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I gotta come clean with you if you are starting to get interested in Ayurveda:  it’s not sexy.  There is no wild roller coaster of emotions, no cliffhanger, or dramatic foreshadowing about how it’s all going to turn out.  Ayurveda starts off where “Happily Ever After” leaves us.  In other words, how does life turn out happily, not to mention ever after?

One of the main thrusts of Ayurveda is called the “Dinacharya”, or daily routine.  This routine is meant to be followed every day according to your prominent dosha, and entails what time you wake up, morning ablutions, times for meals, rest, work, socializing, and bedtime.  No matter what, you are meant to rise upon waking, and get to by by 10 pm.  (This is a huge struggle for many of my clients:  some cannot get out of bed before 8 am, some can’t get to bed before 2 am.)

It is hard to convince people that the dinacharya is the cornerstone to good health.  It’s not a “Lose 10 LBS In 1 Week!” kind of sensation, but rather employs a quiet, steady determination.  Consider the analogy:  even though you go to the dentist once or twice a year for a deep cleaning,  you still gotta brush your teeth every single day to have a healthy mouth.  Ayurveda works in the same way- the idea is that if you do many small things every day that are good for you, the result will be one big happy healthy life.  Each positive action you take is one turn of the mighty barge of your life in the right trajectory.

Ayurveda doesn’t just want you healthy NOW, it wants you healthy when you are in your 80s, and just starting to get an idea what life is supposed to be about.  The crux of it is that we are all striving for Enlightenment, but it’s going to take a heck of a long time- lifetimes even- to reach that goal.  Our only hope is to learn enough and expunge enough karma in each lifetime to give us a shot at getting off the wheel. To that end, we need to live to be quite old in each lifetime to get a leg up next time around.  It is common knowledge that we cannot truly embrace spirit when we are diseased or in pain.  Thus, we must keep the body strong, healthy, vital, vibrant.  How?  The Dinacharya. It’s not immediately obvious, but over time, the positive effects are undeniable.

Here is an example of a Dinacharya to keep Vata healthy and in balance:

Make sure you have a schedule for each day- preferably the same one.  Although Vatas love adventure and spontaneity, they really do best with a regular routine.  Wake early and do some gentle stretches or yoga, do some breathing or meditation, and then perform an abhyanga (oiling the body).  Have a warm, hearty breakfast, and then get engaged with the day.  If you can, take plenty of time for a full lunch, and then a stroll around the block.  Use the afternoon to be creative, social, and productive, but give yourself a break for tea in the afternoon to gather yourself.  Without this moment out of your busy day, you can easily crash and feel exhausted by 5-6, right about the time dinner should be prepared.  Dinner should be warm and light, but with plenty of protein.  Lentil soup and steamed greens comes to mind.  Wind up the evening with quiet music, reading, or gentle enjoyable hobbies, and get in bed by 10.  So nice, eh?  One client looked at me incredulously, saying, “Um, this is a schedule for summer camp.”  I know, nobody comes by this schedule easily, but it is something to strive for.

Pittas and Kaphas have approximately the same framework, with more or less vigorous exercise, amount of food, and evening activity level.  That’s it folks: the great secret to living a long and healthy life is moderation, sleep, and eating consciously.  Is it exciting, hip, or hot?  Ehh, not so much.  But when you take this dinacharya into your life, accompanied by the diet that works for your dosha, subtle and powerful health changes start to occur. By relinquishing a stressful and extreme life in the present we receive the greatest boon to any life:  youthfulness in old age.  Friends! when we are very old, we will be oh so very wise.  And what an incredible gift we will give to our future selves to arrive at that place full of joy, health, vibrancy, clarity, and peace.  This is the road map Ayurveda gives us.  Life is going to unfold so beautifully!

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5 responses »

  1. Actually, I would say that there IS something sexy about this…it’s just that we use that term in such a limited way. To me, what’s sexy is being in our vibrancy, our potency, our radiance. Our Life Force. And you’re offering us a way to do that!

    • once again i feel like you’ve taken complex concepts and offered them to your readers in an accessible and engaging way. this is teaching (and preaching – since I just read Aaron’s blog post) at it’s best. i love the idea that routine can be a means to revolution (our own personal one). i’m totally hooked…more more!! 🙂

  2. OK, so I do most of this, except I don’t know exactly what my dosha is (I’ve always been told Vata/Pitta) so I don’t know if I am eating right by it. But the part I need convincing about is the abhyanga. That sounds completely unrealistic in the morning! Do we shower after? Before? Why the oil? Why not at night? I do love the directive to be asleep by 10. My whole life would improve if I did that.
    This post has moved me from the position of wanting a consultation with you to NEEDING a consultation with you. I am going to schedule it today!

  3. “Dinacharya”, that is really I am starting to learn more about because I think it works for me. What are some ways you would suggest to find your Dinacharya, the daily routine that works for you? It seems that some of the principles are that you do your creative work in the afternoon?
    Would love to learn more. Thank you!
    I think my problem with a routine is still that I mix it up with being stuck

  4. Thanks for this post, Brooksley. I’m learning so much more about Ayurveda… I’m finding that I do well with routine, but it is not quite the same every day. And my work/life/emergency calls keep me a little off balance. I really like the idea of striving to be up early and to bed early. Not sure which of the three my Dosha is… I’ll have to think about that.

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