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Ayurveda Basics | The Ayurvedic Clock

Ayurveda means the science of life. Ayurveda originated in India about 5000 years ago as the sister to Yoga. At the time, yoga was primarily meditation, with asana (the movements) to strengthen and stretch the body, to support it in sitting for more meditation. Ayurveda was everything else…our individual constitutions, diets, healthy habits, etc. More than just what we eat, Ayurveda stresses that we are part of nature and therefore it teaches us to live in rhythm with the day, with the seasons, and within our lifespan.

I have been sharing some of the concepts of Ayurveda and today I wanted to focus on the Ayurvedic Clock. Ayurveda is based on the idea of living in sync with Mother Nature. One of the easiest ways to do this is to focus on our daily rhythm.

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3 Doshas

I explained the Doshas in a previous video, but to recap:

The 3 Doshas are made up of various combinations of the 5 elements. Dosha is defined as "each of three energies that circulate in the body and govern physiological activity".

Vata is the combination of Ether and Air. Therefore, Vata energy is dry, cold, light, rough, subtle, and mobile.

Pitta is mostly Fire with a dash of Water. Therefore, Pitta energy is oily, hot, sharp, light, and liquid.

Kapha is the combination of Water and Earth. Therefore, Kapha energy is oily, cold, heavy, slow, and smooth.

Each dosha is related to a certain time of day.

The Daily Rhythm | Ayurvedic Clock

Every 12 hours we cycle through the 3 Dosha energies.

blue background with a clock and the words ayurvedic clock

6am - 10am: Kapha

Start with a light, easy-to-digest breakfast. Your body is just waking up and the energy of Kapha is heavy and slow. Therefore, you probably want to avoid a big, heavy breakfast.

The early Kapha time is the perfect time to do some physical work.

10am - 2pm: Pitta

The sun is at its peak height and your digestion is in high gear. Make your mid-day meal the biggest, most complex meal of the day. Mental focus is high during Pitta times, so this is also a great time to work on tasks that require focus and attention.

2pm - 6pm: Vata

Your metabolism is still chugging along, so depending on how early you ate lunch, you might want to enjoy a light snack early in the Vata time period (but avoid sugar and caffeine). While focus and attention are likely waning, this is the perfect time for your creative endeavors.

6pm is the perfect time for a light supper. Focus on keeping it simple. Think soup or salad or a smaller version of what you had for lunch.

6pm - 10pm: Kapha

This time of day we are back to the heavy, slow, yet strong energy of Kapha. This is the perfect time to be physical again. Maybe play with the kids in the backyard or go for a nice walk after supper. The idea is to bring lightness and movement to burn off any remaining energy and leave you tired for dinner. But keep it calm, as excessive exercise or competition can amp you up and make falling asleep later feel impossible.

At the end of Kapha time, slow down and unwind. Use the heavy, slow energy to prepare for sleep.

10pm - 2am: Pitta

Be in bed and asleep before this Pitta time kicks in. This is a time of deep sleep when the body is transforming nutrients, detoxing the body, healing cells, and storing memories. Important bodily functions are happening while you are sleeping.

If you don't fall asleep early enough, you are likely to feel that fiery energy as a burst of energy (aka second wind). Once that happens you are wide awake and you miss out on all the benefits of deep sleep!

2am - 6am: Vata

As the energy gets lighter and more energetic, so does our sleep. A couple hours into Vata we begin to wake up. Ideally, you want to wake up during this Vata time, setting aside a small window of time here for a slow and easy morning routine (stretching, meditation, self-care). If you oversleep into the next Kapha cycle, you will likely find the heavy, slow energy of Kapha leaves you feeling groggy and lethargic.

Where to Start

If you read the previous section and thought, "Wow, that's not how I roll", then I invite you to consider picking just one change to begin to incorporate. We all know that attempting a complete lifestyle overhaul never works out. Maybe you like the idea of carving out time for lunch, so you begin to make that your biggest meal of the day and keep dinner lighter. Or maybe you are always tired, so getting to bed between 9:30-10:00 sounds like the best for you. Start with the one habit that speaks to you or the one that would be the easiest to implement.

Once you get one change under your belt, move on to another. You will likely never have this rhythm completely in place 365 days of the year, and that's okay. Do what you can. Don't let perfection be the enemy of good.

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