According to Ayurveda, yoga’s 5000 year old sister science, we live most optimally by observing the cycles in nature. To help us align with these cycles, Ayurveda recommends a morning routine and the following amazing morning routine ideas, as well as a nighttime routine. Collectively, these routines are known as Dinacharya which loosely means ‘daily routine’.
When we start the morning well in a disciplined way it prepares us to face the day in a mindful way. It makes us efficient in fulfilling the requirements and deadlines ahead of us, and leads to a restful sleep at night. So what should a morning routine include?
Take a look at these 16 morning routine ideas from Ayurvedic medicine. But first here’s a quick list of what we’ll cover in this article.
The Natural Cycles Of The Doshas
16 Morning Routine Ideas From Ayurvedic Medicine
1. Waking Up… Rise And Shine!
2. Drinking Water In The Morning (Ushapan)
4. Clean Your Teeth
5. Scrape Your Tongue (Jihva Nirlekhan)
6. Oil Pulling
7. Chew Herbs
8. Collyrium Eye Wash
9. Application Of Nasal Drops (Nasya)
10. Ayurvedic Oil Massage (Abhyanga)
11. Oil The Ears
12. Oil The Feet
13. Dry Powder Massage (Udvartana)
14. Bath (Snan)
15. Exercise (Vyayama)
16. Ayurvedic Breakfast (Pratarash)
Last but not least… Sadvvrita
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The ultimate objective of Ayurveda is ‘to preserve the health of the healthy and cure the disease of the sick’.1 Following a daily routine helps you attain this objective.
Dinacharya or daily routine establishes healthy habits by attuning the body to the natural cycle of the day. Each of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, have their own periods of predominance in a twenty four hour day. This chart illustrates the times of the day when a particular dosha dominates.
6am-10am Kapha Time 6pm-10pm- Kapha Time
10am -2pm-Pitta Time 10pm -2am- Pitta Time
2pm -6pm – Vata Time 2am -6am- Vata Time
Following a routine according to these elemental energies supports the body’s natural rhythm and healing potential. As you know, the human body is no different from nature surrounding you. It is a microcosm in a macrocosm we call the Universe. Whatever changes occur in the macrocosm (Universe) affect the body and vice versa.
The predawn is associated with the dominance of Vata dosha, the subtle energy, which is lighter and fills you with a vibrant energy for the rest of the day. Vata is associated with the elimination process of the body. This is the time when all the toxins built up in the body during the night should be eliminated.
The midday sun demonstrates Pitta dosha. Pitta time (10am-2pm) helps you digest the heaviest meal of the day. In Ayurveda, this should be lunch and not dinner. Kapha time starts at 6pm (or 6am). Ayurveda recommends going to bed by 10pm during this drowsy, Kapha time of night (6-10pm).
READ MORE: Vata Diet: Everything You Need To Know, Pitta Diet: Everything You Need To Know, Kapha Diet: Everything You Need To Know
So now that you know the natural cycles of the doshas, let’s take a look at these morning routine ideas.
Ayurveda recommendswaking up in the Brahma muhurta, the time period before 6am. Brahma muhurta is dominated by Vata dosha. The subtle energy of Vata actually makes it easier to get out of bed and the active energy of Vata will help in proper elimination.
After 6am the Kapha period sets in making it even harder to get out of bed. The Kapha period is characterized by sluggishness or lethargy. So kick start the day in the Brahma muhurta, before 6am and get into a daily morning ritual to face the day energetically.
The ancient Ayurvedic scholar Vagbhata says, always consider your digestion before waking up. If you feel heaviness of the abdomen or feel the food of the previous night is still not digested fully then you can wake up later. In indigestion it is advised to avoid taking anything by mouth and to get total rest.2
This rule of waking in the Brahma muhurta is for healthy people only. People who are sick, children, pregnant women and nursing mothers can consider sleeping later if needed.
Lightly splashing the face and eyes with cold or lukewarm water helps balance the doshas and rehydrates the skin. Fill your mouth with water and splash the face and eyes with cold or lukewarm water then spit the water out. This is calledAchaman.3
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Usha Paana is an ancient Indian water therapy mentioned in the science of yoga. Usha Paana refers to the drinking of luke warm water in the early morning. Usha means rising of the sun early in the morning and paan means to drink. It is claimed that regular Usha Paana prevents many diseases.
In ancient Ayurvedic classical texts it is mentioned to drink a glass or two of luke warm water preferably from a copper vessel. Do this as soon as you wake up, just after rinsing your mouth.
The logic behind taking this water (copper water) is to flush out the collected waste material in your large intestine and to cleanse your entire digestive system. The tendency of the Tamra Jal (water kept in the copper vessel) is to kill the bacteria, virus and microorganisms of the water and to purify it. This washes the GI Tract, flushes the kidneys and stimulates peristalsis.4
It is a good idea to start the day with Usha Paana instead of tea or coffee which can be habit forming.
READ MORE: Copper: The Next Fountain Of Youth?
According to Ayurvedic principles, it is preferable to evacuate the bowels in the morning.
Our body’s clock leans toward following the cycles of nature. During the nighttime, lunar energy is more predominant so our body focuses on calming and cooling itself. In the morning when the sun rises, our body goes into absorption phase when agni — the active, burning and transforming solar energy — dominates.
If during the day, we carry around the waste material we created at night, we may absorb some of that waste material (toxins) back into our system, weakening immunity and leaving us feeling fatigued, drowsy and irritable.Feeling energetic and relaxed are signs of proper evacuation. Twice a day is normal, but at least once a day is essential.
Bowel movements affect our entire physiology, so don’t ignore urges and don’t wait to go to the bathroom. Through routine and a balanced diet, we can tune into our body’s internal clock and make regular elimination a part of our daily routine. The use of nature’s intelligence and Ayurvedic herbs like Triphala can help smooth the elimination process into regularity.
After proper elimination of the bowel and bladder you should clean your teeth and tongue.
READ MORE: Triphala For Weight Loss, Triphala Benefits, Side Effects, Uses, Triphala Churna, Triphala Guggul, Can Triphala Cause Diarrhea?, Can Triphala Cause Acid Reflux?
Always use a toothbrush, toothpaste or tooth powder containing astringent, pungent and bitter herbs. These mitigate Kapha dosha or ama (undigested food matter) built up during the night. Avoid toothpastes with a sweet, sour or salty taste.5
The traditional Indian toothbrush is a neem stick, which dislodges fine food particles from between the teeth and makes strong, healthy gums. Acacia tree sticks are also used. According to Ayurveda the benefit of cleansing the teeth are numerous. For one, by brushing you remove the debris accumulated on the teeth, palate, tongue and in the mouth cavity in general. Taste is enhanced, and foul breath, sliminess and Kapha dosha are eliminated.6
A toothbrush should not be used in diseases of the throat, palate, lips and tongue, stomatitis, dyspnea, cough, hiccough, vomiting, debility, indigestion, fainting and diseases of the head and mouth.5,6
Forbidding the toothbrush does not mean that you need not clean the teeth at all. Make use of a homemade soft powder and your index finger instead of a brush. The most readily available form of tooth powder or toothpaste is common salt mixed with mustard oil or sesame oil. This can be used with the help of your index or middle finger instead of a tooth brush. Some tooth powders are available in the market as well. Other readily available herbs which can be used for brushing are neem, holy basil, sage, peppermint, cinnamon, clove, spirulina and rock salt.
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Tongue scraping, or Jihva nirlekhan, has long been an important part of the recommended Ayurvedic daily routine.
If you have ever noticed a film or coating on your tongue in the morning, your body may have a build-up of ama (undigested food). It can compromise your digestive and immune systems. This simple yet important method of cleaning the tongue removes the ama, that white coating or film, before it gets reabsorbed by the body.
A thick coating is indicative ofama in the digestive tract. Scraping the tongue helps to purify your sense of taste and benefits the internal organs. Finally, gargle with warm water, or salt water and turmeric to help purify and strengthen the voice and keep the gums, mouth, and throat healthy.
Gently scrape the tongue from the back forward, until you have scraped the whole surface for 3-7 strokes. The tongue should look clean, pink or red. This stimulates the internal organs, helps digestion and removes toxins.
Ayurvedic master Sushruta says the tongue scraper should be made of silver, gold or herbal based. It should be soft, smooth, and ten fingers long and be able to eliminate the build up.7 Various tongue scrapers made of plastic and metal are available in the market but a stainless steel spoon also works well.
Benefits Of Tongue Scraping
According to Charaka,the Ayurvedic master, the dirt deposited at the root of the tongue obstructs expiration and gives rise to a foul smell. The tongue should be scraped regularly.8 It helps to clear the upper respiratory passages and remedies the foul smell of the mouth.
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The classical Ayurvedic texts explain the usefulness of oil pulling.The ancient texts do not specifically use the term ‘oil pulling’ but they do have ancient Sanskrit terms that describe the process. One isGandush which means holding the oil in your mouth. The other term isKaval and this means swishing or gargling the oil in the mouth. In Ayurvedic literature a variety of different types of kaval and gandush are described and the difference between the two are very interesting.
Gandush: The Fill And Hold Method
In gandush, you fill the liquid or oil in the mouth fully so there’s no movement in your mouth. Your mouth will be completely distended. You completely stretch the muscles of your cheeks. There are several reasons why you do that. This process is very good for your teeth. It releases impurities and toxins.
Kaval: The Gargle Method
Kaval is a process where you take the oil or liquid in your mouth and move it around. Gargle it all the way to the back of your throat for a specific amount of time. Kaval and gandush are both a part of Ayurvedic daily routine.
Ayurvedic master Charaka mentions that sesame oil gargling is beneficial for the strength of the jaws, the depth of the voice and flabbiness of the face. It gives excellent sensation and a good taste in the mouth. This gargling prevents dryness of the mouth and throat, cracked lips, tooth caries or toothache or any dental issues.9
Ayurvedic master Sushruta mentions in his treatise Sushruta Samhita that holding oil or ghee in the mouth removes abnormal taste, foul smell, swelling and stiffness of the mouth. It also provides cheerfulness, firmness of the teeth and a good taste experience of food.10
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To further enhance oral hygiene, acharyas or teachers of Ayurveda suggested that those who want clarity, improved taste, and a good smell in the mouth should chew the fruits of jati (star anise), puga (areca catechu), kakkola (piper cubeba), cardamom and clove with fresh beetle leaf and extract of karpura (camphor).11
Readily available kitchen herbs which can be chewed are cardamom, cinnamon, clove, roasted fennel seeds and cumin seeds. They can be chewed for 5-10 minutes. These can be kept in the mouth even after lunch or dinner as it helps in digestion and clears the mouth of bad odor.
Applying collyrium to the eyes is mentioned by the Ayurvedic master Vagbhata under daily morning rituals. Acharya Charaka said one should regularly apply collyrium because it is useful to the eyes. Rasanjana (a preparation of Berberis aristata or Indian Barberry) is to be applied once in every five or eight nights for lacrimation of the eyes.
The eyes are the seat of Tejas or Pitta and have a risk of trouble from Kapha. Rasanjana should be used once a week to drain excess Kapha from the eyes.12 Thus the ancient teachers advised collyrium for keeping the vision clear. This should be followed by medicated Ayurvedic herbal smoking and nasya, which soothes all the senses including the nervous system and are advised to be practiced as daily rituals. These procedures for personal hygiene are essential for the maintenance of positive health.
Strong collyrium must not be applied to the eyes during the day as the eyes weakened by drainage will be adversely affected at the sight of the sun. Collyrium is meant for drainage and so, as a rule, it should be applied at night only.
Application of collyrium to the eyes helps eliminate Kapha from the eyes but that is not enough. Part of the vitiated Kapha in the head which is not easily eliminated by application of collyrium is instantaneously eliminated by medicated Ayurvedic herbal smoking and nasal insufflation (Nasya).
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Nasal drops instilled through the nostrils spread through the nasal route and correct imbalances of the dosha in the regionabove the shoulders. Nasya also is nourishing to the sense organs, particularly the ears and nose and also the voice apparatus in the throat.
Although various Nasya are described by the Ayurvedic teachers of long ago, Pratimarsha type of Nasya can be applied daily. Pratimarsha Nasya uses a small quantity of oil instilled into the nostrils. It can be done in all seasons. In this type of Nasya, the quantity of oil instilled when snuffed and slightly reaches the mouth is the appropriate amount. This Nasya can be performed by everyone. The recommended amount is two to three drops in each nostril. When practiced daily it promotes a good voice, beautiful hair, glowing skin, sharp sense organs and strong shoulders.13
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An oil massage and bath should be done daily. It wards off old age, exertion and aggravation of Vata dosha. It promotes good vision, nourishes the body, encourages good sleep, strengthens the muscles and supports healthy skin.
It should be done especially to the head, ears, and feet.14 Oil massage can go a long way in soothing the entire nervous system and emotions. It is a powerful tool. Preferably, a minimum of 30 minutes before a shower may help increase circulation, release toxins and stimulates nerve endings.
Ayurvedic oil massage is called abhyanga. It should begin with a head massage, applying oil to the head. Charaka mentioned in the Charaka Samhita that regular oiling of the head give strength to the head, forehead, and the hair. It stimulates the sense organs and improves skin tone. It also supports sound sleep, encourages happiness, prevents hair loss, baldness and greying of the hair.15
READ MORE: How Ayurvedic Massage Works + Ayurvedic Massage Oils, Proven Scientific Benefits Of Ayurvedic Massage, with references, The Benefits Of Ayurvedic Massage According To The Ancient Ayurvedic Texts
An ear massage is a boon to the entire body.
Begin at the top of the ear and use the thumbs and index fingers to rub the rim, moving slowly down to the lobe. A few drops of sesame oil just outside the opening to the ear canal keeps drying Vata energy in check.Ear diseases due to vitiated Vata dosha like lock jaw, hardness of hearing and deafness are prevented if warm oil (not hot) is regularly dropped into the ears.16
According to the Ayurvedic master Charaka, just as a pitcher and the axis of a cart becomes strong and resistant with the application of oil, so by massaging the body with oil the body becomes strong and smooth. It prevents diseases due to Vata vitiation, and provides resistance to exhaustion and exertion.17 Vata predominates the tactile sensory organ of the skin, so oil massage is very beneficial and should be practiced regularly.
After applying oil to the head and ears, apply it to the soles of the feet. Padabhyanga is oil massage to the soles of the feet. It removes roughness and cracking of the soles. It gives tenderness, strength, and steadiness to the feet, supports vision and pacifies Vata dosha. It can be done as a morning routine or as an evening routine before bedtime.
Charaka quoted in his treatise the Charaka Samhita that oil massage eliminates bad smell, renders lightness to the body, removes lethargy and drowsiness, removes itching, undesirable dirt and unpleasantness due to sweat. For Vata use warm sesame oil. For Pitta use warm sunflower or coconut oil.For Kapha use warm sunflower or mustard oil.
Abhyanga should be avoided by those suffering from aggravation of Kapha dosha, who have undergone Panchakarma (Ayurvedic cleansing measures) and who are suffering from indigestion, cold and flu.18
READ MORE: iYura Himaruti Foot Oil, Ayurvedic Foot Care: Pampering Treats For Tired Feet
Ayurvedic master Vagbhata mentioned a special procedure before bathing called Udvartana. Udvartana is a massage of the body with a soft, fragrant powder. It mitigates Kapha dosha, liquifies fat and produces stability, compactness and strength of the body parts. It also tones the muscles and skin.19
READ MORE: Ayurvedic Dry Powder Massage: Everything You Need To Know About Udwarthana (Udwarthanam)
Bathing cleanses and refreshes the body and the mind. It removes sweat, dirt and fatigue from the body and cleanses the energy channels. It energizes the body, gives mental clarity and purifies the body and mind.
Ayurvedic master Charaka said that Snan or bathing bestows strength to the body and is an excellent aid for the enhancement of Ojas.18 Vagbhata in the Ashtanga Hridaya said that bathing improves the appetite, promotes enthusiasm and strength, removes itching, dirt, exhaustion, sweat and thirst. It relieves burning sensations and improves life span.20
After bathing always wear clean clothes preferably made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, linen or silk. Ayurveda discourages wearing used clothing. Wearing natural perfumes brings freshness, joy and enthusiasm.
READ MORE: Perfumes + Scents: Stimulating Aromas For Kapha Dosha, Perfumes + Scents: Cooling Aromas For Pitta Dosha, Perfumes + Scents: Warming Aromas For Vata Dosha
After oil massage, Ayurveda emphasizes regular physical exercise, called vyayam. Physical exercise bestows you with a stable, distinct physique, helps remove excess fat, gives lightness to the body, the ability to do hard work and keen digestion.
Those who are strong and consume heavy and oily food during winter and spring seasons should exercise regularly to half of their strength (capacity) only. Half the capacity is marked by the appearance of perspiration on the forehead, nose, axilla, joints of the limbs and a feeling of dryness of the mouth. Others should exercise mildly. Those suffering from diseases of Vata and Pitta dosha, as well as small children, the elderly, and those suffering from indigestion should avoid exercise.21
After exercises, all the parts of the body should be massaged comfortably.
READ MORE: In An Exercise Rut? Find A Workout For Your Body Type
Yoga asanas are the preferred Ayurvedic way to exercise. If practiced properly, they do not put undue strain on any one part or system of the body. Yoga is not merely physical postures. Yoga connects you to your inner world, establishes peace and calm and puts your mind at ease.
Yoga asanas increase blood flow to vital organs and stimulate marma points, areas in our bodies where concentrated prana is located. It renders lightness to the body and prepares the body to face the struggles of the day. It also stimulates the digestive system and all the systems of the body.
After exercise, sit quietly and do some deep breathing exercises (Pranayama) as follows.
All three of these breathing exercises can be done if you want and have the time to balance all the three dosha. Yoga postures and Pranayama are great to prepare the body for meditation.
Meditation brings balance and peace to your life. Try and meditate for at least 15-20 minutes daily, preferably in the morning. Alternatively it can be done in the evening before dinner.
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Regular meals are an essential part of the Ayurvedic routine, with three warm, cooked meals a day. It’s preferred to eat at the same time every day. If you have low agni, your breakfast should be light. Kapha body types can skip breakfast. Otherwise, a light nourishing breakfast is recommended before 8am, enkindling digestive fire.
Now you are ready to carry out your daily work. 10am to 2pm is the Pitta period and the most productive hours for work. All problem solving and tasks needing full attention should be carried out during this period.
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Ayurveda emphasizes that Sadvritta or good conduct should be carried out daily both towards your self and other people you meet.
Vagbhata says in the Ashtanga Hridaya that all human activities are meant for happiness of all living beings. Happiness is based on Dharma or righteousness and right moral conduct. Every person should adopt righteousness always.22
Take these recommendations one step at a time, and don’t feel overwhelmed. And remember, cultivate a habit of taking it easy and slowing down. Following these morning routine ideas is a way to self discipline your life which enables you to be whole, healthy and grounded.
READ MORE: 10 Bad Habits You’ve Gotten Into
1. R. K Sharma, Bhagwan Dash, Charaka Samhita, Sutra Sthana, Vol 1 Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi(2016), verse-26, pp 600
2. Kaviraj Atridev Gupta, Ashtanga Samgraha, Vol 1,Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, Pp-19
3. Ayurveda Dictionary, national institute of ayurveda http://www.nia.nic.in/?ref=40
4. Kaviraj Atrideva Gupta, Ashtanga Samgraha, Vol 1 Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, (1987) pg-19, 20
5. K.R Srikanth Murthy, Ashtanga Hridayam, vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi (2016), pp 22
6. R.K Sharma, Bhagwan Dash, Charaka Samhita, vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Sanskrit series, varanasi,(2016), verse-75, pg-123
7. P.V. Sharma, Sushruta Samhita with english translations, Vol 2 , Chikitsa Sthana,Chaukhamba vishvabharati, varanasi(2013), verse-13, pg-491,492
8. R.K Sharma, Bhagwan Dash, Charaka Samhita, vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Sanskrit series, varanasi,(2016), verse-75, pg-123
9. R.K Sharma, Bhagwan Dash, charaka Samhita, Vol 1, sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series, Varanasi(2016),pp-123
10. P.V Sharma, sushruta Samhita, Vol 2, Chikitsa Sthana, Chowkhamba Vishva Bharati, Varanasi (2013), verse-14, pp 492
11. R.K Sharma, Bhagwan Dash, Charaka Samhita, with english translations, Vol 1, Sutra sthana, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series office, Varanasi(2016) verse-76-77,pp-123
12. K.R. Srikantha Murthy, Astanga Hridayam, Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi(2016), verse-5, pp23
13. K.R. Srikanth Murthy, Astanga Hridaya, Vol-1, Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi(2016), verse-26-27, pp-260
14. K.R. Srikanth Murthy, Astanga Hridaya,Vol 1, Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi(2016), verse-8-9,pp-24
15. R.K Sharma, Bhagwan Dash, Charaka samhita, Vol 1, sutra Sthana,Chowkhamba sanskrit series office, Varanasi(2016), verse-81-83, pp-124
16. R.K Sharma, Bhagwan dash, Charaka Samhita, Vol 1, Sutra sthana, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi(2016), verse-84, pp-124
17. R.K Sharma, Bhagwan Dash, Charaka samhita, Vol 1, sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Sanskrit series Office, Varanasi(2016), Verse-85,86, pp-124
18. K.R Srikantha Murthy, Ashtanga hridayam vol 1 Sutra Sthana, Chowkhamba Krishnadas academy, Varanasi(2016), verse-8-9, pp-24
19. K.R Srikantha Murty, Ashtanga hridaya,Vol-1, Sutrasthana, Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi(2016),verse 15, pp-25
20. R. K. Sharma , Bhagwan Das Charaka Samhita, sutra sthana,Vol 1, Chowkhamba Sanskrit series Office, Varanasi(2016) verse-94, pp 126
21. K.R Srikantha Murthy,Astanga hridaya, Vol 1 SutraSthana,Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi(2016) verse-16, pp-26
22. K.R. Srikantha Murthy,Ashtanga Hridaya, SutraSthana, Vol 1,Chowkhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi(2016) verse:10-11, pp- 24-25
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