Ayurveda for Daily Life
You’re looking to have Ayurveda in your life daily, but how do you go about this?
What is a daily Ayurveda routine, does Ayurveda determine when you wake up, and most importantly, how do you balance the doshas? Fortunately, there are many ways to empower ourselves with this timeless health wisdom.
The word Ayurveda itself comes from two Sanskrit words Ayuh, meaning life, and Veda, meaning science. Hence the often repeated definition that Ayurveda is the “science of life”. However, the word Ayuh means much more than just “life”. It can also mean “being alive” and even include larger themes like ‘how to live a vibrant life’. In fact, we can take it a step further and use it to explore how to accomplish our dharma, or in modern terms, ‘our purpose in life’. This is a big undertaking, and the first step in realizing ‘our purpose in life’ is to have health and energy. This is Ayurveda’s greatest contribution - it can increase our ability to stabilize in a world often devoid of stabilizing forces.
Daily Ayurveda as Daily Routine
One of the most powerful and immediate ways to bring Ayurveda into your daily life is through an Ayurveda daily routine. Sometimes this has more to do with how we live than anything else. When we think of Ayuh, life, we should think of a deep sense of routine or rhythm. It is the rhythm of our hearts that keep us alive, the rhythm of the sun and moon that nourishes life on earth and the rhythm of the seasons that holds us and gives meaning to the phases of our lives.
Only recently in human history have we removed ourselves from the greater routine and rhythm of nature. Of course, this isn’t to say that every aspect of our lives needs to be planned, but a strong daily rhythm becomes the root that nourishes us.
When to Sleep and When to Wake Up
When to sleep, how much sleep you’re getting, and when to wake up is of great interest these days. Now you can even read hundreds of books on sleep! Ayurveda helps us determine these times for us, as they can vary for each person depending on dosha and age. Generally speaking, a Kapha individual, say a strong-framed person who may find it easy to gain weight, needs less sleep, and can do just fine with 6 hours of sleep. A Pitta person will tend to have more of a medium build, be very competitive, likely practice Ashtanga Yoga and be very goal-oriented, and typically need around 7 hours of sleep. A Vata individual, who often has a slender frame and a difficulty in gaining weight, needs the most sleep, between 8-9 hours.
Think about when you sleep, and how rested you are when you wake up…
What if the Sun was different?
For example, do you fall asleep one night at midnight, the next day at 10pm and the third day at 1 am? What about the times that you wake up? Imagine what the world would be like if the sun rose one day at 4 am and next at 10 am! These irregularities would affect human life and all of the plants and animals as well! Having an even tempo in regards to sleep will add clarity and peace to your life. Your body and mind could experience a lasting sense of rest that will sustain you throughout the day.
Sharing this stance with Yoga, an Ayurveda approach would be to wake up earlier, anywhere between 5 am -7am (depending on the individual) because this is the time of day that is filled with the most Sattwa, or peace and calm qualities. When you step outside or are awake at this time it is easy for the mind to be clear and focused. This is what we mean by Sattwa. The early morning is energizing spiritually as well as mentally and physically and is therefore the perfect time to do your morning asana practice. This helps to align your daily life with your highest intentions which are really the hallmark of an Ayurveda-inspired life.
How to Balance Your Doshas
While learning how to balance your dosha (bodily constitution) will improve over time, the most important place for this journey to begin is by balancing your digestion. This is because your digestive state typically reflects the dosha that is most out of balance.
There are three types of digestion:
- a mobile vata-based type where one is sometimes hungry, sometimes not
- a hot pitta-based type where one is often hungry and doesn’t like to skip meals
- a slow kapha-based type where one feels like their food takes a long time to digest
A simple rule of thumb is that you need to be sure that you are truly feeling hunger when you eat. The pitta person, who probably invented the word ‘hangry’, knows this well. The vata and kapha types, however, can have either a variable or a sluggish type that needs to be strengthened. For the latter two, having adequate space between meals without snacking allows time for one’s agni, or digestion, to fully be kindled before adding more food to it. This will contribute to a centered and focused mind in addition to helping one feel an optimal sense of energy.
Another simple daily Ayurveda habit to aid digestion is what you put into your body first thing every day. Not coffee, not hot black tea, no funny herbs, but water! Drink a glass of plain hot water first thing in the morning. The pitta person who has a strong and constant digestive fire, may have a warm glass, not hot. Drinking water first thing in the morning helps strengthen the weak digestions and cleanses the body in the process.
Bringing Ayurveda into your daily life will enhance your sense of health but most importantly, it will help you express your divine self. This has always been the definition of health in Ayurveda: a balanced mind and body rooted in a deep-seated feeling of peace.