This important ancient ritual is designed to help you feel balanced, keep a clear mind, and live longer. Learn how to practice in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
Circadian Medicine: Why Dinacharya is Important
The most recent Circadian Medicine research suggests that human genes have lost the ability to perceive and stay in tune with the circadian rhythms of nature. (1-3)
In our high-tech, fast-paced world with endless distraction and entertainment, more and more of us are becoming disconnected. Circadian disruptors like jet-lag, artificial and blue light, shift/night work disconnect the body’s physiological needs from environmental cues.
Scientists are only now beginning to understand exactly how important it is for the body to stay connected to the rhythms of nature. The disconnection from the circadian rhythms is called chronodisruption,
Chronodisruption has been linked to a host of health concerns, including poor cognitive function, mood disorders, sleep disorders, diabetes, obesity, daytime sleepiness, reduced school performance, reduced driving reaction time, substance abuse, heart disease and some cancers. (10,11)
While Ayurveda has emphasized the importance of a connection with nature for millennia, it was nice to read in a recent issue of Scientific American that Circadian Medicine “may revolutionize medicine as we know it.” (2)
In fact, three researchers who discovered the molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythms were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2017. (7) Soon, we can expect to see medical doctors who specialize in Circadian Medicine, but why wait? Just find a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner!
In this article, I will share the Ayurvedic daily routine designed to maintain and reconnect us to the natural circadian rhythms. In Ayurveda, a daily ritual of self-care is called dinacharya.
I have written full articles and eBooks (available for free!) dedicated to most components of this routine, so if you are curious about the benefits of a certain technique, check out the articles and the science behind it (click the links in the bullet points below) and see if it fits for you.
This daily routine can become very elaborate, so I have listed the basics (marked with an asterisk*), along with the optional components.
- Arise early in the morning, preferably before the sunrise.*
- Drink a large glass of warm water – with lemon out of a copper cup is ideal.*
- Wash your face.*
- Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper which stimulates digestion and elimination, preferably a copper scraper.*
- Brush your teeth with natural tooth powder or paste.*
- Evacuate bowels and bladder, ideally within the first hour of waking.*
- Do 10-15 minutes of morning yoga and/or 15-30 minute brisk walk or exercise while performing nasal breathing – see my nose breathing workout articles and videos.*
- 5-10 minutes of breathing exercise (pranayama).
- 5-15 minute meditation or sit in silence – see my One Minute Mediation or TAT – Transformation Awareness Technique Meditation eCourse.*
- Shower or bathe.*
- Perform oil pulling – swish herbalized coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 10-15 minutes while showering.
- Enjoy your daily abhyanga (self-massage using oil). Best with our Lymphatic Massage Oil or Tri-Doshic Massage Oil – this can also be done in shower).*
- Breakfast: eat a small amount, but make it big enough to get you through to lunch without needing a snack. Quantity may vary based on body type.*
- Lunch: relax and make it the largest meal of the day. Do not snack until dinner.*
- Brief rest on the left side and light walking (10 to 15 minutes) after lunch to facilitate digestion.
- Supper: the lighter and earlier, the better.*
- Evening yoga, breathing exercise, and meditation.
- Go to bed by 10pm.*
From an Ayurvedic perspective, following this dinacharya will reconnect you with the rhythms of nature. (5)
For instance, exercising is most optimal in the morning, between 6am and 10am, (9) when the body is in its kapha phase and at its strongest physically.
Eating the largest meal of the day at lunchtime aligns with the pitta time of day, from 10am until 2pm, when the digestive fire is strongest. (8)
Between 2pm and 6pm, which is the vata time of day, the nervous system is most active, so it is beneficial during this time to do calming, centering activities such as mental work and meditation. (5)
To experience a complete Ayurvedic lifestyle, try our 28-Day Ayurveda Challenge, (6) an online eCourse where you receive a new Ayurvedic challenge each day for 28 days, including articles, tips, and videos – it is a program that has the power to truly renovate your life and enrich your health and vitality.
What are ways that you incorporate the practices from the Ayurvedic dinacharya into your everyday life?