According to the science of life, the average span of life for human beings is one hundred years(Shataayu), which may decrease if the prescribed good conduct is not adhered to. The ancient medicinal system, Ayurveda suggests that in order to achieve the fourfold objectives of life - dharma (virtuous duty), artha (wealth), kama (enjoyment) and moksha (salvation), we must have good health. To serve the purpose, the Ayurveda practitioners have formulated a Dinacharya.
It is believed that the daily routine (Dinacharya) is formulated to merge the daily cycle with the natural cycle of the Sun, Moon, Earth and other planets in the Solar System. The daily routine includes all aspects of regimen and diet, to stay healthy and happy. The Rishis of Ayurveda have cited dinacharya as the healing force, stronger than any other curative medicines. This is the reason why many Ayurveda texts consist of the dinacharya for an average adult.
In Sanskrit, Dina means day and Charya means following. Ayurveda recommends that in order to be optimally healthy we should tune our bodies to the nature's master cycle which in turn regulates the various other rhythms.
Everyday two cycles of change pass through us, each bringing a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha predominance. The approximate times of these cycles are as follows:
6 A.M. to 10 A.M. - Kapha
10 A.M. to 2 P.M. - Pitta
2 P.M. to 6 P.M. - Vata
6 P.M. to 10 P.M. - Kapha
10 P.M. to 2 A.M. - Pitta
2 A.M to 6 A.M. - Vata
Considering the above cycles the ideal schedule should be like this :
Time to wake up:
A healthy person should get up at Brahmi muhurta i.e. 1 Muhurta(48 minutes) before sunrise. This is primarily due to the fact the sattva in the air is at its maximum during the time. In fact, it is the most fresh and pure time of the entire day. During these hours the Vaata element is dominant. Waking up one muhurta before dawn you utilize the Vaata qualities in the nature. Vaata is light, subtle and clear and this helps in tuning the body to the delicate messages the nature sends. Barring a few exceptions like very young or old people, parents with small children and people suffering from fevers or diarrhea, every one should wake up during the designated time.
Right after you wake up to start the day, you should take a moment to see your true nature. To serve the purpose, take a short stroll outside your home and soak up the good vibes. Peep through the window to see what life is beyond the four walls of your home. Start your day thereafter.
Elimination: Drinking a glass or two of warm water helps in the elimination. As soon as possible empty your colon and bladder. Proper elimination ensures your body's proper functioning. If you wait until later in the morning or during the day you are slowly poisoning yourself (due to accumulation of toxins and wastes) and creating an opportunity for chronic conditions to arise.
Cleaning of Senses: Wash the eyes with water. Preferably use rose water and Triphala to purify the sight. Brush the teeth and scrape the tongue with a tongue cleaner to purify your mouth and the taste buds. Ayurveda considers the coating of the tongue as an indicator of 'Aama' or toxins in the colon. Gargle with warm water or herbal tea to purify your voice and strengthen your teeth. Fill your mouth with sesame(Gingely) oil and retain it a few minutes before spitting. This strengthens the teeth, improves the sense of taste, lubricates the palate and is good for eyes. Put a little oil in your nose to purify the sinuses and your sense of smell.This is called as Nasya in Ayurveda. The traditional Dinacharya also recommends that you inhale the smoke of medicinal herbs every morning to purify the mind, head, face, neck and lungs.
Abhyanga: Dryness in the tissues of the skin is a major part of aging. This is the reason why many people show the signs of aging at a very young age. Therefore, abhyanga or oil massage is highly recommended. This is typically a self massage. It is one of the main ways that keeps us strong and prevents us from aging, rejuvenates the skin and nurtures your mind and soul. This massage need not be long and cumbersome. Massaging the Scalp, forehead, temples, hand and feet for about 5 minutes is sufficient.Do not miss to apply oil on your head, ears, and feet. Avoid oil on head if you have cold, cough and headache.
Vyayama: Vyayama is the name for physical exercise. It can be anything including a walk, a swim, Surya namaskara or whatever. This early morning exercise removes stagnation in the body and mind, strengthens the digestive fire, reduces fat and gives you an overall feeling of lightness and joy as it fills your body with good, fresh and pure Prana. It is not to be strenuous. In fact, exercising to one half of your capacity is recommended.i.e. stop exercising once you sweat over your forehead and nose tip.
Snana: After exercise bath to remove any excess oil and dirt. Both showers and bathtubs are recommended in the classics. Usually warm water baths are suggested.Do not take hot water bath on the head. Apart from cleaning your body, bathing increases the digestive fire. Put on clean clothing after the bath.
Prayer & Meditation: Praying and worshipping God by offering flowers and food is done to purify one's mind and to surrender ego and the results of all actions to God. Then meditate for a few minutes to an hour and see who you really are, put your attention towards awareness. Meditation refreshes the mind, increases the concentration power and builds the energy needed for the rest of the day. This is the most important aspect of Dinacharya. Simply be quiet, sit in Peace.
Breakfast: Kick-start the day with a healthy breakfast. Be sure not to skip your breakfast, because it is the first meal of your day.This should be warm, nourishing and wholesome.
Study / Work: Do what you do from now until noon.
Lunch: Until noon, you would be studying, doing work at your workplace or traveling. This is the time to have your lunch. Since this is the main meal of the day, you need to eat a nutritious lunch. It should be taken early between 12 and 1 P.M. This coincides with the peak Pitta period, Pitta is responsible for digestion. Ayurveda recommends that the lunch should be the largest meal of the day consisting of wholesome food with all the six tastes. After the meal it is good to take a little walk, a couple hundred steps only, to help the food digest.
Siesta: Anything more than a short nap should be avoided because sleeping in the day is prohibited in Ayurveda due to the fear of accumulation of vitiated kapha.
Study / Work:Do what you do from now until supper.
Sundown is a special time of balance between day and night. In this balance it is easier for your mind to stop long enough so that you can see your Self. This is the time for evening prayers and meditations in many cultures around the world.
It should be taken around 6 - 7 P.M. It should be lighter than the lunch. The dinner should be at least three hours before bedtime as gives the body ample time to digest the food. Sleeping just after the dinner with a heavy stomach is not conducive to a sound sleep.
Walk to aid digestion for about 10 - 15 minutes.
Ease: From dinner to bedtime just take it easy. Spend time with family, interact with friends, read, and relax.
Go to sleep around 9 - 10 P.M. so that you can get 6 to 7 hours of sleep before 4:30 am. A good practice is to massage the soles of your feet with oil before going to bed. This will calm your system and promote well being.
And remember to take your Triphala before sleep. This will nourish your eyes and also will ensure proper digestion and elimination.
One should try to keep the routine as close to the recommended Dincharya as possible. The body might resist the change for a first few days but if you do manage to persist then you are bound to get rewarded with a much healthier and satisfying life.
Any new activity continuously done for 21 days, naturally and automatically becomes part of your routine and that the body and mind get accommodated with it.
Follow dinacharya and practice healthy living.