Ayurveda Rhythms: Daily, seasonal, yearly circadian cycles
There is a continual thread that connects us through each and every moment in the year. In Ayurveda, we experience not only a 24 hour daily circadian cycle, but a lunar, seasonal, and yearly circadian cycle as well. These predictable cycles, which can feel like comforting and predictable rhythms, are pillars of an Ayurvedic life of balance between our body and our natural environment.
Ayurveda lifestyle gives us the daily, lunar and yearly tools to keep this rhythm in our lives, and stay balanced and vital all year long.
Daily cycles in Ayurveda are known as Dinacharya. This includes the sun rise and sun set, the mid-afternoon peak, and the lunar hours of our sleep cycle. Our daily cycles also include our habitual activities such as consuming our meals, doing daily exercise, the hours we spend working, and our evening routines. For many people, especially those in the vata and kapha dosha, maintaining a predictable and grounded routine is very nourishing and balancing. Maintaining a predictable and aligned daily routine is extremely helpful to maintain healthy sleep patterns for all three doshas as well.
Take note how you experience your daily routine, and if you begin to feel a little frazzled or imbalanced when your routine is thrown off. Likewise, try and keep your daily routine very consistent for at least two weeks and note if your energy, sleep quality, appetite and digestion improve.
Read More: Ayurveda: The Magic of Living Wisely
Seasonal cycles in Ayurveda are known as Ritucharya, which also describes how we connect to the seasons. Each season presents the characteristics of each dosha, and in some seasons you may feel more in alignment than in others. For example, the hot natured pitta may feel quite uncomfortable in the excess heat of summer, while the cold natured vata feels more balanced and grounded in the summer months. Through every season, it is important that we understand our predominant dosha so that we can make minor adjustments to our lifestyle in order to stay in balance. Once you learn and understand your predominant dosha, you can begin to experience how you respond to each season, and also how you feel balanced (or imbalance) on a day to day basis.
Ayurveda in winter
The dominant qualities present during winter are earth and water, which primarily aggravate the kapha dosha . Those with a high level of kapha will become more prone to chesty, mucus coughs and colds and may also experience a slow digestion, chills and swollen joints.
In climates where there is a long extended winter season, this can also aggravate the vata dosha due to the climate being drier and cooler. This can create symptoms such as ‘cracking’ sore joints and dry, sore skin.
For those with a dominant pitta dosha , winter can actually help keep their typically hot thermostat under control, but it’s still important that they keep their core warm to protect their internal organs.
Throughout your individual days in the winter, include daily activities that can support your dosha in the the winter season. This may include enjoying warming, grounding beverages throughout the day (for kapha), doing a warm oil massage in the evenings to encourage good sleep (for vata), taking a brisk walk outdoors to expel excess energy or heat (for pitta).
If you are dominantly kapha or vata, try incorporating some of these tips into your daily routine to balance the introverted energy of winter:
Sleeping in a bit later can actually be beneficial during the winter, as staying warm in your bed helps you to rejuvenate (good news for kapha types who love a lie in!).
When you get up, if you brush your teeth with the addition of stimulating oils such as cinnamon and clove, or, wash your mouth out with warm water rather than cold it will help clear the palate of congestion.
Try to massage yourself a few times a week with warming oils such as sesame oil to offset the tendency to coldness and aching joints. Allow time for the oil to be absorbed and then take a warm shower. Using an exfoliator or loofah will also help get the blood flowing on those chilly mornings.
Make your first drink of the day a sip of something warming and invigorating containing herbs such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon or clove. You could try a cup of Lemon Ginger Manuka Honey or Revitalise tea . To wake up the appetite and encourage a healthy bowel movement, try adding a twist of lemon and some honey to your tea.
Try once a day to practice stimulating yoga postures such as sun salutations until you feel warm and your breathing deepens. If you have time, you could also include some strong backward and forward bends that open the chest and help to move stagnant kapha.
If you are easily disturbed by the cold, wet and heavy qualities of winter then you may benefit from also taking a dose of Pukka Elderberry Syrup in a cup of Cleanse Tea in the mornings or evenings as it will help blow away any colds and coughs.
The winter diet should contain warm foods that are mildly spicy, slightly salty and nourishing to clear excess kapha. We have a tendency to eat more during the winter because our digestive fire (known as agni) is often stronger: This is because the cooler weather constricts the surface of the body, pushing the heat back to our core.