Ayurvedic Morning Routine – 6 Rituals For A Calm And Centered Day
According to Ayurveda, dinacharya – or daily routine – is integral to our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Making space for meaningful rituals helps us ride the waves of energetic shifts throughout the day. An Ayurvedic morning routine lays the foundation for a grounded, focused day. Here’s how to tune into the rhythm of the universe from the moment you open your eyes.
Why build an Ayurvedic morning routine?
Our lives are a reflection of the small choices we make each day – how we treat ourselves, spend our time, and direct our energy. Unfortunately, in our busy modern world, it’s easy to feel spread thin or swamped with endless obligations. When we’re stressed and overwhelmed, we don’t always make the best decisions for our physical and mental health. This trends our bodies towards illness and imbalance over time. As a result, we may develop “lifestyle diseases” like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. We might just also feel blah, disconnected, and uninspired. An Ayurvedic morning routine sets the tone for a healthy, centered day. It doesn’t need to be complicated. By creating a few rituals that work for you, you can harness the energetic rhythm of the day for greater overall well-being.
Doshic Energy and Your Ayurvedic Morning Routine
An Ayurvedic morning routine aligns us with the changing doshic energies in our environments. In Ayurveda, the three doshas – Pitta, Kapha, and Vata – dominate different hours of the day. Small daily rituals, done at an intentional hour, help us flow with these bio-energetic forces – rather than struggle against them.
Vata: 2 a.m. – 6 a.m. (and 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.)
Airy Vata rules the wee hours of the morning. Waking up at peak Vata hour helps us rise with greater vigor. These early hours are a great time to eliminate and detoxify, as well as perform grounding practices like meditation and breathwork.
Kapha: 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. (and 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.)
Try to start your day before heavy Kapha rolls around. Otherwise, it can be a bit like waking in molasses, and you may feel off and dull throughout the day. Kapha energy is best harnessed for knocking mundane items off your to-do list – or getting the heart pumping with a bit of light exercise.
“Waking before Kapha kicks in, we catch the natural movement of Vata, and our minds are clearer, and our energy is increased.” – Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Pitta: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (and 10 p.m. – 2 a.m)
Vigorous Pitta energy is ruled by fire and water. Make the most of Pitta by using these hours for focused productivity. For instance, if accounting is challenging, do it between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. when Pitta’s sharp mental qualities are at their strongest.
Ayurvedic Morning Routine: 6 Rituals to Start Your Day
The most important part of an Ayurvedic morning routine? Do what feels best for you. It’s about finding a few key rituals that provide you the most support – not following a set of rules. You can think of your Ayurvedic morning routine as six simple rituals:
- Wake at a supportive hour
- Cleanse and clear
- Ground and breathe
- Eat a dosha-balancing breakfast
- Get moving!
- Take your herbs
1. Wake at a Supportive Hour
The hour at which you rise is one of the most important principles of an Ayurvedic morning routine. When we wake at the most supportive time, we catch a wave of energy versus struggling and swimming upstream.
The ideal wake-up schedule varies by dosha and with the seasons. But, in general:
Vata-dominant types should wake up by 6:00 a.m.
Pitta-dominant types should wake up by 5:30 a.m.
Kapha-dominant types should wake up by 4:30 am
If you start your day before sunrise, you can harness the light and expansive quality of Vata hour. Vata rules movement and helps get us going. Spending just a few moments in this energy can spark a powerful shift in your day. After waking, take a few deep breaths and welcome your body, mind, and spirit into another day. Connect with your breath with gentle diaphragmatic breathing – which nostril is more open? You may also take a moment to self-reflect, express gratitude, or journal.
2. Cleanse and Clear
Just as we sweep the entryway to our home, it’s important to cleanse our bodies and minds. The following rituals help clear gunk – or ama – in our system. These practices are best done just after sunrise when Kapha’s grounding energy aids purification and self-care. Normal morning activities become cleansing rituals when we infuse them with intention. As you brush your teeth, wash your face, bathe, or drink a glass of warm water – consider how they purify and rejuvenate your energetic life force.
Have you ever stuck your tongue out in the mirror and noticed a filmy white coating? This is a buildup of ama, or toxins. Daily tongue scraping helps remove bacteria, improves bad breath, and keeps our body from reabsorbing this harmful oral gunk. It also provides a gentle – yet stimulating – massage of the internal organs.
Another way to cleanse oral ama is by oil pulling. You can think of oil pulling as an Ayurvedic mouthwash that supports a clear mind and healthy sinuses. The process is simple:
- Put one tablespoon of sesame oil or coconut oil in your mouth
- Begin swishing the oil through your teeth and gums as you would any mouthwash
- Continue swishing for 15 – 20 minutes (you can start with five minutes and work up)
- If your oil quickly changes color and consistency, spit it out and start again the next day. Otherwise, you’ll be swishing with – and recirculating – ama gunk.
- After swishing, spit the oil in the trash or toilet (spitting in the sink can clog your drain)
- Take care not to swallow to avoid re-ingesting the toxins and bacteria.
Daily Abhyanga massage is an expression of self-love. Beyond this, the benefits are many. It nourishes your body and skin, aids circulation, eliminates impurities, and balances your body, mind, and spirit.
“One should practice Abhyanga as a meditation. As you massage, observe the experience. The movement of the hands. The feel of the warm oil. The relaxation of the muscles during the massage. The flow and sensation of the breath.” -Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Nasya oil treatment is a form of inner-cleansing that involves applying herbalized oils to our nasal passages. Nasya oil is infused with herbs that support the sinus, nose, throat, and head and balance all doshas, particularly Vata. A regular Nasya treatment supports our overall well-being. Anointing our nose lubricates the nasal passages and provides subtle moisture to our breath. It can also help with allergies and sinus conditions and boost focus and mental clarity.
3. Move, Breathe, and Reflect
Yog-asana refers to the physical postures of yogic practice. Morning yog-asana stimulates the digestive fire and prepares your body for a healthy breakfast. It also releases stress and tension and energizes the body and mind. Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) is the chief morning yog-asana. This series of 12 gentle poses opens you to greet and internalize the sun into your own system.
According to Harvard Health, walking offers several health-promoting benefits, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and relieving depression.
How we breathe changes how energy – or prana – moves through our bodies. All dosha types can benefit from two basic pranayama, or breathwork practices: diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing (Nadi shodhana).
To make pranayama part of your Ayurvedic morning routine, start with regular diaphragmatic breathing. Once you’ve established a strong practice, add alternate nostril breathing to your morning ritual. (Sequence is key: Nadi shodhana should be performed after diaphragmatic breathwork.) Learn how to perform diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing. These simple pranayama techniques are accessible to all.
Morning meditation helps you awaken and carry a relaxed awareness throughout your day. Pranayama prepares the body to go deeper into the meditative state, so meditation is best done following breathwork (even a few minutes counts!)
“It is the quality of the pranayama breathwork that is important, not the quantity” – Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
Start with Saumya Ayurveda’s two-minute or 11-minute guided relaxation meditations. For those who wish to move deeper into inner stillness, continue on to the 31 Point Blue Star practice. Explore Saumya Ayurveda’s free guided practices.
4. Eat a Dosha-Balancing Breakfast
In Ayurveda, food is medicine. What and how you eat doesn’t just nourish your body. It can shape your entire life.
“When you eat, just eat. Sit down. Quiet yourself by observing your breath for a few inhalations and exhalations. Feel your feet on the ground. Be grateful for your food, and how it will support your health physically, mentally, and spiritually. Chew your food mindfully (rather than gulping it down). Taste it. Enjoy it. Savor the entire experience: both the flavor of the food and the act of eating as a whole.” -Veena, Saumya Ayurveda
For all dosha types, foods are best when cooked, eaten warm, spiced, and freshly made. Beyond this, we benefit from morning meals attuned to our doshic composition.
Vata Breakfast – Dense and Moist
- Stir-fried root vegetables (ex: sweet potato; carrots; beet) with ghee-fried egg
- Oatmeal in plant-based milk; with a pinch of cinnamon and/or cumin, and a touch of maple syrup and/or nut butter
- Stewed fruits (ex: pears or apples) with cinnamon and nutmeg
Pitta Breakfast – Cooling and Dry
- Basmati rice or oatmeal with plant-based milk; topped with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- Whole-grain toast with avocado or fresh fruit preserves
- Chia pudding with plant-based milk and a dash of maple syrup (or other natural sweeteners)
Kapha Breakfast – Light and Dry
- Bitter greens (ex: kale; arugula; chard) lightly sauteed in ghee
- Warm cereals with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
- Fresh seasonal fruit – stewed, juiced, or blended into a smoothie
5. Get Moving!
One of the best rituals you can add to your Ayurvedic morning routine is a brief nature walk after breakfast. Getting outside has numerous health benefits, including reduced stress and depression, improved breathing, and better sleep. A morning walk is perfect for everyone. Vata types can glide along an easy stroll. Pitta types can speed it up a touch. And Kapha types can shake energetic heaviness with a vigorous power walk.
Exercise, even light movement, makes us healthier, stronger, and more energetic. If you can’t get outside, a brief sequence of Qi Gong or Tai Chi can get your blood pumping and clear the mind.
6. Take your Ayurveda herbs
Herbal remedies are a key component of an Ayurvedic morning routine. But the best regimen is laser-specific to each person.
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