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Ayurvedic dinacharya, concept of daily schedule for healthy life.

I have had a few patients suffering from headaches, fatigue, upset stomach going from one medicine to other, and the only thing that they needed to do was to sleep before 10 pm , drink water and eat breakfast in the morning at consistent time. It is amazing what getting the body on schedule can do for us. This is what is called as Dinacharya in Ayurveda.

“Dinacharya’’ which means daily routine is strongly recommended by Ayurveda. Daily routine brings stability in life and can help us get stronger to face changes in life. The changes can be routine changes like changing seasons or significant changes like new job/ marriage/ change of place etc. When the body knows that there is at least some routine that will be followed this can work like a safety blanket. This helps the body get back in the rhythm of the hormone secretions or secretion of digestive juices and other routine bodily functions.

All parents know how important it is to get our kids on schedule. The adult bodies can benefit from similar routine as well. Here is example of Ayurvedic dinacharya adopted from work of Dr. Vasant Lad.

1. Wake Up Early in the Morning

It is good to wake up before the sun rises.

Vata people should get up about 6 a. m,

Pitta people by 5:30 a.m.

Kapha by 4:30 a.m.

Look at your hands for a few seconds , and then gently move them over your face, chest, upto your waist. This cleanses aura.

2. Say a Prayer before Leaving the Bed

Start the day on a positive note. Counting our blessings, think about at least 3 things that you are grateful for today.

3. Clean the Face, Mouth, and Eyes

Splash your face with cold water and rinse out your mouth. Wash your eyes with cool water. Blink your eyes and rotate your eyes in all directions. Dry your face with a clean towel.

Specific eyewashes can be used by people of different prakriti/ constitution

4. Drink Water in the Morning

Then drink a glass of room temperature water, preferably from a pure copper cup filled the night before. This washes the GI tract, flushes the kidneys, and stimulates peristalsis. It is not a good idea to start the day with tea or coffee, as this drains kidney energy, stresses the adrenals, causes constipation, and is habit-forming.

5. Evacuation

Sit, or better squat, on the toilet and have a bowel movement. Improper digestion of the previous night's meal or lack of sound sleep can prevent this. However the water, followed by sitting on the toilet at a set time each day, helps to regulate bowel movements. Alternate nostril breathing may also help.

6. Scrape your Tongue

Gently scrape the tongue from the back forward . Stainless steel scraper can be used by all people.

7. Clean your Teeth

Always use a soft toothbrush and an astringent, pungent, and bitter toothpaste

8. Gargling

Also called as oil pulling. To strengthen teeth, gums, and jaw, improve the voice and remove wrinkles from cheeks, gargle twice a day with warm sesame oil. Hold the oil in your mouth, swish it around vigorously, then spit it out and gently massage the gums with a finger. People allergic to sesame oil coconut oil can be used instead

9. Chewing

Chewing a handful of sesame seeds helps receding gums and strengthens teeth. Alternatively, chew 3-5 dried dates and an inch of dried coconut meat. Chewing in the morning stimulates the liver and the stomach and improves digestive fire. After chewing, brush the teeth again without using toothpaste or powder.

10. Nasal Drops (Nasya)

Putting 3 to 5 drops of warm ghee or oil into each nostril in the morning helps to lubricate the nose, clean the sinuses, and improve voice, vision, and mental clarity. Our nose is the door to the brain, so nose drops nourish prana and bring intelligence.

For vata: sesame oil, ghee, or vacha (calamus) oil. For pitta: brahmi ghee, sunflower or coconut oil. For kapha: vacha (calamus root) oil.

11. Oil Drops in the Ears (Karana purana)

Conditions such as ringing in the ears, excess ear wax, poor hearing, lockjaw, and TMJ, are all due to vata in the ears. Putting 5 drops of warm sesame oil in each ear can help these disorders.

12. Apply Oil to the Head & Body (Abhyanga)

Rub warm oil over the head and body. Gentle, daily oil massage of the scalp can bring happiness, as well as prevent headache, baldness, graying, and receding hairline. Oiling your body before bedtime will help induce sound sleep and keep the skin soft.

For vata use warm sesame oil. For pitta use warm sunflower or coconut oil. For kapha use warm sunflower or mustard oil.

13. Bathing

Bathing is cleansing and refreshing. It removes sweat, dirt, and fatigue, brings energy to the body, clarity to the mind, and holiness to your life.

14. Dressing

Wearing clean clothes brings beauty and virtue.

15. Use of Perfumes

Using natural scents, essential oils, or perfumes brings freshness, charm, and joy. It gives vitality to the body and improves self-esteem.

For vata the best scent to use is heena or amber. For pitta try using khus, sandalwood, or jasmine. For kapha use either amber or musk.

16. Exercise

Regular exercise, especially yoga, improves circulation, strength, and endurance. It helps one relax and have sound sleep, and improves digestion and elimination. Exercise daily to half of your capacity, which is until sweat forms on the forehead, armpits, and spine.

Vata: Sun salutation x 12, done slowly; Leg lifting; Camel; Cobra; Cat; Cow. Slow, gentle exercise. Pitta: Moon salutation x 16, moderately fast; Fish; Boat; Bow. Calming exercise. Kapha: Sun salutation x 12, done rapidly; Bridge; Peacock; Palm tree; Lion. Vigorous exercise.

17. Pranayama

After exercise, sit quietly and do some deep breathing exercises as follows:

12 alternate nostril breaths for vata; 16 cooling shitali breaths (curling up your tongue lengthwise and breathing through it) for pitta; 100 bhastrika (short, fast breaths) for kapha.

18. Meditation

It is important to meditate morning and evening for at least 15 minutes. Meditate in the way you are accustomed, or try the "Empty Bowl Meditation". Meditation brings balance and peace into your life.

19. Now it is time for your breakfast!

Your meal should be light in the hot months or if your digestive strength is low, and more substantial in the cold or with strong digestion power or agni. Please check the post on agni to understand the concept of agni.

Of course, this is a very detailed dinacharya and can take upto an hour or so. So, starting small and choosing just one or two activities can still be helpful for the body.

Here are some links to some of the practices described in this post

1. Abhyanga/ oil massage

2. Coconut oil pulling

3. Ear oiling

4. tongue cleaning

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