6 Ayurvedic Evening Rituals For A Calming Night
Evenings are a sacred part of our daily flow. Wind down and rebalance with these simple Ayurvedic evening rituals.
Our busy days pull us in a million different directions. As a result, our bodies and minds stay revved up long after we finish our to-do lists. Establishing a daily rhythm (known as dinacharya in Ayurveda) can help us reclaim balance.
We’re often too exhausted to think much about our nightly habits. But our quality of sleep sets the tone for our entire day. Intentional evening rituals help us flow from a busy day to restful sleep.
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How can evening rituals improve my sleep?
Evening rituals quiet our “working” minds and signal it’s time to unwind. With simple, mindful practices, we can release the day and ground our energy. When bedtime rolls around, we’re calm, relaxed, and ready for shut eye.
In Ayurveda, Pitta dosha is active from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. During the day, Pitta energy helps you focus and get things done. At night, if Pitta is working over time, it interferes with restorative sleep. Have you ever had work dreams? Or dreams where you are in conflict in a personal relationship? Unfortunately, if you’re still awake – it can spark, not a second wind, but rather a second fire of productivity when we need to be asleep.
Ayurvedic evening rituals help us let go
We all know the feeling of a frantic morning. We hit snooze, hit snooze again, and struggle to catch up the rest of the day. When we clock out and head home, it’s easy to stay in this frantic autopilot. Evening rituals help you break the cycle and reclaim your personal life.
If you recoil at the idea of adding anything else to your to-do list, don’t worry. Evening rituals are simply pathways to a supportive natural rhythm. You don’t need to follow a strict regimen; integrating even one or two of the following habits can change your life.
“We need to save ourselves. If we don’t, who will? If not now? When?” Receiving guidance specific to you will provide the greatest return on investment. A few simple, correct adjustments in lifestyle, result in significant improvements in mental and physical health. Read our client testimonials and see what changes our clients have created in their lives.” – Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Eat an intentional dinner
Too often, life drags us straight from work to dinner. We grab food on the run, or throw together whatever is easiest, turn on the TV, and tune out. But evening meals are a powerful opportunity to slow down, unwind, and connect.
- Eat 2+ hours before bed: Give your body ample time to digest before you hit the hay. Late-night meals can cause indigestion and bathroom urges that interfere with sleep.
- Eat something light and healthy: Eat your largest meal midday, when you’re most active. At dinnertime, small portions of healthy foods help ease the body. Start with our ginger carrot soup recipe or a room temperature quinoa salad.
- Disconnect to reconnect: Set down the phone, turn off the TV, and connect with your family or roommates over dinner. Try not to vent about work or other stressors. Instead, find restoration in being present and of pleasant mind with your favorite people.
Make time for gentle movement
Take a peaceful nature walk after dinner to calm your mind and aid digestion. It’s a simple activity with huge benefits. Studies show regular strolls can help prevent issues like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even depression.
Download Walking for Health by Harvard Medical School to learn more about the power in your own two feet.
Gentle stretching is another powerful Ayurvedic evening ritual. These simple yoga poses help relieve stress, soothe nerves, and calm busy minds:
- Viparita Karani (Legs Up Wall)
- Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)
- Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Savasana (Corpse Pose)
As you sink into these resting poses, practice diaphragmatic breathing or listen to a guided meditation.
Brew a sleepytime drink
Some folks like a glass of wine or whiskey to unwind after a long day – but alcohol is actually linked to insomnia. Instead, anchor your evening rhythm with an Ayurvedic bedtime drink. Our calming night milk is a perfect sleep aid. Simply warm one cup of organic milk on the stove, and stir in the following spices:
- ½ cup organic milk
- ¼ teaspoon ginger powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon powder
- ⅛ teaspoon Nutmeg powder
While this calming drink is suitable for all dosha types, an Ayurvedic expert can uncover the best herbal blend for your unique constitution. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.
Massage the day away
Loving self-massage creates an inner haven from outer stressors. Oil massage has many health benefits, even if you have just a few minutes before bed.
Padabhyanga (Foot Massage)
Pressure points in our feet are connected to our whole body. Padabhyanga foot massage can release stress, anxiety, and muscle tension and help improve blood circulation. Warm up coconut oil, ghee, or sunflower oil and coat your ankles and feet. Massage your entire foot – top and bottom – in a circular motion. (Don’t forget the toes!). Put on socks and rubber soled slippers if you have an uncarpeted area to avoid slipping, or wipe your feet off after 15 minutes.
Full Abhyanga Massage
Abhyanga self-massage is an evening ritual that helps shift your whole body into sleep mode. Learn how to perform Abhyanga massage that suits the time and energy you have available. An Ayurvedic consultant can provide a specialized herbal oil for even greater health benefits.
Unwind with aromatherapy
Certain scents trigger physiological responses that can help us fall asleep. Aromatherapy is a fantastic Ayurvedic evening ritual that’s easy to incorporate into your nightly flow. There are several ways to use essential oils:
- Mist your pillow with a spray
- Add a few drops to a warm bath
- Use in a steamy shower (or a cool one if you run hot)
- Disperse with an oil diffuser
- Soak a cotton ball and place by your bedside
While the following oils are always beneficial, certain scents are more balancing for the each dosha:
- Vata: warm, sweet, and sour aromas. This includes: lavender; rose; clove; patchouli; and vanilla.
- Pitta: sweet and cooling. This includes sandalwood and jasmine.
- Kapha: warm, spicy, and stimulating. This includes camphor; juniper; eucalyptus; marjoram; and clove.
Practice healthy sleep hygiene
Tomorrow started yesterday; and proper sleep hygiene is the key to a good night’s rest. Set a regular bedtime to attune your body to a daily rhythm. You can consult an Ayurvedic specialist to determine an ideal hour, but in general, you’ll want to get to bed before 10 p.m.
It’s hard to get shut-eye if you’re still wide awake. Start removing stimulation as you leave work. Practice our 2 minute meditation when you first sit in your car-take a moment to transition and let go. As you get home, continue to signal to yourself that it’s time to wind down. Avoid bright lights, loud music, email communications, and screens (TV, phone, computer) as much as possible after work.
Make your bedroom a sacred sleep space. Keep your phone out of the room (use a regular alarm clock if you need.) Hang darkening shades so street lights and passing cars don’t disturb you. And lower the thermostat to cool down and chill out.
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