By Jennifer Kelleher
Ayurveda (Sanskrit term that means, “knowledge of life”) is the natural system of medicine that originated in India over 3,000 years ago. There are many great wisdoms in Ayurvedic teachings on how to live healthy and balanced throughout the day, the four seasons, and a lifetime. Today, I share the natural energetics that occur during a 24-hour daily cycle, as described by Ayurveda.
Before diving in, it is helpful to know that Ayurveda views everything in nature as being composed of three energy principles called ‘doshas’– Vata, Pitta, Kapha– in varying proportions. Vata is made up of air and ether, Pitta is fire and water, and Kapha is water and earth. Each dosha has its own characteristics, tendencies, affinities, structure, functions, strengths, and weaknesses. In a 24-hour daily cycle, different parts of the day are said to be ruled by different doshas, giving that portion of the day certain qualities. Learning this awareness can be useful in helping us to organize our day and optimize productivity, feeling good and balanced in the process!
Ayurveda associates 2 to 6 a.m. and p.m. with the Vata dosha. During these hours, the veil between the conscious and unconscious realms is thinnest. Lean into this energy in the morning by waking up before 6 a.m. Before 6 a.m. is said to be the most natural time to rise, as it brings lightness, mobility, inspiration, and creativity. It is a great time to note your dreams, meditate, engage in spiritual practices, and be creative. During the afternoon Vata segment, it can be helpful to pacify Vata to avoid anxiety and insomnia. Focus on grounding and embodiment. Get out in nature, practice yoga, meditate, and cook yourself a nourishing dinner. Earthly things, activities that bring you into your body, will help to balance the Vata wind in the mind so that you can stay calm and in circadian rhythm.
6 to 10 a.m. and p.m. are the Kapha parts of the day. Kapha is a heavier energy, so unless you want to intentionally have a slow and lazy morning, it is advisable to pacify Kapha in the first segment. Waking up before 6:00 a.m. allows you to ride the wave of Vata instead of getting stuck in Kapha mud. Because Kapha is slow, it is important to intentionally move your energy between 6 and 10 a.m. Tongue scraping, energizing breath work (such as kapalabhati breath), and exercise are all great practices for this time of day. Then, embrace the natural winding down that Kapha brings in the evening between 6 and 10 p.m. Cozy up and go inward. Do your best to avoid too much stimulation.
Read an easy book, listen to soothing music, use relaxing essential oils, take a warm bath, drink calming tea. Most importantly, fall asleep before 10 p.m. If you are not sleeping by 10 p.m., it is likely you will get a second wind that makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Finally, 10 a.m. / p.m. to 2 p.m./ a.m. are ruled by Pitta. Pitta is heat and flow. Ride the Pitta wave from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eat your largest meal of the day during this window when digestive fires are strongest. Use this time to be driven and productive. Get your work and errands done. In the evening, pacify Pitta by making sure you are asleep by 10 p.m. When sleeping during this nighttime Pitta window, your liver switches on and you digest your day. If you are not asleep by 10 p.m., your body does not have adequate time to digest your day’s foods, thoughts, and emotions. It gets backed up and has to work extra hard the next day.
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