It is beautiful to see that more than 5,000 years since its birth in India, Ayurveda has been embraced around the world. Translated from Sanskrit, Ayurveda means the ‘science of life’ and is considered the mother of all medicine for it has been developed, notated and systemised into a timeless, applicable science of well-being.
The relevance and rising popularity of Ayurveda may be a symptom of a society no longer satiated by fad diets, trending fitness and quick health fixes. Many recognise that the rhythms of nature are indeed reflected in our own – regulating them and informing us about how to live. At its essence, Ayurveda focuses on prevention, and understands everything as an embodiment of living in harmony with nature and its five elements: air, ether, fire, earth and water.
One of the simplest, yet most profound teachings of Ayurveda is the invitation to look closely at our daily routine, or dinacharya. Dina means ‘day’ or ‘flow‘ and charya, ‘practices’. As much as we may believe that spontaneous and irregular action serves us, it is only a matter of time before we are depleted by the choices and decisions we make throughout the day. Quite simply, an informed daily routine reduces the overwhelm and contributes to greater health, resilience and harmony on all levels of being.
We need only look to nature for inspiration and routine – the rising and setting of the sun, cycles of the seasons and the impulses that influence the behaviour of all creatures. With the advent of energy our ability to alter our environment and engage at all hours has significantly disrupted our habits of routine and overall health. We have truly become a culture of the ‘wired and tired’.
Ayurvedic professor and physician, Dr Vasant Lad says, “The habits and routines in our life are the single most important determinant of well-being. A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change to the body, mind and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one’s constitution. It also helps to regularise a person’s biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness and longevity.”
Self-care is foundational to preventative healthcare and genuine well-being and it pays to ask yourself, ‘What do I do every day that supports and is good for me?’ For example, eating well and exercising. And, ‘What do I do every day that doesn’t support me?’ For example, mindless snacking and sleeping in late. These questions help us to identify our prajnaparadha, or ‘crimes against wisdom’ – the actions that do not serve or support us, which are the underlying cause of most diseases.
Clinical Ayurvedic Practitioner Melanie Phillips describes our daily habits like spokes on a wheel. Remove one spoke and it still rolls, but remove another and another, and the wheel eventually collapses. When we ignore healthy daily routines, the call of our soul will prevail whether it appears as health problems, illness, accidents or not being in alignment. If we don’t heed the early messages, there is potential for these imbalances to permeate into deeper tissue layers and manifest as serious discord in body and mind.
To adopt a sense of regularity through a daily routine offers a deep sense of grounding, stability, and predictability that our physiology adapts to and is supported by. When the body learns to count on adequate rest, cleansing practices, appropriate exercise and nourishing food, the nervous system relaxes, eliciting profound rejuvenation. Not to be underestimated, our daily routine is nothing short of an abiding act of self-love. It gives us permission to prioritise health and well-being every day no matter what else is going on in our lives.
MAKING IT MANAGEABLE
Some aspects of dinacharya are quick and easy to incorporate into your day, while others require effort and a strong level of commitment. It’s important to be realistic and not get overwhelmed because consistency is key. In this respect, less is truly more.
The following Ayurvedic routine is one that everyone benefits from regardless of their unique constitution, however your daily routine can be further informed by understanding your constitution or dosha.