Circadian Rhythms of Ayurveda
Aligning with the circadian rhythms of nature can greatly improve one’s life. As you connect with this rhythm, you discover how to use each cycle to assist your energy in moving through the day. This decreases resistance that eventually causes concerns such as fatigue, mood disorders, blood sugar imbalances, sleep disruptions and other chronic ailments that manifest from irregular lifestyle habits. Honoring our rhythm with nature is a deep form of self love, self respect and assists us in moving through life with ease. Time is one thing we cannot buy back, it is truly invaluable. It's not just about what we eat, products we use, workouts we do, all essentials but well being is a cumulative effect of everything we choose to dedicate ourselves and our time to everyday and it’s effects on our innate rhythm, mind body connection.
Do you notice any times during the day that are usually smooth sailing or anywhere that creates resistance? How does your schedule compare with the natural cycles of the day? Are you harnessing the energy of or swimming up stream against the rhythms of nature? Connecting to the cycles of the day is a lifestyle practice bound to create more ease in life so I’ve shared below the doshic cycles of the day and ways to connect with each.
6am - 10am Kapha. Earth and Water. Kapha cycles are heavier and slower, which create a grogginess and resistance to awakening so opt to rise before this cycle begins. Create stimulation and movement in the body during this time to heighten the energy for the rest of your day. Eat a warm and stimulating ayurvedic breakfast to get your agni/digestive fire and metabolism energized for the day. Avoid cold breakfasts.
10am - 2pm Pitta. Fire. Transformation. Metabolism. Eat your largest meal and get the most intense workloads of the day complete if possible. Make lunch your largest meal, preferably noon to 1pm when sun is highest. This is the strongest energy of the day and digestion becomes most powerful. If you opt for any cold meals such as salads, smoothies and acai bowls, this is the time of the day to consume them since you have nature’s energy of the sun assisting you with digestion. Cold foods always take the most energy to digest.
2pm - 6pm Vata. Air and Ether. Creativity. If you tend to get restless (that is Vata energy creating movement), take a walk, get grounded in nature, do a 5 min pranayama, make a cup of tea, whatever you do, get grounded in the intention of doing so. If you tend to fatigue, hydrate and opt for a light, energizing snack. If you find yourself craving sweets, carbs, or caffeine, make lunch larger. Use this energy to get creative work done and if needed, create your to-do list for the next day so your mind is clear, you get your thoughts out and you can begin winding down during the following cycle of Kapha.
6pm - 10pm Kapha. Earth and Water. Light dinner, relax, wind down. Keep dinners and snacks light, as digestion slows during Kapha. Ideally, digestion should be complete by the late evening, 7pm, to assist our energy in slowing down and preparing for rest. Melatonin naturally increases during this cycle so try to avoid vigorous exercise past 7pm as well. Turn in by 10pm to maximize the slower energy of kapha and resist the second wind that can be brought on by the following Pitta cycle.
10pm - 2am Pitta. Fire. Transformation and digestion. The body is repairing, detoxifying. the liver is metabolizing and the mind is digesting all emotions and experiences from the day. Eating heavy meals and snacks later in the evening can disrupt this cycle and our natural detoxification process.
2am - 6am Vata. Air and Ether. Rise during late Vata cycle (5:30-6am) to harness Vata’s creative energy and use it’s light, energetic qualities to move into your day before Kapha cycle begins. The early morning Vata cycle is an ethereal energy, a powerful time for mediation, prayer and creativity. Even if just for a few minutes, opt to dedicate time daily to connect to this celestial energy of dawn and energy of the sunrise.
So what to do if your schedule is the complete opposite, you work a night shift, the kids have evening activities, etc, etc. Lifestyle changes don't happen over night and that is ok, but they start somewhere. Honoring simple practices daily is what leads to massive change in lifestyle. Starting can be as simple as waking up 30 minutes earlier, winding down an hour earlier for rest or taking an afternoon walk. Or maybe it’s the more challenging aspects of reality like getting out of that non-serving relationship or job, saying no and not over committing your time in order to create more space in the day for harmony. It’s about being mindful of the natural energies we live within and that live within us. As you honor your connection with nature, you automatically create space for healing and the things you truly desire in life.