Establishing a supportive daily routine is a crucial part of the Ayurvedic lifestyle, and it can be a game-changer when kapha is provoked. Our physiology is very much adapted to—and supported by—a sense of routine. Kapha is naturally heavy and dense, so when it is elevated, we are very likely to feel heavy, congested, unmotivated, and lethargic. Our minds may be unclear or foggy, and we might struggle with finding the discipline to stick with our commitments. A daily routine can be potent medicine for balancing these tendencies because it automates some of our most essential self-care practices. And as an added benefit, the most supportive kapha-pacifying routine will leave plenty of room for spontaneity as well.
In fact, following an Ayurvedic daily routine does not ever mean that you should schedule every moment of every day. Instead, it’s about creating consistency with a handful of habits that are repeated each day at similar times. This invites the body to relax into a sense of habit around the things that will offer the most support to your overall well-being. While the traditional Ayurvedic daily routine could easily require several hours, we recommend that you start with a few simple commitments—things like exercising regularly, going to bed and getting up at the same times each day, eating your meals at roughly the same times daily, and taking some time for self-love every day. Below, you’ll find a number of ideas and suggestions. They are nothing more. Please keep it simple at first. You can always expand your routine once the initial elements become second nature to you.
Your Evening Routine
Where kapha is concerned, the evening habits are essential in that they can make or break your daily routine the following day. Choosing to be intentional about the flow of your evening ensures that your day ends with devoted self-care, that you set yourself up to get adequate rest, and that you will be less likely to oversleep or awaken groggy the next morning.
Create an Evening Self-Care Ritual
A sense of routine can be built around even the most mundane aspects of the day. What makes a routine distinct is that we do it consistently and use it as a means of habituating ourselves to supportive self-care practices. To this end, take a few minutes to pamper yourself before bed. Doing so has the potential to bolster your sense of self-worth and will likely improve your overall well-being as well.
Your evening ritual need not be complicated. In fact, it will most likely consist of hygiene and self-care practices that are already quite familiar to you. Still, the more you can embrace a sense of ritual, and infuse it with nurturing self-love, the better. Be mindful of keeping your ritual simple and doable—especially at first—and follow your own inner guidance around what to include. Consider any or all of the following, alongside any additions that would feel luxuriant to you:
- Take triphala. About half an hour before bed, take 2 Triphala tablets to nourish and rejuvenate the tissues, support the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms, and to encourage proper digestion and elimination.
- Brush your teeth. Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of good oral hygiene, which Western medicine has firmly linked to our overall health.
- Floss your teeth. Evening is a great time for this daily oral hygiene essential.
- Wash your face. Make this an act of love and devotion to yourself.
- Apply moisturizer to your face, body, or both. Remember not to rush through your practices, but to do them with deep reverence.
- Massage your feet, scalp, or both with oil. This Ayurvedic practice helps to calm the mind and ground the energy before sleep. You may use your recommended herbal oil, Kapha Massage Oil.
- Practice Bhramari Pranayama. This yogic breathing practice helps to quiet the mind and connect us with our truest inner nature, which can be highly beneficial before sleep. Brhamari also supports fluidity and clarity in the sinuses, throat, and lungs—helping to clear them of any stagnation. Even five minutes can be very beneficial.
Honor Your Bedtime
Next, choose a bedtime and stick with it as best you can. Receiving adequate rest at consistent times will help to prevent an over-indulgence in sleep. You may also want to think about what time you will be waking up daily. When kapha is provoked, we recommend that you budget no more than eight hours for sleep (possibly less), and you will likely benefit tremendously if you awaken before 6 a.m., so plan accordingly.
If you tend to have trouble sleeping or if you frequently sleep too much, you will find additional resources and suggestions in our Ayurvedic Guide to Balanced Sleep.
Your Morning Routine
The first step in creating a morning routine is to choose a consistent time to wake up—ensuring that you get adequate rest without over-sleeping. Because the atmosphere is infused with kapha-provoking qualities from 6–10 a.m., it can be very clarifying and invigorating to commit to waking up prior to 6 a.m. If this feels like a stretch for you, try gradually adjusting your wake time, waking up fifteen minutes earlier than you do now for a few days and then shifting the time earlier every few days (in fifteen minute increments), until you reach your desired wake time. Once you are rising before 6 a.m., stick with it for a solid week or two to see how you feel.
Upon waking, it is best to begin the day by taking care of your personal hygiene. We’ve included the most kapha-pacifying Ayurvedic hygiene practices below. But remember, you do not have to commit to doing all of them.
- Eliminate. Ayurveda recommends that we eliminate upon waking every day. If you are not already in the habit of having a bowel movement first thing each morning, simply relaxing on the toilet for a few minutes can encourage the body to develop a sense of regularity. Cleaning the tongue and drinking warm water (see below) will also support this habit.
- Clean your tongue. In Ayurveda, scraping your tongue with a metal Tongue Cleaner is considered as indispensable as brushing your teeth. Doing so gently cleanses and awakens the digestive system for the day. It also removes accumulated toxins and bacteria from the tongue that can contribute to foul-smelling breath. If you are new to this practice, please see our resource on How to Clean Your Tongue.
- Brush your teeth. Again, good oral hygiene is intricately linked to our overall health. Take your time with this practice, and be gentle.
- Nasal Rinse. Using a Neti Pot to rinse the nasal passages moistens the mucus membranes while clearing out dust, dirt, pollen, and excess mucus. This practice is highly kapha-pacifying and you may even notice that your mind is clearer as a result. If this practice is new to you, please see our helpful resource on performing a Nasal Rinse. If you find that your nasal passages feel dry afterwards, you can use your pinky finger to lubricate the nostrils with a bit of Ghee when you’re finished, or at another time of day (i.e. as part of your evening self-care ritual).
- Drink warm water. Drinking 1–4 cups of warm (or hot) water after your oral hygiene routine helps to stimulate and gently awaken the digestive tract, hydrate the tissues, and also promotes peristalsis—which can encourage a healthy morning bowel movement.
A successful and supportive daily routine is all about consistency and finding what is feasible for you. After all, this is your routine! Try integrating one new practice every week, building your daily routine over time. Use this weekly check list to get inspired and help you stick to your goals, but remember to stay flexible and listen to the needs of your body.
Even more impactful than your morning hygiene practices is the energy with which your day begins. Taking a few minutes to stimulate and awaken the mind and body first thing in the morning can literally change your life. This is an extensive list of suggestions, but again, the idea is not necessarily to do all of these practices. In fact, committing to just one or two invigorating practices is often a perfect place to start, and can make a world of difference in how you experience the rest of your day.
- Morning exercise. One of the best things you can do to balance kapha is to get the body moving first thing in the morning. This does not have to be your full daily work-out. Even an invigorating series of Sun Salutations, a few minutes of jumping on a trampoline, or a short brisk walk can do the trick. The idea is to shake off any lingering sluggishness and activate the metabolic system early in the day. If you’re too sluggish to exercise immediately upon waking, consider ten to fifteen minutes of pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) first.
- Pranayama. Yogic breathwork is a potent means of balancing both the mind and the physical body. If you are new to pranayama, start with Full Yogic Breath. Once that feels comfortable, Bhastrika (Bellows Breath) and Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath) are both deeply kapha-pacifying because they support invigorating the mind, cleansing the tissues, and stimulating the digestive fire.
- Meditation or prayer. Now that you’re awake, consider a few minutes of centering prayer or meditation. Take this time to connect with the subtle energies of the cosmos that are more accessible in the early morning hours. If you have an established practice, feel free to stick with that. If you are new to meditation, try So Hum Meditation.
- Massage your body with dry powder. At least once a week, before a shower or bath, vigorously massage your entire body with soft, exfoliating powders (like chickpea or rice flour). This practice stimulates the movement of the lymph, improves circulation, liquefies fat, supports skin health, and strengthens the tone of bodily tissues. This is also a wonderful way to remove excess oil, whenever you choose to do a full-body massage with Kapha Massage Oil.
- Digestive herbs. About twenty minutes before breakfast, take 2 Kapha Digest tablets to help balance agni (the digestive fire) and encourage proper digestion. You might also add several drops of Ginger liquid extract to your morning tea to simulate the digestive fire for the day.
- Light breakfast. Complete your morning with a light but nutritious and healthy breakfast. Starting your day with a light, satisfying meal will help to reinforce the kapha-pacifying energies with which you’ve started your day.
Throughout the Rest of Your Day
Though morning and evening are the most important places to focus your attention when you are first establishing a daily routine, there are a few other things to be mindful of as you navigate your day.
Prioritize Movement and Exercise
Because appropriate exercise is one of the most fundamentally kapha-pacifying activities around, committing to regular (ideally daily) exercise is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves when kapha is high. Even fifteen to thirty minutes per day can be life-changing. Any exercise will be supportive, but to maximize the benefit, follow the principles of the Kapha-Pacifying Approach to Fitness, and consider including the following in your daily or weekly routine:
- Vigorous exercise. The best forms of exercise for kapha are vigorous and challenging but also inspiring and fun. The best time of day to exercise is when kapha predominates the atmosphere, between 6–10 a.m. and p.m. If this time-frame doesn’t work with your schedule, any time of day will do. Almost any type of exercise will balance kapha, provided you engage with it at a level that is appropriately challenging for you.
- Yoga. Kapha-Pacifying Yoga will also be very supportive because it fosters activating, upward-moving energies in the body, favors invigorating flows, and emphasizes consistent movement as well as purposeful muscular engagement. Focus on lifting the eyes and the heart, engaging and including the arms, opening the chest, and avoiding too much stability in the postures themselves.
Eat Your Meals at Consistent Times
Make sure that you eat nutritious and healthy meals at consistent times each day in order to reduce your temptation to snack. Eating regularly actually helps to strengthen the digestive fire as well. Take one or two of your recommended digestive herbal tablets, Kapha Digest, about twenty minutes before each meal. You may also elect to take Ginger liquid extract before meals to support digestion. When you sit down to eat, make a practice of giving your full attention to your meal. Taking in the full sensory experience and being mindful of receiving nourishment can increase your level of satisfaction and reduce tendencies to over-eat or snack too soon after meals.
Make Room for Spontaneity
Because excess kapha can cause us to be unmotivated and lethargic, it can sometimes feel like we’re living life in a very predictable rut. You can proactively counter this tendency by intentionally choosing to break the monotony of a typical day as often as possible. Be willing to follow your inspiration, say yes to random opportunities for adventure, and make time for lightness and fun. You will likely discover this practice to be even more supportive if you make it a social experience that you share with friends and loved ones.
Be sure to establish times to take the formulas in your Kapha Balancing Bundle, as well as any herbs you might be taking to manage more specific conditions. If you are unsure when to take your different herbs, here are some useful suggestions:
- Rejuvenating herbs and formulas. Take Healthy Kapha upon waking.
- Digestive herbs and formulas. Take digestive formulas like Kapha Digest and Ginger liquid extract about twenty minutes before meals.
- Triphala. Take this formula about half an hour before bed.
- Other therapeutic herbs and formulas. Take these after meals.
Herbs can only support us effectively if we take them regularly, so the most important thing is to actually take your herbs. If you forget, take them whenever you remember. Please keep in mind that consistency is far more important than the timing of when you take what. Ultimately, the most important thing is to create an herbal regimen that will work for you on a consistent basis, even if it means you do something different than what is suggested above.
Make This Doable
Following a kapha-pacifying daily routine can truly be a turning point in your path toward balance. This is about making a meaningful commitment to your own well-being. Remember to keep it simple—especially at first. Start with a few consistent touchstones throughout each day, work with those for a couple of weeks, and then re-assess your capacity to stick with them. At first, you may actually find that you need to simplify even further in order to be successful. You can always expand your routine as the initial elements you commit to become second nature. Until then, it is far better to set yourself up for incremental successes than to over-commit and give up. When you are ready to deepen your commitment to self-care, we have a far more comprehensive resource on creating an ideal Ayurvedic Kapha-Pacifying Daily Routine. But please establish a foundational routine for yourself first. Even a minimalistic routine can offer profound benefits that you will notice every day. So embrace simplicity, celebrate your commitment to self-care, find supportive ways to hold yourself accountable, and enjoy easing yourself into a sense of routine.