Basic Principle

Daily activities (dinacharya) in Ayurveda

Rising: Rise in accordance with the seasons. This is traditionally at a time known as brahma muhurta, between 3 and 7 am as it is regarded as a time when we can most easily access our consciousness. As it is a vata predominant time kapha problems such as lethargy, mucus, bowel congestion, sluggish liver, muzzy headedness can be overcome. Sleeping into kapha time aggravates kapha and causes the above symptoms. People who are ill, pregnant, breast-feeding, elderly and children do not need to rise during brahma muhurta.

Elimination: Evacuate the bowels and bladder. Drink hot water to facilitate any sluggishness in the bowel. If further stimulation is required Ayurveda recommends taking some mild laxatives, regulating the digestive fire and diet.

Oral hygiene: Clean the teeth using astringent/bitter/pungent flavours to clear accumulated bacteria from the mouth and tongue and stimulates the digestive system via the gastric reflex stimulus considered to be caused by tongue scraping. Gargle (gandusa) with warm water, herbal infusions or oil to treat excess kapha, pitta or vata in the mouth and throat.

Physical hygiene: Wash the body; eyes using eyedrops (rose water or corrylium), nose using nasal drops (nasya) or wash using a neti pot with a salt water solution (1 part salt to 100 parts water) to draw kapha osmotically from this sinuses, lungs using breathing techniques (pranayama).

Oil massage (abhyanga): Massage is a central feature of the daily regime; it cleans the body, regulates the dosa, moves displaced dosas back to the digestive tract, emolliates and nourished the skin. It specifically protects from old age and vata diseases while promoting good vision, sound sleep and a long life. Use a small amount of warm oil to coat the skin and then wash off with warm water after it has has been absorbed. Vata types can use more oil but oleating massage should be avoided in ama conditions and with kapha accumulation. Caution should be observed with pitta skin inflammations as the unctuous nature of oil can irritate eczema, acne and rashes. Tradition suggests starting massage at the feet and legs, then progressing to the arms and back and then to the chest and abdomen. This brings lymphatic fluid back to the heart for elimination via the blood where toxins and wastes are cleared by liver and kidneys.

Exercise (vyayama): Practice stimulating exercise up to the point of a mild sweat. Hathayoga postures (asana) are relevant as is any metabolic exercise. Do not practice any repeating exercise that stresses any one part of the body excessively (jogging, skipping, weight-lifting). Exercise should not be carried out by anyone suffering from aggravated vata or pitta , young children, the elderly and by those suffering from indigestion.

Washing (snana): Use warm water  to wash the body after massage and exercise. Pitta types can have a cold bath or shower.

Meditation (dhyana): Using meditative techniques can help to raise awareness, instill intention in spiritual practice, remove attachments to the things we like and aversions from the things we dislike and give clarity of mind. There are many different practices used for stilling the mind and releasing it from its continual infatuation with the sensual and illusory world. Vata types should practice creative visualization involving order, ritual and regularity to help harness its ‘monkey-mind’ from swinging from thought to thought. Yantra meditation to constructive patterns may be an examples of this. Pitta types can emphasise regulatory disciplines involving counting and harmonizing the breath or focusing on a sense object to clear irritability and purify sadhaka pitta. This helps to develop clear thinking. Kapha types can practice more dynamic forms of meditation involving different sequences to offset sluggish mental habits or devotional forms of meditation (bhakti yoga) that will enhance their natural tendency for compassion and giving love.

Digestive stimulation (agnidipana) : Stimulate the digestive fire by taking digestive spices such as ginger (Zingiber officinale).

Eating (ahara) : Dietary habits should result in satisfaction, nourishment and contentment. Eat until the stomach is half full of food, one quarter full of water and the remainder left for digestive samana vayu to circulate.

About the author

Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari

Experienced holistic doctor, healer, teacher, and writer
Specialized in Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma)
Trained in India and Nepal, the original lands of Ayurveda
Graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) from the Institute of Medicine at Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.
Professional member of Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)
Owner of Sunshine Ayurveda

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