An Ayurvedic daily routine with a big impact – dinacharya

What if the most profound change you could make in your life was a seemingly small one? This is the time to establish a dinacharya, or a daily routine.

The word “dinacharya” means, “to follow the knowledge of the day” in Sanskrit. This Ayurvedic concept is based on the idea that building a simple structure into your day allows you to keep the doshas in balance, maintain healthy agni and support strong ojas. It will also help you stay mentally balanced, allowing for better relationships in life, and ultimately allow you to live according to your intentions. Think about this: You may have the intention (even a resolution) to start a meditation practice. You meditate a few times – just whenever you can fit it in. But after a couple weeks, the practice is overtaken by demands from your mind, family, career and life. Sound familiar?

Creating a supportive dinacharya is the key to great health and making the changes you want to see in your life. Through a simple schedule, you become in control of your day instead of it controlling you. If you are looking to begin meditating (or want to enhance your health, eat better, exercise more, spend time with family), rather than making a resolution, create a dinacharya that allows you to create grounding in your day so you can better honor the intention you have created. It will lay the foundation for everything else to fall into place in your life.

How to build a simple Ayurvedic daily routine
Start establishing your dinacharya with a few simple things. We've included a basic structure below. Once you relax into these practices, there are many other components that you may want to add, such as abhyanga.

  1. Wake before sunrise. Waking early ensures you avoid sleeping past the heavier kapha time, which can lead to grogginess and inertia. If sunrise is late where you live, aim to get out of bed before 6:00 a.m.
  2. Purify your body. Scrape your tongue, brush your teeth, neti and bathe.
  3. Meditation, asana or any other spiritual practice or supportive exercise to bring balance to your mind and body.  
  4. Eat breakfast by 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. Take 20 minutes to sit down and give your digestion a good start for the day.
  5. Eat lunch by 12:00 or 12:30 p.m. Setting a designated time to eat lunch will improve your health by reducing the chances that you’ll overeat or eat poorly because you are too hungry. Walking away from work or daily activities for a short time to eat also helps you come back with a clear focus for your afternoon. Be sure to sit down while you eat and leave your phone, email or other distractions behind.
  6. Eat dinner by 6:00 p.m. This gives your body enough time to digest before bedtime so you can avoid feeling foggy and heavy in the morning.
  7. Wind down activities (including shutting off electronics) one hour before bedtime and focus on your spiritual practice, reading or quiet time with loved ones. This prepares your body for the transition to sleep, ensuring a peaceful rest and more energy for the next day.
  8. Go to bed before 10:00 p.m. Getting to sleep before the more active pitta time begins ensures you don’t get caught in the “second wind” trap – cleaning your closets out at midnight will not lead to you feeling good the next day.

While this structure may seem simple, the impact is truly life changing. This is because the greatest benefit dinacharya offers is calming vata dosha by more closely tuning to your body’s natural rhythms and reducing the stress associated with a lack of routine. When the wind energy of vata is out of balance, the excessive movement can quickly throw pitta and kapha doshas out of balance. But with dinacharya, vata is grounded and supported through routine and can help balance the other doshas. And, in the free spaces in between the structured times, balanced vata supports greater creativity and mental flexibility. Through this change, you can begin to experience deeper enjoyment in life – and have your intentions stick all year long.