Yesterday we discussed and researched what the Ayurvedic practices of dinacharya are, as well as the benefits of adding this regular routine to your daily life. We discovered that dinacharya is a daily routine developed to ensure proper hygiene and dosha balance in the human body.
A daily routine invites health, vitality, and a sense of clarity into our lives. Adopting an appropriate daily routine is undoubtedly one of the most grounding and nurturing things you could do for yourself, and while the concept of having a daily routine is at the heart of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, no single prescription is right for everyone. So imagine yourself now as your own healer; realize that the general template I am providing can and should be adapted to meet the needs of each individual’s (your) constitution and current state of balance. And that’s the beauty of it, because the right daily routine can dramatically improve your life.
Keep in mind that it takes some time to establish a habit or new routine, so be gentle with yourself if you miss a day. Just come back to the routine the next day. The benefits of dinacharya to your health and wellbeing are immense, so it’s worth putting your time and attention on developing a nurturing balancing routine for your self.
In the last blog post we explored a few practices contained within a morning dinacharya routine. Today we will explore the options available within an evening dinacharya routine. Tomorrow we will dive further into the details, applications, and benefits of jala neti, abhyanga, and mindful-meditation.
The evening routine is critically important because it lays the foundation for success with the morning routine. An evening routine can be as simple as establishing a consistent dinnertime and bedtime. Or, it can incorporate a few simple practices. Here are some healthy habits to consider adding to your evening routine.
Twilight Dimming: As the sun goes down, lower the lights in your home to signal to body and mind that the frenetic pace of the day’s activities is coming to an end—and that it’s time to stop being “on.” According to modern Ayurvedic experts, that means minimizing screen time on your electronic devices for at least an hour before bed, too. Wind down by reading something uplifting or spending time with your family or friends.
Stick to A Consistent Dinner Time: Ideally, we would eat dinner early enough that our food has time to move completely out of the stomach before we go to bed. This means allowing your body a minimum of 2-3 hours between dinner and bedtime. It may also mean eating a lighter dinner than we might otherwise be accustomed to. These practices allow for proper digestion, prevent the unnecessary accumulation of toxins, and support healthy sleep patterns.
Take Triphala: Triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic formula comprised of three fruits that are balancing for vata, pitta, and kapha. It is revered for its unique ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the digestive tract while replenishing, nourishing, and rejuvenating the tissues. About half an hour before bed, steep ½ teaspoon triphala powder in a cup of freshly boiled water for 10 minutes. Cool and drink. Or, take 2 triphala tablets with a glass of warm water.
By the way... anytime you see a green word that is typically underlined, it's a link to further information. Feel free to click. Also, you can use the search box up in the top, right corner of this website to search for keywords, such as "triphala", to see if I have written anything else about it, such as a review or blog. Sometimes I don't always include the green links in the current blog post, so you might give it a shot if you're unsure of the meaning of a word :)
Create a Brief “Bedtime Routine”
The idea here is to create a simple series of events that helps to signal your body that the day is winding down and that you will be going to sleep soon. This practice can be incredibly helpful in supporting our ability to surrender to sleep. It is important that these activities be consistent from one day to the next. A bedtime routine might include things like:
- Brushing the teeth
- Washing the face
- Applying oil to the feet and scalp
- Other soothing, quieting activities that appeal to you
Note: Reading in bed is not recommended, as it disrupts the desired association between being in bed and sleeping. If you like to read before bed, designate a specific place – other than your bed – and enjoy. But keep in mind that reading before bed can be quite stimulating to the eyes and the mind, which can disrupt healthy sleep patterns. If you tend to struggle with disturbed sleep, you might want to try giving up your bedtime book for a while to see if you notice a difference in your quality of sleep.
Soothe: There are several marma points, or Ayurvedic pressure points, on the foot that correspond to the entire body. Doing a foot massage, can relax the entire body in just a few minutes. I will write more about marma points in the future if you're interested in learning about them. Just let me know by leaving a comment below this blog on the Blessed Yoga Facebook Page or below the blog post on the Blessed Yoga Website.
Wash and dry your feet. Apply warmed, organic, cold-pressed sesame oil to one foot at a time, using your palms to rub the sole from heel to toe in small circular motions. Repeat on the top of the foot. Massage the ankle, followed by the sides of the foot. Interlace your fingers between your toes, gently push the foot to flex and point, and make clockwise and counterclockwise circles. Beginning with the little toe, rub each toe gently, and apply a little pressure in the webbing. Finally, pull each toe slightly, rub either lavender (soothing) or vetiver (grounding) essential oil into the sole of the foot and then put on clean cotton socks to sleep in.
Savor: Before bed, heat a cup of organic whole milk until it boils. Add a pinch of ground cardamom, nutmeg (spices that, in Ayurveda, are said to promote sleep), and cinnamon (to aid digestion). Let it cool a bit and add honey to taste. Warm whole milk is used in Ayurveda as an insomnia remedy. Don't drink milk? Sip chamomile, valerian, or lemon balm tea.
Place your right thumb over your right nostril to close the airway. Inhale through the left nostril, and then use your ring finger to close off the left nostril. Lift your thumb, and exhale out of the right nostril. Breathing in through the right nostril and putting your thumb over your right nostril again, exhale out of your left nostril. This completes a single round; try to do 5 to 10 rounds per sitting. This practice helps you transition from activity to stillness.
Establish a Consistent Bedtime: The trick here is to be consistent. Having predictable sleep and wake times helps our bodies naturally attune to a daily rhythm. It is often helpful to work backward from your desired wake time and establish a sleep time that ensures that you get enough rest each night without being excessive. This is a beautiful way for us to honor our need for sleep and to ensure that an appropriate amount of rest is built into each day.
Other Considerations That May Alter Your Routine
You may also find that there is good reason to deviate occasionally from this traditional tri-doshic routine.
Seasonal Adjustments: Each of the seasons arrives with its own unique personality. We can support an improved state of balance throughout the year by making a conscious effort to live in harmony with the cycles of nature and by making small adjustments in our routines in order to accommodate the arrival of each new season. For more information on how you might adapt your routine as the seasons change, view my Ayurvedic Consultation page and then contact me... or wait for future blogs.
Adjustments for Imbalances: Similarly, if we are dealing with imbalances that do not line up precisely with our constitutions, it is often helpful to adopt a routine that pacifies the dosha(s) that are most aggravated. If you are unsure of your current condition, contact me today and I will help you determine your current dosha. Learn more about this service HERE. If you know your current imbalances and would like to adapt your routine to better support those doshas, let me know and we can create a routine suited just for you.
At the most fundamental level, our physiology is very much adapted to – and supported by – some sense of regularity. Actually, this is precisely why the daily routine is such potent medicine. In effect, having a daily routine offers the grounding, stability, and predictability that are largely absent from our hectic modern lives. The routine itself creates a number of familiar and comforting reference points throughout each day that send a resounding affirmation to the deep tissues of the body that all is well, that we can be at ease. And so, when the body becomes accustomed to – and learns to count on – a daily routine that includes things like adequate rest, appropriate exercise, and a nourishing spiritual practice, the nervous system can finally begin to relax. As a result, a daily routine can elicit profound rejuvenation throughout the body without requiring any conscious awareness of the healing process.
Adopting a daily routine is also a very purposeful and enduring act of self-love. Each day, our routines provide us with a tangible opportunity to prioritize our own health and wellbeing, regardless of what else might be going on in our lives. They quickly become poignant reminders that we are in fact worthy of a healthy dose of loving attention every single day. The cumulative affect of caring for ourselves in this way is quite powerful. And for many, committing to a daily routine results in a greatly improved sense of wellness in a very short period of time.