A set of daily habits, rituals, or routines that guide us, like the natural rhythms of nature.
“Wise people who desire happiness in this world and the next, should make great efforts in practicing wholesomeness of diet, conduct, and actions.”
(Ref: Astanga Hr. Dayam, Su. Chapter 2)
There is a change in the late summer season, are you feeling the shift? Here in Maine we are having cooler evenings and mornings, and a little less sunlight. At this point in time- you may feel a little off- this is where the elements start showing up as a potential excess of one or more. Maybe as a feeling of heat, heaviness or dryness in the body or mind. We can adjust our daily routines to find a more natural rhythm to resolve many of these potential or full fledged imbalances.
You may ask: why is daily routine so helpful?
Daily habits can keep us strong and healthy. By choosing healthy habits and making it a practice, we support our vital energy- increasing and maintaining our energy flows, vitality and longevity of life.
Maybe you’re asking the questions:
What’s in it for me?
What should I integrate first?
Let me ask you something:
Do you feel like you are your own greatest asset? Do you feel that having a daily practice for yourself is one that helps you grow over time? We are incredible beings! We are made up of a certain combination of elements- the doshas, and those elements fluctuate from time of day to season. Following a daily routine for your health and well-being provides nourishment, strength and clarity in mind and body. Staying regular with your daily practices can be a beacon in your life, a pillar of integrity. Whether we’re going through a specific phase in life or simply experiencing seasonal changes; aligning ourselves with daily action to support our greatest form of health, expression of being, living in our dharma, all requires a greater level of commitment to oneself. So, my friends, that’s what’s in it, for you, for me, for us all!
The only thing constant in life is change, and by being our own Northstar, we can create a solid container to hold all of our life’s experiences in. That container is created by the fundamental daily rituals of Ayurveda known as Dinacharya. We are constantly changing and evolving, cycling through the rhythms of the day, the ebbs and flows of life as it fluctuates with the seasons, and as these elements interplay in our environments and bodies. We may be attuned to how the Doshas play out in our bodies/minds as well. As we grow on our path through life, what we do on a daily basis supports our entire being. It is like regular oil changes for our vehicles. If we commit to maintaining the equipment around us, let’s also look at our bodies and minds as valuable, finely tuned, highly operating entities that need daily maintenance, respect, rest, nourishment and exercise.
As the word Dinacharya translates to daily routine- Ayurveda introduces us to a set of daily practices that we can follow morning and night. This practice is going to evolve and change slightly, particularly with the seasons, but that is the beauty of a practice- it is a routine that’s not perfect, that can fluctuate over time, but most importantly: is always there for you.
So here we are, we start by taking one step- a small step of willingness. Each small step changes our daily micro habits- which is essentially our daily Dinacharya, into something far greater. Small daily actions feed into the larger macro picture of one’s life: vitality, health, wellness and longevity! We gain strength and purity in body and mind, and we begin to learn how to process and cleanse from impure emotions, old habits and eating choices. When we find ourselves unbalanced or ungrounded, we can come back to our simple daily routines to help integrate consistency and grounded energy.
The goal is to feel grounded and balanced inside. Our modern lifestyles and the way the external elements and doshas are always fluctuating, can create an excess of unresolved waste. Whether that be in the physical body or in the emotions, it can appear as an imbalance- maybe an overactive/under active mind/body. Ultimately we want to live with ease, to be grounded and confident in our bodies and minds; and really- in all areas of our life.
Right environment, right relationships, right actions.
Ayurveda starts with a daily morning dinacharya:
- Wake up between 4-6am
- Tongue scrape and brush teeth
- Rinse eyes/face with cool water
- Sip 1 cup of warm/hot water
- Go to the bathroom
- Practice stretching or yoga, pranayama, meditation, and other form of vigorous exercise, if possible.
- Abyhanga: oil massage the body or dry brush
- Neti pot (while in shower if needed)
- Eat a nourishing, preferably sugar-free breakfast
Notice what rhythms and routines work for you… pick ONE of these to start and see how that goes. Add more as you evolve.
I personally am a Vata dosha, and have struggled with consistency in my life until I was about 38 years old. I found that I would stick with a routine for a certain amount of time and then a seasonal change would come along or a big life event- like changing jobs or moving, and I would have a harder time getting back to that daily routine. After going through yoga school in 2017, and Ayurveda Yoga training in 2018, I understood the importance, but it was more on an intellectual level. It hadn’t fully landed in my body or become integrated in my day yet. As I consistently met with my yoga teachers for further guidance, I started to land in my body and my daily practices. When I had committed to actually doing a few morning routines, they became an integral part of my life. Additionally, what I learned in 2020-2021 in Ayurveda school, and in Pranayama and Meditation intensive in the spring of 2021, helped me hone these daily rituals. I now have a set of morning practices that I do every single day no matter what.
When I have more time available on my days off, I extend that practice to include all of the actions on the list- and add in a walk and some journaling. Abhyanga is something I have a harder time doing on a daily basis just due time constraints before work, however- I do it on Sunday evenings before my bath. Most nights my evening routine will include cleansing the face and teeth, brushing hair, and then practicing oiling of feet or in the fall/winter I will oil my hair right before getting into bed. I then practice gentle pranayama before retiring for the evening. (choose a pair of socks that are just for wearing after oiling the feet, or a pillow case you don’t love as this will protect the sheets from getting messy).
Once my morning routine was down, things really shifted for me. I am more grounded in my day, and I am able to feel the space between each thought and allow fear and anxiety to subside. I can pause, realize my own personal power, and move forward intentionally rather than reactively; and to get comfortable with the uncomfortable moments in life. By committing to myself, (because, let’s face it- I am the most important person in my life, and I have to be well cared for- eating well, sleeping well and having space to process the experiences coming in through my 5 senses, as well as the food I eat, to be operating well), I learned how good I could feel! The secret, for me, was cultivating and committing to ME, each and every day in my morning and evening routines.
As I look back to my personal journey, it took me about a year to integrate one new morning routine to start, and about 2 years to evolve to where I am now. I started with drinking a cup of warm lemon water every morning. After that first year I slowly integrated most all of the other items on the morning list. I would say that my personal Dinacharya has grown and developed quite a bit. It really is just that- a practice- that grows and develops over time. Where as once before I used to get up and only practice vigorous vinyasa, cardio exercise or running, I now do this set Dinacharya before I go outside and run, etc.
Ayurveda is wonderful at recognizing that it depends on each person’s lifestyle and where you’re coming from. Begin slowly, integrate one thing at a time, and over time, see if it builds up to a full morning practice, that you commit to every day, for you.
Namaste! To your health and wellbeing.