Some Ayurvedic wisdom to optimize your potential by aligning your day to day!
It’s so easy to become bogged down by your daily routine and work load so that your meals, rest, self-expression, and self care practice feel more like chores than they are fulfilling. The way that we spend our time, when we become mindful, can be more liberating than limiting.
In modern times, we often think of the day as 24 hours, and break it into breakfast, lunch and dinner time. Ayurveda instead suggests we view time as a cycle of 4 hour periods, related to the natural Doshic rhythm. The beginning and end of the day is associated with Kapha–best for grounding into, and settling after your day. Energy builds to the peak of day and night as Pitta, when your mental state and digestion are at their most powerful. Vata’s ethereal, dreamy and creative energy is related to the late hours of the day and night. Having a daily routine can be the most rewarding kind of self care; a commitment to yourself is the practice you get to look forward to all the time! Let’s take our routines, and ritualize our day to by aligning to the energy of the time, so that we can show up fully as our highest selves! Here is the optimal Ayurvedic schedule for better sleep, productivity, digestion, creative drive, and mind-body balance. Let’s get it!
6 AM–10 AM: Awaken, Activate, Align
The day begins with Kapha energy, making us feel grounded and at peace after sleep–but when Kapha is imbalanced you may feel groggy, heavy from last night’s late dinner, or almost too exhausted to get out of bed. To best take advantage of this time, get up just before the sun rises, around 6 AM. Begin your day with meditation, watch the sun rise, and enjoy the sounds of the earth waking around you. Sounds like torture? Then you REALLY need to try this.
Although you may want to reach for an extra cup of coffee, rising earlier than usual, Ayurveda actually doesn’t recommend it… caffeine is like gasoline over you digestive fire. It can be overstimulating, overly acidic and lead to anxiety, stomach ulcers and heartburn, especially on an empty stomach. To boost your energy in the morning, and keep it throughout the day, get moving with some light exercise like yoga, or even some jumping jacks. Your body has been still for hours in sleep, which is why you may feel achy or have tight muscles. An activated body is an activated mind!
We all know, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but having a quality, light meal is especially vital. Rather than a swiping a granola bar, or cooking some eggs and bacon, have a easy-to-digest, warming breakfast of cooked grains or mashed sweet potato with a splash of milk, cinnamon and seeds.
10 AM–2 PM: Maintain the Day in Meditation
The sun is at its highest around noon, and during this Pitta period, energy is at its highest, so we’re at us our peak mental and digestive power. This time is best to get organized about where you put that energy, complete the hardest tasks of the day, and also have your biggest meal. Often dinner is our largest meal, because it’s the meal we’re more likely home for, but this doesn’t leave the body enough time to fully digest the food before sleep. It can be hard to break from the routine of grabbing a quick bite, like a sandwich or salad, but try adding ritual to your day by preparing food to heat at the office. Compare how you feel having your largest meal at the peak of the day, to when you have it at night.
Keep your mind in the peaceful state you cultivated in the morning by meditating throughout the day. Also, you can do anything in a meditative state! Focus and find grounding in the present moment, without reaching for the next or fixating on what has already happened today.
2 PM–6 PM: Do Your Dharma
The first Vata period–when we’re at our most creative, day-dreamy, and the nervous system is most active, happens in the late afternoon.This is your optimal time to tap into your creativity, and chanel day dreams into insights as you work on a project that fulfills your dharma, your life path. It can also be a time we feel a bit of an afternoon slump–you might want to grab another coffee or a sweet snack. Try grounding down instead. During the time you’d take to go to a coffee shop or check in on Instagram, try taking a walk to a nearby park, take off your shoes, and soak up the earth’s negative ions, natural antioxidants, for their healing power. You can meditate, connect to your root chakra, and practice some yogic squats to ground down your energy.
Ayurveda suggests we take at least 4 hours between meals to completely digest the food and detox the body before eating more. If you’ve had a cold or raw lunch you could be have major sweet cravings now. If you feel you do need a snack at this time (Vata types, especially might have the munchies), have something high in protein, but low in sugar, like avocados, hummus, nuts, or a vegetable soup.
6 PM–10 PM: Homecoming
Kapha’s second period of the day is when you feel inclined to wrap up it up and come home to yourself. Utilize this energy to leave the stress of work, at work. This time is best for having dinner, self care rituals, and winding down to restfulness. Try a 1 or 2 hour technology detox now to avoid the extra blue-light and allow your melatonin levels to rise. Self care can be a hot bath, self-oil massage, stretching, or even chopping vegetables in a meditative state. Not watching TV.
A light dinner leaves your body unburdened as you rest. Ever had a food hangover from a heavy dinner? Instead, a meal of roasted veggie soup, some spiced lentils, or grains, is not only delicious, but easy to digest. Often after dinner we’ll feel inclined to sit by the TV, or relax until sleep–but try going for a short walk instead. This habit will aid your digestion and metabolism, and lengthen your life. This can be a great opportunity to also connect with a family member, roommate, or deeper with yourself at the day’s end.
10 PM–2 AM: Rest and REM
Have you noticed a second wind of energy around 10 at night? It’s Pitta time, again. In fact, that’s why bars and nightclubs are open during this time; they take advantage of this surge of Pitta energy. It’s best to be in bed and have lights out before 10 PM to avoid it. It can be hard to make this change, but easier when you’re taking full advantage of the doshic time periods beforehand. A super yummy night time routine during the Kapha time prior adds ease to this ritual. Think of a task now? Write it down and complete the it tomorrow, when the sun is on your side. According to Ayurveda., we have our most healing sleep from 10-12, and do the most work in the dream world by having more cycles of REM sleep, the rapid eye movement stage, so that the body and mind can be healed by the rest.
2 AM–6 AM: Deep Dreams
The veil is thin, go within! During this primary Vata time of the day, we are dreaming the deepest in sleep–or closest to our psyche in the quiet and dark early morning, if awake. Meditation during these early hours is amazing, as you’ve yet to start the task list of the day. Rise for the next day right before the sun, spend time in silence along with the stillness of the earth. At the sun’s rising, begin with Kapha again.
How you start your day is how you’ll feel for the rest of it, and we can always find center by seeping into a meditative state, at any time, and grounding down into the present moment. Timing is your magic, and follow this Doshic rhythm to begin to think of your routine as a day-long ritual! Reap the priceless benefits of better sleep and digestion, complete hard tasks with ease, take full advantage of your creativity, and move through the day glowing as your highest self.
For More on Ayurveda, check out Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose Ketabi
She has been called “a leading voice for the millennial generation into the new paradigm shift” by Deepak Chopra.
She loves to make spiritual + Ayurvedic wisdom fun and relatable so it can serve the needs of today’s people.