Leverage These 7 Small Daily Practices to Make Big Shifts
In today’s world of intersecting challenges, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, defeated, or fatigued. It can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to supporting ourselves in feeling good in body and mind—let alone confronting systemic challenges such as overwork, inequity, stress, pollution, and climate change.
But there is relief to be found in the reality that we can start small.
As social justice facilitator adrienne maree brown* says, "What we practice at the small scale sets the pattern for the whole system." She notes that our personal lives are "a front line, a place where we can practice justice, liberation, and alignment with each other and the planet."
Designing a Meaningful Daily Rhythm with Ayurveda
Ayurveda provides a system for structuring and implementing these simple, small-scale practices, bringing a unique recognition to the way we know ourselves and design our lives. By illuminating a web of interconnection and balance, Ayurveda offers an opportunity to find meaning in our day to day lives, and a framework for living with intention and purpose.
This ancient science of life offers key practices that leverage the rhythms and elements of nature to build well-being and resilience.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, this means that committing to a consistent daily routine that honors the doshas and includes small, sustainable practices, can help pattern personal and collective resiliency.
We may not be able to directly control the world around us, but we can create some measure of order in our own lives through “slow, iterative, repeating attempts,” thereby making space for the natural order of robust life to emerge.
According to Ayurveda, aligning our daily habits with the cyclical rhythms of nature can support and empower the changes we seek. Here are a few suggestions to begin creating a simple but powerful daily routine.
7 Small and Consistent Practices to Build a Powerful Daily Routine
1. Wake up around 6 a.m. and take three deep breaths.
The first simple practice is to take three full, deep breaths upon waking in the morning. This might sound obvious, but mindful breathing is one of the simplest ways to oxygenate all your cells, soothe your nervous system, and honor a new day.
This way, you are less likely to immediately get lost in yesterday’s drama, this morning’s media updates, or the insatiable desire for social validation. The practice of deep breathing ultimately sets you up for a more productive, peaceful, and grounded day.
2. Scrape your tongue, then sip warm water.
Eliminating toxins from your system is key to enhancing mental clarity and a sense of lightness in the body so you can engage fully in your day. To purge toxins first thing in the morning, use a tongue cleaner to scrape the whitish coating that has accumulated on your tongue overnight off and down the drain, rather than back into your system.
Follow this by sipping warm water to hydrate your cells, activate your digestive fire, and flush toxins out of your system. Feel free to add a squeeze of lemon and a small dollop of honey if you’d like.
3. Exercise between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Get into momentum by moving your body for 30–60 minutes during the kapha hours of the morning. This habit will balance the heavy energy of kapha and leverage the earth element to build physical strength for the day ahead.
During this time of day your muscles are at their strongest—it’s a great time to get out of your head and into your physical form.
4. Focus on passion and purpose mid-day.
Create a focused path for your passion and purpose during the pitta time of day, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The fire element will support your ambition, determination, and focus, ensuring your work in the world will have its greatest impact.
If it’s helpful, set an alarm to remind yourself to take advantage of this energized and productive time of day. Then sit down at your desk, get into the studio, or otherwise begin your mental work for the day by 10 a.m.
For additional herbal support, keep a bottle of Mental Clarity tablets on hand to further support your mid-day focus and decisiveness.
5. Take a break in the afternoon.
Afternoon vata time, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., signals the arrival of the light and playful air element. This time invites us into spaciousness to allow for a little more creativity, spontaneity, and play.
You can continue your work during this time, but build into your routine a simple practice that embodies a lighter energy—take a walk, play a game of ping pong with your co-workers, dance to a song you love, do a quick sketch, or simply take a few deep breaths to honor the lightness of your being.
6. Connect with loved ones in the evening.
Drop into the evening kapha time, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., by connecting sweetly with loved ones. Kapha is nourished through relationships, so utilize the water energy of this dosha to get into your heart and emotions.
Prioritize connection with your partner, if you have one, or make an effort to send some love to a friend or family member. Your community is your support network, and it is only with them by your side that you will create the world you envision.
7. Head to bed before reactivation.
Start to wind down before evening pitta time begins, when your ambitious self may be reactivated and you find yourself burning the midnight oil to take on the challenges of the world (or reorganizing your sock drawer).
This means getting into your bedtime routine at around 8 p.m. Sip on some Turmeric Milk Mix or Tulsi Fields herbal tea, rub the soles of your feet with Sleep Easy Oil, turn off your screens, and do some gentle restorative yoga to release your day.
Allow yourself to power down, then turn off the lights by 10 p.m. so that you can rest and rejuvenate before taking on another day of doing the work you are being called to do.
Create Sustainable and Lasting Change with Slowness and Intention
Ayurveda is our guide to our return home to our bodies and our innate wisdom so that we can co-create a world that invites everyone to thrive. As adrienne maree brown says,
“There is urgency in the multitudes of crises that we face, and it can make it hard to remember that in fact it is urgency thinking that got us to this point, and that our potential success lies in doing deep, slow, intentional work.”
By slowing down and designing your life intentionally to be aligned with the cosmic cycles, you will orient toward deeper connection to yourself, your communities, and the planet—in small and big ways.
You will experience more spaciousness for communication and collaboration, and greater clarity and vitality to show up for what you believe in—all of which is key to co-creating a more just and sustainable world.
*Editor’s note: adrienne maree brown intentionally writes her name lowercase.