Our Daily Routines and the Daily Cycle of the Doshas
According to Ayurveda, human beings are a part of nature and therefore optimal health means that our internal rhythm be in tune with the nautral cycles in the environment. Human beings have a circadian rhythm as do the other animals in nature. There are daily cycles and seasonal cycles. The cycles of time during the day and night as well as the seasonal changes throughout the year influence the doshas.
When Dr. Simon, co-founder of the Chopra Center, taught us about the daily routines he was fond of saying, “There is really no such thing as a night person, only a person with bad habits.” Electricity which can keep it light 24/7 and 24 hour a day TV, Internet and other stimuli have made it easy to ignore the daily cycles and rhythms of nature.
The Kapha dosha predominates in the morning from 6:00 am until 10:00 am, and from 6:00 pm tuntil 10:00 pm at night. In the morning during this period the body feels slow, heavy relaxed and calm; all of which are qualities of Kapha. In the evening a major source of traffic accidents are people going home from work who fall asleep.
Pitta predominates from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, and then from 10:00 pm until 2:00 am. The period of peak physical activity and appetite occurs at noon, during the middle of the first period of Pitta. Pitta is responsible for metabolizing food and distributing energy throught the body. Pittas need to eat by around 1:00 pm or the fire burns out of control, and then emotions tend to erupt.
Vata dosha predominates from 2:00 am until 6:00 am, and again from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Vata which governs the nervous system, predominates in the late afternoon, during which time mental activities and physical dexterity are most efficient.
The second cycle of the day begins at 6:00 pm with Kapha and its tendency to create a slow, relaxed evening. During the nighttime Pitta period, the body is metabolizing dinner, but since the body is asleep during the 10:00 pm to 2:00 am period, the energy is being converted into warmth and the rebuilding of tissues. The early morning Vata time activates the nervous system in the form of active dream sleep, or REM (Rapid Eye Movement).
According to Ayurveda, synchoninzing you daily routine with the natural daily rhythms enhances health. Waking before dawn during the end of the Vata period allows you to take advantage of the Vata qualities of alertness and energy. Eating your main meal during the noon hour when the Pitta fire is strongest insures strong digestion. Going to bed by 10:00 pm at the end of the Kapha period takes advantage of the slow, dull Kapha qualitiies and encourages sound sleep.
2 am to 6 am – Vata Period
Nature is awakening at this time of day. Get up by 6:00 am and no later than 7:00. Most dreaming occurs in this period. Get up and meditate with the alertness of Vata. During this period of movement, toxins get moved into the elimination tiessues & channels of the body you can get rid of them when you get up.
6 am to 10 am – Kapha Period
This is a heavier period of the day. If you stay in bed for too long you will feel dull and heavier. If you experiences stiffness in the joints, it will help you to get moving before the Kapha period begins. Eat a lighter breakfast, and this is the best time of the day to do vigerous, heavy physical exercise. It is also the best time to take chemotherapy, because at this time of the day the healthy cells are at their least active; cancer cells are over-active all of the time.
10 am to 2 pm – Pitta Period
This is the warmest time of the day and the sun is at its highest. Digestion (Agni) is it’s strongest at this time. Many cultures used to take a rest during this time of the day to keep from over-heating. This is the best time of the day to eat your main meal.
2 pm to 6 pm – Vata Period
During this Vata period you will be more light and alert. This should be a period that we are mentally alert, fresh, and creative. It is a good time to meditate. If you tend to experience that mid-afternoon slump, look for what may be out of balance.
6 pm to 10 pm – Kapha Period
This is a slwer, heavier time of the day. Animals quiet down, the sun sets and dark sets in. Take advantale of the quietness. Use this time to go to bed by 10:00. To stay in tune with the circadian rhythm go to bed between 9:30 and 11:00 pm at the lastest. Eat a light evening meal early in this period, from 6-7 pm.
10 pm – 2 am – Pitta Period
Pittas wake hot and throw off the covers. We will get hungry again if we are awake, and it may cause you to raid the refrigerator at night. Often pittas gain weight by eating late at night. Most people will notice a dip in energy around 10:00 pm. If you sleep during this time, agni metabolizes at this time. The body rids itself of toxins during heavy sleep.
When I spent time at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastary, I noted the monks kept their daily routines in line with these daily cycles. They were up by 4:00 am for the first service of the day of chanting and meditation, a second service at 8:00 am. Then in the evening another service at 4:00 pm, and the last one of the day, just before retiring was at 8:00 pm.
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