How My Daily Routine Changed My Life
For me, Ayurveda is a living body of a wisdom that it is constantly evolving, transforming, and growing. Ayurveda is alive through people who live to find a state of balance and a deeper wisdom inherent to life. Ayurveda teaches that when we listen carefully to our decisions, we learn the deeper patterns of the natural world.
One of the most foundational aspects of Ayurveda is dinacharya, or daily routine. When I first read about the traditional dinacharya, I was completely overwhelmed! All I could think was that there was no way I would have time to go through a long checklist of self-care practices every single morning.
That distinction helped me soften the pressure of a daily routine so I could start by making small changes instead of trying to overhaul my entire life. I started my practice of dinacharya by practicing just the parts of it that worked for me: a cup of hot water, tongue cleaner, abhyanga, meditation, and yoga. I knew that I already enjoyed these practices, so adding them into my day felt both doable and exciting.
Making a Sustainable Daily Routine
The hardest part of creating a daily routine for me was consistency (a typical trait of vata!) so to combat my tendency towards this erratic quality, I created a spectrum between my “bare minimum” and my “perfect goal” for a daily routine.
My bare minimum was what I considered the absolute least amount of a routine I needed, which came in handy on days when I really didn’t have time to do much more. It started out as a ten-minute meditation and a cup of hot water.
On days when I had plenty of time, I was able to work closer to my perfect goal, which included a longer yoga practice, journaling, and abhyanga with a nourishing oil like Daily Massage Oil. Now every time I meet my bare minimum, I feel the reward of having kept a commitment to myself—and yet I always have room to grow.
Feeling The Benefits
After many years of practicing dinacharya, I can see clearly how it has really helped me to remain calm when life becomes stressful. I am able to get up in the morning, brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, drink hot water, meditate, and journal even during the most stressful periods of my life—something I never thought I could do previously.
I noticed the benefits of my daily routine really stood out during a very stressful period of my life, when I was going through a lot of transition and feeling out of control and extremely anxious. On the days when I practiced my daily routine, I was able to stay calm and notice when anxiousness would arise. I could feel the anxiousness and let it pass. When I did not practice my routine, I felt consumed by it and had to look for ways to cope.
Setting the Foundation
For me, this brought an understanding that dinacharya is like the foundation of a house— without one it is easy for the house to fall apart, but with a strong foundation I can withstand any earthquakes coming my way.
I believe this is best summarized by Dr. Sanjay Pisharodi in his translation of a traditional Ayurvedic text, the Ashtanga Hrdayam:
“When we become conscious of what we think, speak, and do at every moment, we will automatically become aware of the pros and cons and thus avoid those activities that bring misery. This is called mindfulness.”
In 2017, the Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine went to researchers studying circadian rhythm, a biological clock that all humans have. This research is very similar to the concept of dinacharya Ayurveda has pointed out for thousands of years, which adapts our physiology to different phases of the day.
For example, knowing that I set my foundation during the early morning vata hours, I do my exercise in the morning kapha time of day, and have lunch at the pitta time of day when digestion is strongest. This has helped me to use my energy in the most optimal way. When I wasn’t following this routine, I often felt overwhelmed by the amount of decisions I had to make; now I have a system that helps me organize and see what will best support my optimal functioning.
I like to joke that on the days I have completed my dinacharya I am “premeditated” for a day of resilience and health. Without my routine, I feel off-kilter and unable to respond properly to the challenges that face me. Practicing dinacharya allows me to clean off my lens so I can see more clearly.
Though my practice of dinacharya is ever-changing and evolving, I know that it has greatly deepened my connection to myself and continues to strengthen my ability to live every day from a place of authenticity and care.