Dinacharya: The right way to spend your day, according to Ayurveda
Ayurveda has a holistic approach to health which is different from western medicine, which focuses on diseases and medications. Prevention of disease is far more important than curing the disease. This requires a comprehensive redefinition of our habits and how we live our everyday lives.
Unsurprisingly, one of the key concepts in Ayurveda is dinacharya, meaning daily regimen, which prescribes a range of healthy lifestyle tips - hygienic practices, nutrition and exercise habits to promote health and prevent diseases. If one is looking for ideas on how to live a healthier life, it is integral to learn about dinacharya.
Starting your day on the right note
According to Dinacharya, the best time for a person to wake up is between 3 am and 6 am. This is because the day is divided into six segments in Ayurveda, according to which of the three doshas dominate at different times.
Between 6 am and 10 am, kapha dosha dominates, making a person waking up at this time feel sluggish and slow to wakefulness and activity. Between 10 am and 2 pm, pitta dosha dominates, making a person who wakes in this interval feel more antagonistic and impatient. On the other hand, a person who wakes up during the vata dosha dominant time before 6 am feels energised and wakeful and animated.
Eat early, eat right
One of the primary aspects of dinacharya is ahara sevana or eating. Traditional Ayurvedic texts advise us to only eat twice a day, preferably at mid-morning and late-evening before the sun sets. While we may modify this advice to our extended days, thanks to electricity, it is still advisable to complete our dinner earlier in the evening.
Ayurveda also advises us to eat moderately and include a variety of foods in our diets. Thus, the principle of sarvagraha tells us that one-third of the stomach should be filled with solid food, one-third with liquids and one-third left empty. And the principle of parigraha advises to consume a mix of foods including anna (cereal) in kudava matra, supa (pulses) in pala matra, mamsa (lean meats) in dvipala matra, and so on.
Cleansing the body with ablutions
Apart from food, there are several other aspects of living and healthy lifestyle tips which dinacharya talks about.
Once one has woken up energised, dinacharya recommends a series of ablutions to cleanse the body and maintain hygiene and fitness.
Thus, danta dhavana or brushing the teeth with a tikta(bitter) or kashaya (astringent) substances cleanses the mouth. Anjana or applying an eye salve like kajal rejuvenates the eyes. Navana or application of nasal drops cleanses the nostrils. Gandusha or gargling cleanses the throat. Dhuma or inhalation of smoke cleanses the respiratory tract. Tambula sevana or chewing betel leaves with cardamom, clove, areca nut and lime helps the digestive tract.
Abhyanga or oil massage, particularly with sesame oil on the head, ears and the undersides of the feet reduces vata and decreases exhaustion and acts as an anti-ageing measure. It also contributes to good vision, nourishment of body tissues, good sleep, and healthy skin.
Vyayama or mild exercise promotes lightness in the body, increases the ability to do work, improves digestive capability and burns off excessive fat, providing a stable physique to the person.
Udvartana or the application of dry powders such as besan and green gram powder on the skin reduces kapha, helps in exfoliation of dead skin cells, removes excess oil, helps remove excess fat, and improves skin health.
Snaana or bathing in warm water improves appetite and strength, increases life span, cleanses the skin, reduces exhaustion, stupor and so on.
At a time when all of us are being alert about the possibility of infection, Ayurveda has much-needed advice on daily habits that can promote hygiene, boost immunity and prevent illness. Turning to these traditional practices and healthy lifestyle tips can be a great route to good health.
The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.