Most will agree nature has rhythms and cycles. We can make the choice to go with or against these natural diurnal rhythms. In Ayurveda, living in harmony with these cycles is seen as requisite to healthy living.
Ayurveda has its own clock of sorts, that gives a glance into daily natural rhythms. When I first started learning about this, I have to admit I was skeptical. I don’t have PubMed articles to back this up, and I am not claiming this is sound medical advice. However, after years of taking a step back and trying to be more mindful of my surroundings, I am starting to realize there may be something to this.
As you are reading, if it interests you and you are aware of findings in Circadian Medicine, please think of this in those terms. I’d love to hear about any similarities you find.
Please take this with a grain of salt. My hope is that the following will provide some form of elucidation for you and your own daily rhythms or habits you follow. Maybe alter a few habits to align with the following and see if its a good fit for you.
There are two 12 hour cycles each day, each with 3 smaller cycles of 4 hour blocks:
- Kapha (earth and water, governs immunity and structural strength) 6-10 am and pm
- Pitta (fire, governs metabolism and digestion) 10-2 am and pm
- Vata (air, governs the nervous system) 2-6 am and pm
6a-10a Kapha increases. This is the best time for exercise, as kapha is heavy and sluggish. It’s best to get up before 6a, and engage in early morning activity to get your blood pumping and your body energized.
10a-2p Pitta increases. Pitta is the dosha of heat. During this time of day, heat will naturally rise in our digestion. For this reason, it’s best to eat our largest meal during this time as our digestive fire is burning at its strongest. (Eat later in the day, or eat a big meal in the evening, and your body may have more difficulty processing your meal.)
2p-6p, Vata increases. Vata is made of the elements air and space, and governs the time of transition, creativity, and the ability to problem solve. The nervous system is more active at this time.
Kapha increases again from 6p to 10p. This is the best time to wind down, eat a light, early dinner (avoid heavy food), and settle in for the night to unwind. Ideally lights should be dimmed when it gets dark outside and screens should be avoided (or blue light should be blocked with either installed software or blue blocker glasses!) to get the body ready for sleep.
Pitta increases at 10p-2a. You may find if you’re still awake at this time, you get a “second wind”. This is because the pitta dosha rules energy and activity! If you are already asleep, the activity that now takes place is to repair as the liver engages in detox at this time.
Vata returns from 2a to 6a, marking yet another time of transition. The early morning vata time is not a time of creativity, but rather of receptivity. Ideally one will wake prior to 6a, or whenever sunrise is at that time of year, and start off the day with natural light. Early morning Vata energy provides mobile, clear, ether-like qualities, which can support a strong prayer, writing, or meditation practice.
This is a simplified explanation of the Ayurveda daily clock. Does any of this resonate with you? Have read up on any findings in Circadian Medicine and if so, what alignments do you see? I welcome your thoughts!
Learn more healthy living tips on the Shift Functional Medicine blog!