You may not be aware of it, but our bodies are a part of nature. Humans are a microscopic of the greater macroscopic universe. Perhaps you’re one of those in-tune beings who are naturally in the flow of things, but most of need a bit of knowledge and fine-tuning. Being aligned with nature means being aligned with the seasons and time of day and very effortlessly living your life and activities around that. In nature, winter balance summer, night balances day, rest balances play.
According to Ayurveda, the oldest health system in the world today, the environment and our bodies are made of the three governing energies that interplay all the time.
They are called doshas and everything we do in life affects their balance within us:
Vata governs movement. Movement in the body, mind and universe. It’s cold, dry, light, and continually moving like the wind and most dominant in autumn and early winter. Inside of us, it is connected to the nervous system and anywhere there is bodily motion—even our thoughts.
Pitta is like the sun and governs digestion, metabolism and transformation of food into nutrients. It’s warm and hot, oily, light and sharp like a fire and most dominant in summer. Pitta is important for healthy blood and skin. Sharp thinking is also a pitta function.
Kapha governs stability or structure. It’s cold, heavy, grounded, dense and slow just like early spring. Physiology it is connected to the structure, strength, fat content and moistness of the body.
These energies also make up the time of day:
Between 2am and 6am and 2pm and 6pm is Vata time.
Between 10am and 2pm and 10pm and 2pm is Pitta time.
Between 6am and 10am and 6pm and 10pm is Kapha time.
So how can you “ride natures waves” in your daily activities and routines? Here’s how:
According to Ayurveda, the morning is an important part of the day and best time to cleanse your body and mind of all the toxins and waste. Rise in Vata time, between 2am and 6am, or before sunrise to do your morning routine. Overnight, the body is working to detoxify and digest all that is has accumulated the day before so waking up during this time will ensure easy removal of wastes (i.e. bowel movement) which should be as soon as you wake up. It is also when the environment is quiet and pure, making it the perfect time to practice meditation as Vata also governs the mind and nervous system.
Within the first few minutes of waking, it’s also important to gently scrape your tongue (as weird as that sounds) with a copper tongue scraper. You’ll find if you go and look at your tongue as soon as you wake up there will be a thick white coating (gross, I know!) that is nothing but toxins that need to be scraped away.
After this, drink plenty of warm water to flush out toxins, ensure smooth running of the digestive system and re-hydrate after sleep.
Other common Ayurvedic morning detoxification practices that are ideal to do include oiling pulling, where you literally swish sesame oil in your mouth to pull out toxins in the mouth. Self-massage using medicated oils is another practice for daily mind-body detoxication and to ensure all-day protection from the external environment.
Any exercise or physical labour is best done in Kapha time (6-10, either morning or night) as this is when muscular and structural strength naturally increases. As Kapha is heavy and dense, we want to offset the laziness and lethargy that can often be in the body during this time by bringing intensity, stimulation and sweat. The best exercise is walking (especially in nature), swimming and yoga!
Ideally you want to eat a light breakfast after exercising and showering. Favour hot milk if you need something beforehand. Showering should never be done after you have just eaten as it causes blood and energy to flow to the skin when it is needed in the gut to aid digestion.
Ayurveda has strong emphasis on eating your biggest meal of the day at lunch time. Between 10am and 2pm is Pitta time, and Pitta governs digestion and transformation. Imagine your stomach to being like the sun or fire, it’s going to be burning the largest in the middle part of the day when the sun is high. Always favour warm, cooked foods as opposed to raw and cold foods and drinks as they will only put the fire out and be harder on digestion.
Dinner should be light, and no later than 7pm. Favour vegetables, kitcheree’s or just boiled milk if you’re not hungry over heavy foods like meat, cheese and bread. These are best taken at lunch as they are heavier on the digestive tract and can be a cause for weight problems if eaten in the evening.
Do you find you are more focused and sharp during Pitta time (10-2 in morning and evening)? It’s a great time to plan meetings and get s*** done. It explains why a lot of people have second-wind at 10pm and start working as well! Do you find you are more creative in the afternoon? That’s because Vata is the creative dosha. It’s
when ideas happen, the mind start to imagine, so if you’re an artist this is your peak time to perform. If you suffer problems of the mind such as anxiety and stress, this is again the best time to meditate, get out nature, or book in for an Ayurvedic treatment.
Aim to be in wind-down mode by 9pm and asleep by 10pm and leaving any electronics outside of the bedroom. During 10pm and 2pm it is important to be asleep as this is when the body does a lot of the detoxing and repairing—especially the liver which is the body’s major pitta organ.
Enjoy a warm cup of milk with added herbs an hour or so before bed. Try adding turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron or ghee to milk to assist in repairing sleep.
Massaging warm sesame seed oil on the soles of your feet also assists in a more restful sleep.
Don’t stress if you don’t follow this. Ayurveda is not meant to be a life sentence, but more a natural and healthier way to keep yourself healthy, cleansed and to prevent getting sick.
Narissa Moeller is an Ayurvedic lifestyle consultant, therapist and writer. Her focus is primarily on health prevention through diet and lifestyle, herbal medicine, treatments and detoxification programs. Visit nmayurveda.com.au for more.