Since beginning to practice Ayurveda, adherence to Dinacharya (daily routine) has been the thing that has probably brought the most balance to my life. When I get out of step with this routine it can throw everything off kilter. Despite being primarily Pitta dosha, I also have a fair amount of Vata dosha. This means I am prone to anxiety and spaciness, so I've often found that having a stable routine helps keep that in check.
Dinacharya is one of the most important practices no matter what your dosha. It moves with the natural cycle of the day and therefore attunes you to nature's cycle as well as your own. Following this Ayurvedic daily routine will help improve digestion, discipline and bring balance to your life. The basic cycle looks the same for everybody with a few adjustments depending on your dosha.
Wake Up with the Sun
Perhaps the most obvious imitation of nature's cycle, waking up with the sun is truly lovely even if somewhat unreasonable for many. Vata dosha is dominant during this time of day and it is therefore a great time to meditate, to change or heal negative patterns, and to cleanse the mind. If you are not a morning person this will likely be one of the more difficult rules to follow, but I highly recommend trying it at least once and then possibly making it part of a weekly or monthly routine.
This rids the body of toxins. If you have trouble pooping in the morning, try drinking warm water with lemon and just sitting or squatting on the toilet. Eventually your body will figure it out :)
You want to scrape the tongue in the morning w/ a tongue scraper. Scrape from the top to the bottom a couple of times. This also helps rid the body of toxins.
If you aren't sure what a neti pot is or how to use one this is a really good resource. This is really great for allergies and, again, for getting rid of any toxins that might lingering.
Drink Warm Water with Lemon
Lemon is purifying AND helps you to absorb water. This is a great practice in the morning to replenish water lost during sleep and to give your body a clean, healthy start.
My favorite! Abhyanga is a self oil massage meant to build ojas, or immunity, in the body. It also improves circulation and is just generally luxurious and soothing. Another really great way to start your day.
Engage in light to moderate exercise. In the summer it will be best to do 15 minutes of light yoga or go for a nice walk. In the winter you can add more intensity. I am a runner and cyclist and find this to be one of the hardest things to stick to. I often run at lunch and cycle or run after work. I am not willing to give up these practices so I try to make sure to sandwich them with really cooling and relaxing activities. This probably isn't the best Ayurvedically speaking, but I bring it up because I am an imperfect being and want everyone to know that straying from the path is ok. You just need to figure out a way to balance it out.
Take time to meditate in the morning before you start your day. If you are only able to do one thing on the list, this is the one I most highly recommend. Giving yourself just a few minutes to turn inward can have an extremely positive effect on your day, especially if you have something of a hectic lifestyle.
You'll probably want to rinse that oil off. Also, ya know, hygiene.
Somewhere between 7:00am-9:00am - Eat Breakfast.
If that seems like a lot to fit into one morning, that's because it is. It is possible, but you might just want to try a few things at a time and slowly build up. The morning routine has the most stuff in it. The rest of the day gets easier :)
11:00am - 1:00pm - Eat Lunch
Just like this is the time where the ball of fire in the sky is the most intense - this is also the time when the fire in you belly is the most intense. Your digestion is strongest during this Pitta dominated time of day and you should eat your biggest meal of the day at this time.
5:30pm - 7:00pm -Eat Dinner
It is ideal to eat dinner before the sun goes down. This is easy in the summer and crazy talk in the winter time considering most of us work past dark at that time of the year. You should eat early enough that you can digest for 2-3 hours before going to bed.
10:00pm-ish - Go to Bed
Try to turn off all media at least an hour before bedtime. You might also meditate again about an hour or so before bed. Get yourself into a relaxed body and mind so that when you get into your bed you are ready to fall asleep.
If you are able, try to follow the entire routine at least once - just to see how even just one day of it treats you. Otherwise, try just a few and maybe slowly add others in. You will start to learn which parts of the routine affect you the most. When you are short on time you can make sure to do at least those and skip out on others. Most importantly don't be hard on yourself if you can't do any of it, or if you skip days or weeks at a time. It is called a practice because it takes practice and involves changing lots of deeply ingrained habits. Above all, as I've said a billion times before and will say a billion times more, Ayurveda is practice of self-love. Do your best, but don't be hard on yourself when it isn't coming together.
Let me know how any and/or all of the practices go! What did you find to be the easiest? The most difficult? What was the most enjoyable? I look forward to hearing from all of you!