should be taken according to ones body type. Vata and Kapha dominated people should have a warm breakfast. As Pitta people tend to feel hot very easily, they should consume foods that are cooling and refreshing.
• One should also take one tablespoon of Chyawanprash (a jam-like health tonic made from fruits and herbs) every day after breakfast (and dinner). Not only is Chyawanprash a natural anti-oxidant, it also helps to balance all the three Doshas and strengthens the immune system.
• Food should be consumed between 12pm and 1pm as this is a peak time for Pitta and this dosha helps in the digestion of food.
• Food should be consumed bearing in mind different tastes and effects on the body.
• Vata people should try to eat foods with sweet, sour and salty tastes as they help pacify the Vata Dosha. Food should be warm and not very dry. Consuming food such as warm soups helps to balance this Dosha.
• Pitta dominating individuals should try to eat foods with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes as they help to reduce and balance the fire element in the body. Food should generally be lukewarm and refreshing.
• As Kapha individuals need something to mobilise them, they should tend towards foods that are spicy, bitter and astringent. Food should be hot; cold salads should therefore be kept to a minimum.
• In general, for all body types, having a glass of hot water after food is excellent for ones health.
• The foods taken at dinner should also accord with ones Dosha.
• One should avoid cold and heavy foods at dinner time. As ones physical activity tends to reduce after dinner, such foods may block the channels of the body and turn into Ama (undigested food substances or toxins).
• One should be awake for at least 3 hours after dinner in order to give the body sufficient time to digest the food. Ideally one should eat dinner around 6pm to 7pm.
The Vata Person
• As the Vata Dosha denotes activity, restlessness and irregularity, a Vata dominant individual should aim to follow a regular routine every day.
• This includes waking up at the same time every day, eating food at set times every day and going to bed early, preferably around 10pm.
• They should avoid cold and dry foods. Relaxing Yoga and meditation is a must for Vata dominated people.
• Keeping oneself warm also helps to balance the Vata Dosha.
• Herbs such as Shatavari and Brahmi are beneficial for the balancing the Vata Dosha.
The Pitta Person
• The Pitta Dosha denotes heat, fire and transformation. Such individuals should aim to follow a lifestyle that helps pacify fire. This includes consuming cooling and refreshing foods.
• Staying in a cool and refreshing environment also helps pacify the Pitta Dosha.
• People of this Dosha tend to get hungry more often than the other Dosha types. Therefore they should have small regular meals and snacks.
• Avoiding spicy foods also helps to balance the Pitta Dosha.
• Herbs like Triphala and Neem are good for balancing the Pitta Dosha.
The Kapha Person
• The Kapha Dosha represents heaviness, stability and less movement. These individuals should exercise as often as possible and drink plenty of warm water.
• Yoga exercises such as the Sun Salutation help to remove lethargy and sluggishness. By maintaining a healthy metabolic rate, Kapha people can avoid getting overweight.
• Avoiding sweet foods helps to eliminate heaviness. Kapha individuals should aim to eat only when they are hungry.
• Keeping themselves warm and dry will also help balance this Dosha.
• Herbs such as Pippali and Ashwagandha help to balance the Kapha Dosha.
Following a lifestyle according to your body type not only helps to prevent diseases but also prolongs life. An Ayurvedic lifestyle can be very easily integrated into your individual lifestyle. A combination of herbs, foods, yoga exercises, massages and a lifestyle according to ones Dosha helps to bring complete balance into ones life.