Dinacharya, a daily routine involving specific Ayurvedic healing practices, can offer surprising and profound potential to heal our lives, relationships, illness–even lifelong tendencies that cause us physical or emotional discomfort like anxiety and insomnia.
Ancient Ayurvedic texts place special emphasis on the importance of a morning routine, and give specific instructions involving each sense organ. The sense organs relate to the manovahasrotas–the channel system of the mind. When we learn to purify the sense organs on a daily basis, our mind and body are renewed and stubborn patterns change, facilitating deep transformation in our lives.
Translated loosely to mean “getting closer to the day,” here is one way to order the aspects of a dinacharya routine:
1. Wake early, around sunrise or just before. Empty your bladder, and bowels if easy. This is something much of our culture has difficulty with, and waking up during Vata time (which governs elimination) can be a huge and simple first step to having naturally regular bowel movements.
2. Brush your teeth, and scrape your tongue. Swish 1 tsp coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 5-20 minutes.
3. Drink warm/hot water with a splash of lime juice. This is a simple way to kick-start digestion for the day, and flush the stomach, kidneys and liver. You may also opt to chew an aromatic spice, such as a cardamom pod or fennel seeds to freshen breath, whiten teeth and again, aid in digestive juices flowing. Lime juice is less heating than lemon juice.
4. Rinse your eyes with rosewater or use rosewater eyedrops.
6. Dry brushing and/or self massage with warm oil. Plain, organic sesame is fine, an herbalized oil for your imbalance or constitutional type is much better. Put on old clothes and stay warm to let the oil sink into your skin. See my abhyanga video and article for more information.
7. Meditate for 20 minutes. Alternate nostril breathing or light yoga for 10 minutes.
8. Bathe or shower. Do neti pot in the shower or before the shower, but not every day.
9. Apply medicated nasal oil and sesame or ear oil to your ears.
10. Eat a warm moist breakfast that will carry you through to lunch.
My Gentle Home Cleanse and the Cap-City Cleanse are all about practicing and learning dinacharya, taking time for deeper practices, to see what can stick with you for the long run. And yes, a little bit about eating kitchari, and other great Food as Medicine recipes.
Sometimes dinacharya feels like work, like slogging through mud to get it all in. In my experience, starting slow and returning to slow is most realistic and effective. Choosing to perhaps just drink warm water, and meditate for 5 minutes before opening your phone or computer can shift your outlook. You’ll feel good, and want more…then wake up early to fit in more. Note also that working with an Ayurveda practitioner can help you decide which aspects of dinacharya are most important to include for you.