Lifestyle routines for health and happiness
Ayurveda’s wisdom views good lifestyle routines to be really important for helping to balance our dosha or mind-body type. Indeed, one of the greatest gifts of Ayurveda is that it helps us to live more in harmony with the rhythm of nature, through both daily and seasonal lifestyle suggestions that take circadian rhythms changes in our environment into account.
Much of this comes across as old-fashioned sense. Inventions such as the electric light bulb and supermarkets selling non-seasonal food mean it’s easy to get out of touch with our biorhythms.
It also helps to understand that these suggestions are based on an understanding that each of the doshas dominates at a particular time of day. This knowledge of the doshic clock was used to develop a healthy daily routine for each dosha. If you don’t know which dosha you are, take our quiz to find out.
Each dosha dominates as follows:
6am-9am and 6pm- 9pm: Kapha dosha dominates
9-12pm and 9pm-12am: Pitta dosha dominates
3am-6am and 3pm-6pm: Vata dosha dominates
Ayurveda has some key lifestyle suggestions for all based on this understanding of how the doshas dominate throughout the day and night:
Try and wake up as near to 6am as you can. Before 6am is Vata time and waking then makes one feel energetic and light and aids a morning bowel movement. As 6am-9am is Kapha time, waking up during this time is likely to make you feel groggy, which can build up over time.
Start the day with a mug of hot water to ease your digestive system into life. You can add some freshly grated ginger and a squeeze of lemon to enhance this effect or enjoy Pukka’s Three Ginger blend. This helps to get your digestive enzymes going and cleanses the digestive tract of any residues of food you ate yesterday.
If you can tailor your day’s activities it makes sense to spend the morning on more task-oriented activities, when Pitta dosha dominates. The afternoon is more suited to more creative activities, as Vata dosha dominates at this time.
Try and eat your largest meal at lunchtime, between 12pm and 1pm, when Pitta dosha is most active and digestion strongest.
Go to sleep as near to 10pm as often you can, so you can benefit from the period between 10pm and 2am. This is the body’s time for physical repair when Pitta dosha is active. This is a time when your metabolic system is cleaning the body, so if you are sleeping you support the purification. Find out more about natural ways to get a better night sleep.
Try to maintain a regular routine of your daily activities, and to cook for yourself at least once a day. Homemade food, cooked with love, nourishes the soul. Find out more about maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Try and be content with a calm mind. Appreciate the good things in your life on a daily basis and try not to react to the difficulties. Know when to try and when to surrender to life’s circumstances with grace and a smile.
In all things in life try to avoid extremes – too little, too much, too cold, too hot. Always aim for a good balance. If you feel like the odd piece of cake, go for it, but enjoy every mouthful with awareness and don’t feel guilty about it!
Small positive change
It might be challenging to include all these suggestions into your daily life at once. You can try adopting one or two each week and seeing what effect on your body and mind. Even a small improvement in your feelings of well-being can be enough of an incentive for making more gradual changes. Ayurveda is certainly no quick-fix, and the most profound changes tend to happen gradually over time.
Beyond helpful suggestions for everyone, Ayurveda also offers tailored lifestyle tips for each of the doshas. Remember, we’re all a mixture of the three doshas so we’ll show characteristics of each but one or two will tend to dominate. If two doshas are dominant for you, you can read both articles or be guided by the seasons.
For example, Vata is more likely to get aggravated when the seasons' change in spring and autumn, Pitta dosha in summer and Kapha dosha is late winter and early spring. So take extra care to balance these doshas at these times of the year.