In my last post I went into great detail about the value of synchronizing our lifestyle to nature's rhythms on a daily basis. We talked about how each section of the day is governed by a certain energy and how we can benefit from using those times/energies for specific activities. I would like to finish that idea with these two thoughts:
- what an ideal daily routine would look like (adapted to today's world, a bit)
- why Ayurveda believes routine to be one of the most effective tools in preserving health
Here is an ideal Ayurvedic daily routine:
Now you might look at it and think "That's pretty straightforward. It's what most people do in the day and what I more or less do". Yes, that is true, and many of us are in a flow like this. What I want to highlight is why it pays off to stick to it regardless of the changes that happen in our day, year and life circumstances. What I mean is, it is tempting, is it not, to sleep in on Saturday morning after a big week? It's tempting to postpone the daily workout and do a big one on our day off? Or to skip breakfast if we're running late to work? Or to let our kids sleep in during the holidays? Well, of course it is. We all adapt our routine to our circumstances; and sometimes that's just what we need to do. Other times, we can do better. And we all know when that is!!
Here is what Ayurveda says about it. The body needs routine for smooth functioning. Daily routine keeps stress and toxin levels low, enhances energy and keeps aging at bay. The right activity at the right time helps with this, as does consistent routine. For example, if you keep to a meal routine and eat at the same time everyday, the digestive system will prepare its digestive fire at the same time everyday in anticipation of the meal. This will maximize the digestive power of your body by enhancing assimilation and reducing undigestive food wastes in the system. In the opposite circumstance, where you eat lunch at different times everyday (say noon somedays, and a late breakfast at 11 am on weekends followed by a later lunch at 3 pm) your body is just unable to prepare its digestive fire in anticipation of lunch. Digestion is not as efficient, and may result in things like bloating, constipation, malabsorption etc.
A great analogy that we use for this idea is that of a flowing river. We want to avoid being like the turbulent phase of a river as much as we want to avoid being like a stagnant section that doesn't move. The ideal is calmly flowing water where the influx and the outflux are somewhat balanced so it appears to be still even though it is moving. In this metaphor we would be the ideal calm flowing river when we have:
~well balanced meals at the right time (and the same time!) everyday
~mental stimulation in moderation
~daily exercise according to our constitution's needs and
~around 8 hours of sleep each night.
So try this idea out. Start to gradually mold your routine to synchronize with nature. Inch it in the right direction rather than any radical changes. For example, if you are in the habit of working late into the night, try and wind down just a half hour earlier to start. Then as that becomes comfortable, try for another half hour. Same for waking up earlier in the morning. And as I always say, stick to this for a few weeks to really see the difference. Good luck! And I am here to answer questions.
Hello fellow explorer-of-health!
My aim for this column is to share the self-balancing skills that I have discovered through Ayurveda and show how these ideas can be adopted by anyone (without the need to buy into a whole other cultural reality!)
Updated monthly, so check back in.