Dinacharya refers to the daily regime followed by an individual. Dina – means day, and Charya- means regime/routine. This regime is an Ayurvedic way to a long and healthy life. In the olden days, when there were no gadgets as simple as the clock, even to tell time, people only followed the circadian rhythm which is the body clock. The sun cycle and the moon cycle were the only two parameters on which all the daily activities were dependent
A fixed daily routine is highly beneficial to maintain good health. It helps to regularize a person’s biological clock. Following a set daily routine is the key to live a disciplined life. It not only has physical health benefits but also helps to improve mental and social wellbeing.
Ayurveda has divided the sun and the moon cycles into Dosha specific periods. These Vata, Pitta and Kapha Doshas have their dominant window of hours throughout the day. Preventing doing activities that aggravate the specific Dosha in their dominant time is advised, similarly, to pacify the imbalanced Dosha, accurate treatment is done during its natural dominant time. It is as follows:
- Sunrise to Sunset – 6 am to 6 pm roughly
Kapha: 6 am to 10 am
Pitta: 10 am to 2 pm
Vata: 2 pm to 6 pm
- Sunset to Sunrise – 6 pm to 6 am roughly
Kapha: 6 pm to 10 pm
Pitta: 10 pm to 2 am
Vata: 2 am to 6 am
In accordance with the above natural cycles, the Ayurvedic daily routine is designed in such a way that it maintains and preserves health, prevents diseases, acts in a therapeutic way when needed and enables an individual to enjoy the best quality of life.
Ayurvedic lifestyle encompasses the following points to be followed as a regime or Dinacharya:
- Brahma Muhurta Rising – Early rising, ideally one must wake up 2 hours before the sunrise, so the best time to get up in the morning is in between 3.30 am to 5.30 am.
- Elimination – Natural urge for elimination of urine, stool is observed on rising. If not, then it should not be forcefully induced, and it should not even be suppressed.
- Brushing of teeth – Cleaning of teeth should be done by using bitter tasting herbs such as Neem. This helps to remove the bad taste and gives strength to gums.
- Tongue scraping – Cleaning the tongue after brushing with a natural spatula made of wood or copper helps to remove excess mucous and improves salivation.
- Mouthwash- Oil or medicated decoction pulling or swishing around the mouth and is to be spat out. This helps to reduce cavities, plaque formation and bad breath.
- Nasal drop administration- Nasya is the Ayurvedic term for inserting 1-2 drops of medicated oil in the nostrils. It helps to clear the nasal passage.
- Medicated Smoking– Inhalation of medicated smoke generated by burning herbs is useful to clear the respiratory passages.
- Abhyanga – Body massage with medicated oil, commonly used is Sesame seed oil. This helps to improve blood circulation and keeps the skin soft.
- Exercise – This is a daily practice which is to be done considering body strength. Exercise duration should be till one starts sweating and only as per half the strength capacity of an individual.
- Bath – Ideally, one should wait for half an hour after exercise and then bathe. It is said it helps to improve the quality of sleep and promotes hair growth. Bath should always be taken with luke-warm water and head should be washed with cold water.
- Food intake – Meals should always be taken when previously taken meal is digested. One should not overindulge in food; it should always be a balanced meal with all tastes in moderation. Food should be taken only after having a bath. It should be warm, freshly cooked, and easy to digest. Eating betel leaves or mouth freshener is recommended after meals to improve digestion.
- Good conduct – As an individual is done with following all the above, he/she is advised to follow Sadvritta which is a code of conduct laid by Ayurvedic texts. This refers to many things such as personal hygiene, good social behavior, adopting non-violence and not engaging in aggressive incidences etc. This is the foundation of good mental wellbeing and achieving peace of mind.
- Sleep quality – Nidra refers to sleep, which is recommended after the sun sets. Dinner should be early, before the sun set and 1-2 hours later one should sleep as waking up at the Brahma Muhurta is expected.
These are the basic guidelines mentioned in Ayurveda which promote a healthy balance of all the three Doshas, viz, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Following these guidelines is beneficial to lead a disease-free life
Dinacharya is nothing but an organized self-care routine that can be customized based on individual body composition, age, and nature of work. Although each person has different requirements in terms of physical health, nutrition and psychological health, abiding by a set routine always are beneficial to remain healthy.
This ideal regimen of Ayurvedic dinacharya also changes as per the change in seasons, it is known as Ritucharya, that is, seasonal regimen. The benefits of having a fixed routine help to prevent various lifestyle diseases. Some of the common disorders which can be reversed by following Dinacharya based on Ritucharya (daily regimen based on changes in season) are:
- Metabolic disorders – Obesity, Hypertension and stroke, Diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, elevated blood cholesterol etc can be prevented by eating on time, regular exercise as mentioned in Dinacharya.
- Different types of cancers – intake of dietary antioxidants as well as exercise, yoga helps to build a stronger immune response against cancer.
- Neurological disorders– anxiety, neurosis, insomnia, and various other stress induced conditions are effectively treated by modifying the lifestyle and improving the quality of sleep.
- Digestive disorders– Constipation, incomplete evacuation of bowels, flatulence and gas, indigestion, hyperacidity are the prime health conditions which are seen if one does not have a fixed, regular meal time and sleeping pattern. This can be completely reversed by implementing accurate, person specific lifestyle guidelines.