HomeEnvironmentLiving with nature’s rhythms

DR. PRASAD VELUTHANAR writes about the day’s routine from the ayurvedic perspective. He explains how doing specific activities at specific times of the day will help you derive maximum benefits and improve your well-being.

Dinacharya is the Sanskrit word for “daily routine,” a simple and effective way to balance the body. Our daily activities have a profound effect on our health, and a good routine is a stronger medicine than an occasional remedy. Dinacharya establishes healthy habits by attuning the body to the natural cycles of the day. The energies of each of the three doshas – vata, pitta, and kapha – predominate at different times within the 24-hour period. By establishing a routine that goes with these elemental energies, we enable the body’s natural rhythms and healing potential. 



2 to 6 a.m. – vata

Waking Up:  Waking up between 4 and 6 a.m. helps us develop alertness, vibrancy, enthusiasm, energy, clarity, strengthened intuition, and motivation. Vata qualities are prominent, and it is the most sattvic, peaceful time of the day, ideal for spiritual practice. If you have time constraints, when you wake up take a few deep breaths, and be thankful for waking up to an exciting new day. 

Elimination: The bladder and colon may be emptied upon rising. Drinking a glass or two of warm water with a little bit of lemon can help rehydrate tissues, flush toxins, enkindle digestive fire, and stimulate peristalsis. 

Cleansing: Ayurveda recommends purifying the senses every day so that you can have new life experiences. Refresh and energize the mind by splashing the face and eyes with cool or lukewarm water. Gently wash your ears and apply a thin coat of sesame oil to the inside of the ears with your little finger. Use a neti pot with saline solution to clean your nasal passages. Brush your teeth. Scrape your tongue using a tongue cleaner. Finally, gargle with salt water and turmeric to help purify and strengthen your voice and keep your gums, mouth, and throat healthy. 


Oil massage: Nourishes and strengthens the body, encourages regular sleep patterns, stimulates internal organs, enhances blood circulation, and can significantly reduce avataim balance. 

Bathing: Take a bath using a minimal amount of soap. Ayurveda sees bathing as a therapeutic activity. It is suggested that you bathe with lukewarm water. Do not bathe in a hurry – let the mind and body benefit from the bath. Use gentle aromatherapy oils such as lavender and sandalwood. The ancient ayurvedic texts also recommend adding rose petals, milk, honey, and turmeric to your bath. A leisurely bath relaxes tense muscles, irons out a creased brow, opens clogged pores, restores moisture to the tissues, and adds a healing dimension to your day. It enhances physical energy levels and improves your mental well-being.

Clothing: Always wear clean clothing, preferably made from natural fibers such as cotton, wool, linen, or silk. Ayurveda discourages wearing used clothing, especially other peoples’ shoes, because of the polluted subtle energies that they collect. 

Gentle exercise: Daily exercise increases circulation and oxygenation of the tissues, strengthens digestion, tones the body, reduces fat, and enhances vitality. Determine the best time to exercise and what form of exercise to practice according to your constitutional type and the effects of the seasons. For example, in the fall, a vata person should exercise during the kapha time of day, to take advantage of kapha’s grounding and stable qualities. Choose an activity that is soothing to the nervous system like yoga or tai-chi. 

Meditation:  Just as you cleanse your body each day, also cleanse your mind of accumulated thoughts that no longer serve you. Be still. Direct your attention inward. Notice your breath. Practice pranayama. Meditate for twenty minutes or simply invite calm and relaxation into the body if time is limited. This practice acts as a protective shield to the destabilizing influences of the external environment. 


6 to 10 a.m. – kapha

Aerobic exercise: This period is kapha time, which has the qualities of heaviness, slowness, and stability – the later a person wakes after dawn, the more of these qualities they imbibe and carry for the rest of the day. Kapha time is the best time for active physical exercise like jogging, swimming, or cycling. 


Proper absorption of minerals, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates
will result in efficient energy production and feelings
of strength and alertness.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – pitta

Work and lunch: This is the most productive time for work, especially for problem-solving and tasks that require your full attention and focus. It is also the time when the sun is at its peak and when the digestive fire is at its strongest.  It is the ideal time to eat the largest meal of the day.

Eating at this time allows efficient and maximum digestion, assimilation, and metabolism. Proper absorption of minerals, vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates will result in efficient energy production and feelings of strength and alertness. There will also be less desire for snacking and overeating if your diet is nutritious and properly assimilated. A short, leisurely stroll shortly after lunch also aids digestion. 


2 to 6 p.m. – vata

Creative work: Vata comes again in the afternoon. This is a good time for mental agility and creative work. Vata types may experience a drop in energy at this time and a small snack is valuable for them. 

Evening meal: Eat a light meal in the evening. It is important to allow enough time for your previous meal to digest thoroughly (generally 4 hours).Ideally, eat before sundown and at least three hours before bedtime. 


Evening is a time to relax, engage in pleasant conversation
with family or friends, read, or play gentle soothing music.

6 to 10 p.m. – kapha

Relaxation: The slow, stable qualities of kapha increase as the evening progresses and reach their peak a couple of hours before midnight. In order to imbibe these qualities and ensure a sound, heavy, undisturbed, and restful sleep, go to bed before this period ends.

Evening is a time to relax, engage in pleasant conversation with family or friends, read, or play gentle soothing music. It is a time to unwind from the stimulation and activity of the day. About half an hour before bedtime is the perfect time to take Triphala tea to gently tone and balance the digestive tract.  


10 p.m. to 2 a.m. – pitta

Sleep: The next active Pitta period runs from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. If you are not asleep during this period, the body will wake up and have a second wind around 11p.m., which may have you up till 1a.m.!  Sleep is then impaired and the elimination of impurities and toxins from the body suffers. Being in bed by 10 p.m. will ensure 6 to 7 hours of refreshing, detoxifying sleep that will leave you revitalized and energized. You may also apply oil to the scalp and the soles of the feet before bed to calm the nervous system and promote sound sleep.  

This Pitta period is a second digestive phase, but it is not intended for digesting large quantities of food or heavy food. The metabolism work differently than at midday and is far less efficient in terms of breaking down the contents of the stomach and intestines. It will try to digest them but usually leaves the process incomplete, leading to a further build-up of undigested food (hence the very furry, white tongue in the morning after a late night of alcohol and heavy food). This is why the evening meal should be light and easily digestible.  Following these daily rhythms is a way to bring more awareness to all of the habits and choices we make throughout the day. Conscious awareness of living in harmony with the cycles of nature is the path to health and freedom. 

Illustrations by JASMEE MUDGAL


Prasad Veluthanar

Prasad Veluthanar

Dr. Prasad did his Ayurvedacharya medical degree in Kerala. During his 22 years of professional practice, he has worked in India, Mauritius, Malaysia, Russia, and Egypt. He was the first Indian Ayurvedic doctor to practice and propagate ... Read More