In our previous blog post, we explored the concept of Ayurveda and the three doshas. Specifically, Ayurveda takes a holistic, whole-body approach to health and wellness; following Ayurveda means recognizing your dominant dosha and aligning your nutrition, exercise, and other aspects of your lifestyle to keep it in balance.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. There's a lot more to Ayurveda than that—including the important concept of Dinacharya.
In this post, we'll explore the meaning of Dinacharya and why it matters. From there, we'll offer up a step-by-step guide to embracing Dinacharya with an Ayurvedic self-care routine you can use to get every morning off to a great start.
What is Dinacharya?
Specifically, Dinacharya is a key practice within Ayurveda that involves following daily self-care rituals. In fact, the word "Dinacharya" literally translates from Sanskrit to "day" and "behavior" or "discipline" in English. The idea is that by following a daily self-care ritual, you'll be regularly taking the steps you need to keep the three doshas in a state of balance. As a result, you may enjoy a greater sense of overall health, wellness, and emotional well-being.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to Dinacharya is that self-care rituals must be highly personalized. After all, each person has a dominant dosha—so what works for somebody with a strong vata dosha may not work as well for somebody with a dominant pitta dosha. The key is to identify which of your doshas needs the most attention and then find ways to keep it in balance each day.
Reasons to Establish a Self-Care Routine
Dinacharya aside, there are many other benefits to establishing (and sticking with) a daily self-care routine. Specifically, self-care habits can help you stay healthier, reduce stress, boost energy, and even live longer.
Of course, the key to actually reaping the benefits of self care is engaging in nourishing activities on a regular basis. This is easier said than done, as you may already be aware. Finding the time to regularly engage in self-care activities can seem like a losing battle, especially when you have a busy career, a household to manage, or other life obligations.
This is exactly why creating a realistic daily ritual can make all the difference. By getting into the habit of following the exact same self-care steps each day, you're more likely to stick with your ritual in the long run. In fact, studies have found that the average person needs to do something for 66 days straight before it becomes a habit.
Your Ayurvedic Morning in Seven Steps
So, when is the best time to implement a self-care routine? Ultimately, this will depend on your lifestyle and how your day is structured. However, the Ayurvedic belief is that morning routines are most effective.
Not sure where to begin with building an Ayurvedic morning routine? We've got you covered with this step-by-step guide. Of course, this is just a starting point—and not all activities here may be suitable or desirable for you. Feel free to build on or change this routine in anyway that suits your needs (and time constraints!).
1. Begin With a Mind and Body Scan
Rather than jumping out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off, why not take a moment to yourself? Completing a mind and body scan as soon as you wake up can be a great way to start the day on the right foot. This practice involves mentally "scanning" your body from head to toe, making note of any areas of pain and/or tension. From there, take inventory of your emotions. How are you feeling? Why might that be?
By being more aware of where you stand before you even get up, you can be a little better prepared for the day ahead.
2. Set Aside Time to Meditate
Morning is a wonderful time to meditate because your mind tends to be clearest when you first wake up. As a result, you can get more out of your meditation routine. You don't have to have a lot of free time on your hands to enjoy the benefits of morning meditation; even just a quick, five-minute routine can make a big difference as you ease into your day.
3. Warm Up With a Cup of Tea
Now that you've woken up your mind, it's time to invigorate the rest of your body. Starting your day with a cup of tea is an excellent way to do that. Not only does tea help to kickstart your body's digestive system, but it can also give you the energy boost you need to move through your day with confidence. And of course, there's the fact that tea is delicious!
What kind of tea is right for you as you begin your day? There are plenty of options to choose from, so explore and find the tea that you enjoy most. However, many people swear by matcha green tea first thing in the morning for its natural anti-inflammatory properties, steady energy, and high levels of antioxidants.
4. Enjoy a Nourishing Meal
Next, it's time to nourish your body with breakfast. What you should eat for breakfast as part of your self-care ritual will depend on a number of factors, including how much free time you have to prepare a meal and your dominant dosha.
Some breakfast ideas for those with vatta doshas include:
- spiced oatmeal
- eggs scrambled with spinach
Meanwhile, pitta doshas may want to whip up:
- a soft-boiled egg
- spiced eggs with steamed greens
Kaphas, we've got you covered with these breakfast options:
- spiced baked apples with sunflower and/or flax seeds
- warm quinoa topped with honey
5. Get Moving
Exercise is an important component of any morning self-care ritual. By getting your body moving, you'll be supporting your health and wellness while relieving stress and even boosting your energy throughout the day.
Again, the exercise regimen that's right for you will depend on your free time in the mornings and your dominant dosha. For many, something as simple as a quick morning yoga routine is plenty to get the body moving. Specifically, kaphas may benefit from a quick yoga routine for an energy boost. Meanwhile, vatas and pittas may get more out of a slower-paced and calming yoga exercise.
Another way to get moving in the morning is to get outside and take a walk. This will not only get you some exercise, but will help you ground yourself in the earth by surrounding yourself with nature. Whether you go for a quick walk around your block or have time to hit up your local hiking trails, a little morning movement can set a positive tone for the rest of your day.
6. Indulge in a Bath
Bathing in the morning is common in Ayurvedic practice—and for good reason. It is believed that bathing in the morning helps to cleanse not just the body, but the mind and spirit as well. In this sense, when you bathe in the morning, you're starting your day with a "blank slate" of sorts.
If you have time for a hot bath in the morning, great! Adding fresh herbs, flowers, and even fenugreek to your bath is a great way to get the most of the experience. If you're too busy for that kind of bathing routine most mornings, that's okay. A quick bath or even a shower with aromatherapy oils can be just as indulgent. Again, it's all about figuring out what works best for you.
7. Set Your Intentions for the Day
After you've bathed and are feeling ready to face the day, there's one more quick thing you should do before you head out the door: set your intentions for the day. This takes just a few moments of your time, but can make all the difference in how you react to the events of your day ahead.
Consider, for example, setting intentions to slow down and notice your surroundings more if you'd like to feel more present. If you know you have a particularly busy day coming up, you might also set intentions to take frequent meditation or breathing breaks. This can help to keep you grounded no matter what the day throws at you.
Time to Make Self Care a Priority
Whether you're following Ayurveda or simply looking for a way to improve your quality of life, a little self care goes a very long way. No matter how busy you are, making self care a priority can pay off many times over by giving you more energy, reducing your stress, and improving your outlook on life! This will serve you well in all your daily interactions with loved ones, strangers, and everybody in between.
This step-by-step guide to a morning self-care ritual can be a great starting point, but over time, you'll likely make changes and tweaks to better suit your own needs. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you're getting what you want out of your morning self-care ritual!