One who is established in Self, who has balanced doshas, balanced agni, properly formed dhatus, proper elimination of malas, well functioning bodily processes, and whose mind, soul, and senses are full of bliss, is called a healthy person.
-Ayurvedic Definition of Health
(Sushruta Samhita, 15.38)
Most people are blocked from their Source. Source here will be defined as our direct connection to perfect health and well-being, our radiance, or all that we aspire, desire, and require. This disconnect can be called dis-ease. It manifests as discomfort or as pain, it can be physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual. A major symptom of this is unhappiness, because we are not well. Perfect health is not a gift, it is our God given right. We did not come here, to Earth to suffer. We came to offer ourselves. When we are unhappy, sick, or diseased, we are unable to carry out our life purpose. Dis-ease pulls us out of balance and defeats our life purpose.
Ayurveda is a medical science and its purpose is to heal and to maintain the quality and longevity of life. The Ayurvedic daily routine is called the Dinacharya. Din means ‘day’ and acharya means ‘to follow’ or ‘close to’. To be ‘close to the day’ in this respect actually means to merge your daily cycle with the natural cycle of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and the other planets in our Solar System. The reason for this is that our most healthy and happy state is our most natural state.
Most people are out of balance. Balance is not something that is achieved, it is a constant ‘balancing act’. As the seasons change and the stages of life change, we must change with them to be balanced. Imbalance can occur on all levels, usually when symptoms occur on the physical level, they have already occurred on the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels prior to physical manifestation. It is the physical discomfort that seems to motivate people to take action and address issues.
Our culture is conditioned to go to a doctor when they feel pain, and most of our Western doctors are too specialized to design a plan that includes elimination of the cause, treatment of the condition, rebuilding of the body and the continuing support of a rejuvenation program and often prescribe medication to address symptoms. After taking medication, the symptoms may subside, and the root of the problem was not addressed. It is highly likely that while bringing something into balance through medication, it can cause weakness or imbalance somewhere else.
The Ayurvedic approach is to keep the body in balance through right diet, lifestyle, and herbs. It requires us to be highly involved in our wellness management. It is a proactive approach to avoid disease by going to the root, the cause of our health issue. Dinacharya is one of the best things that we can do to stay in balance and prevent disease. This daily routine is considered a stronger healing force than any other curative medicine.
A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one’s constitution. It also regularizes.
-Dr. Vasant Lad
Let us explore this daily routine in detail.
Waking, rising before sunrise is ideal. This is the most fresh and pure time of the day. By rising before sunrise you will have more energy throughout the day than rising after sunrise.
Brush your teeth, scrape your tongue, and drink warm water upon rising. Scrape your tongue with a tongue cleaner to purify your mouth and sense of taste. You can monitor the condition of your body by observing the white coating of your tongue every morning. The white coating is an indication of toxins in the body and we want less of this on the tongue and in the body. Drinking a glass of warm water upon rising aids elimination.
Abhyanga is the name for oil massage. This is a self-massage with sesame oil and is one of the main ways that keep us strong and it slows down the aging process. A major part of aging is the drying out of the tissue that results in slower transport of nutrients into the cell and body and toxic wastes out of the body. Oil massage removes this dryness and stagnation from tissues and organs, promotes lymphatic flow and nurtures your mind and your body. It also makes your skin look great! Follow with a bath or shower trying not to use soap all over you body just under the arms and private areas.
Move your body, exercise. Yoga, walking, biking swimming, anything you enjoy! This early morning exercise removes stagnation in the body, mind, strengthens the digestive fire, reduces fat and gives you an overall feeling of lightness and joy as it fills your body with fresh breath, good Prana.
Eat enough for breakfast to get you to lunch. Eat wholesome unrefined food, foods closest to their natural state. This minimizes calories and maximizes nutrients.
Eat lunch between 11:30 and 1:30. This is the main meal of the day so eat a hearty, healthy, nutritious meal. Try to eat fresh food and avoid frozen and boxed foods. Eat enough at lunch to get you to dinner. If you feel you must snack, have a piece of fruit.
Supper is short for supplemental –soups, salads, grains, vegetables. This meal should be lighter than lunch. Try to avoid eating a heavy meal that is hard to digest before bed.
Bedtime is by 10pm, so you are well rested and ready to rise with the Sun. It is important to wind down around 9pm rather than starting projects and gearing up. It will be easier to fall asleep. If we do not do this, than we can become over productive and over stimulated, feel awake, stay up late and have a hard time getting up in the morning.
Ayurveda concentrates on the prevention and understanding of one’s own makeup and focuses on how the outer world and environment affects one’s daily life. The goal of Ayurveda is to teach people how to attain optimal health through a deeper understanding of themselves and their own particular nature in relationship to the world around them. It is a system based on natural healing through strengthening the body, mind, and spirit and allowing the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to work to their fullest potential.
Hippocrates said, “Food is medicine”. In Ayurveda eating food before the previous meal is digested is considered one of the main causes of disease. We want to digest our food well, so it is best to put it on a hot fire and hunger indicates that you have one ready to go. If our digestive fire is too high, then food is overcooked. If our digestive fire is too low, then food is undercooked. For this reason, it is important to keep our digestive fire balanced and working optimally to get the most from our food
Take time to eat your meals at a table without TV or telephone distractions. Bless your food. A beautiful prayer to use before your meal is, “I bless this food to nourish my body, mind, and spirit”. Chew your food eighteen times and savor the taste before swallowing. Keeping the body in balance through right diet is an important factor in our Dinacharya.
Following are the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha Pacifying Diets. After you explore your constitution, what elements you are made up of, a balancing diet is suggested.
VATA PACIFYING DIET
Vata has the qualities of Ether and Air so we want to favor foods that are warm, heavy, and oily and that have the tastes of sweet, sour, and salty.
Minimize foods that are cold, dry, and light and that have the tastes of spicy, bitter, and astringent.
Fruit-most fruit is good. Avoid dried fruit, apples (raw), melons, and cranberries.
Vegetables-cooked is preferred. Avoid too many raw vegetables, mushrooms, and lettuce.
Grains-favor basmati rice, brown rice, oats, and wheat. Dry grains, granola, corn chips, barley buckwheat, corn, millet, and rye may cause difficulties.
Beans-mung beans are good. Small beans and tofu are generally good but can sometimes cause difficulty in excess. Avoid fava beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, lentils, and split peas.
Nuts and Seeds-all nuts and seeds are good, except in excess.
Oils-all oils are generally good, particularly sesame, almond, and ghee.
Dairy products-all dairy products are good, particularly those that are sour, such as buttermilk, and plain yogurt.
Sweeteners-all sweeteners are okay in moderation, but processed white sugar should be avoided in excess.
Condiments-all condiments are good, including spices, salt, pickles, and vinegar.
Animal products-all animal precuts are generally good for grounding Vata. Fish, eggs, and chicken are better than red meats.
PITTA PACIFYING DIET
Pitta has the qualities of Fire and Water so we want to favor foods that have a cooling nature and have tastes that are sweet, bitter, and astringent.
Minimize foods that are sour, salty, and spicy. Acidic foods like coffee and tomato sauce should be avoided as well as alcohol, fried foods, and processed foods.
Fruit-sweet and astringent fruits are good, such as apples, cranberries, and dates, among others. Avoid sour fruits.
Vegetables- most vegetables are fine. Some may cause difficulty, such as beets, carrots, chard, and eggplant. Avoid chilies, garlic, onions, pickles, and radishes.
Grains-favor basmati rice, oats, wheat, corn, and granola. Brown rice, buckwheat, millet, rye, and corn chips may cause difficulty.
Beans-most beans are fine, including tofu.
Nuts and seeds-pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and soaked almonds may cause difficulty. Avoid most nuts and seeds, except coconut and sunflower.
Oils-butter, coconut, ghee, corn, sunflower, and olive are good in moderation. Avoid all other oils.
Dairy products-favor sweet dairy, especially milk, cream cheese, and cottage cheese. Cultured dairy may cause difficulty.
Sweeteners-all sweeteners are good except honey, naturally refined sugar, and molasses in excess.
Condiments-are to be avoided, including spices, salt, and vinegar. Exceptions are coriander, cumin, fennel, mint, turmeric, and soy sauce in moderation.
Animal products-generally avoided except egg whites and white meat.
KAPHA PACIFYING DIET
Kapha has the qualities of Earth and Water so we want to favor foods that are light, dry, and warm and tastes that are bitter, astringent, and pungent.
Minimize foods that are heavy, sweet, and oily and tastes that are sweet, sour, and salty.
Fruit-dried fruit, apples, cranberries, raisins, and prunes are good. Avoid sweet fruits.
Vegetables-astringent and pungent vegetables are good, such as alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, and bell peppers among others. Cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, squash, spinach, and tomatoes may cause difficulty. Avoid okra and sweet potatoes.
Grains-favor barley, buckwheat, corn, and rye. Millet, rice, and granola may cause difficulty. Avoid oats and wheat.
Beans-all beans are good, particularly soybeans, but tofu can aggravate high Kapha conditions.
Nuts and seeds-favor pumpkin and sunflower seeds. All others should be avoided.
Oils-bitter, coconut, ghee, corn, sunflower, and olive are fine in moderation. Avoid all other oils. Mild should be avoided except goat milk or small quantities of buttermilk. Soy milk is preferred.
Dairy products-sweet dairy, especially milk, cream cheese, and cottage cheese are fine. Cultured dairy may cause difficulty.
Sweeteners-should be avoided except raw honey.
Animal products-should be avoided. Chicken, eggs, and fish are fine in moderation.
Digestion is a subtle process that transforms food into consciousness. Here are ten important dietary habits to avoid:
Eating without real hunger.
Drinking fruit juice or excess water or no water during a meal
Drinking chilled water at any time
Eating when constipated or emotionally disturbed
Eating before 7am
Eating too much heavy food or too little light food
Snacking on anything except fruit between meals
Eating incompatible food combinations, such as fruit with a meal
Kimberly Rossi, 700 RYT, Certified Ayurvedic Consultant
Kimberly is currently the Spa Director at The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan and has been teaching fitness for over twenty years in leading health clubs and recognized spas across the US and in Europe. Her expertise has been working with all levels of experience, making things easy to follow, safe, and comfortable for the beginner, and leading those with experience to their edge, creating a deeper, more meaningful practice. She is a 700 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance and a Certified Yoga Teacher and Ayurvedic Consultant by Kripalu Center for Health and the Kundalini Research Institute. She offers Lifestyle Consultations and Yoga Classes tailored to your special needs, cultivating perfect health and balance.
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