How to Fall in Line with Your Daily Ayurvedic Cycle
Nature thrives on cycles based on its own internal rhythms, such as the annual cycle of the seasons and the harvests. When we observe nature, we find that the same cycles we see in the seasons appear in microcosm in the course of a single day. The more closely we can align our own circadian rhythms with the natural flow of the daily cycle, the more we will feel as if we are floating downstream instead of swimming upstream.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
How would you feel if you went to bed at midnight and woke up at 10:00am? Perhaps groggy, stiff or dull. What about if you went to bed at 8:00pm and woke up at 6:00am? Probably chipper! In both instances you would have slept the same amount – 10 hours – and the only difference is when you went to bed and when you woke up. The same principle applies not only for sleeping, but eating as well. When we follow nature’s rhythms, we invariably end up merrily rowing downstream. Muscles are also strongest in the morning, and it is the best time for vigorous exercise.
The Noon Meal
The hottest part of the day, when the sun is climbing to its zenith, is the summer time of the day and when the digestive fires are at their hottest. This is the ideal time to consume a meal large enough to provide fuel for the rest of the day. Try resting on your left side for 5-10 minutes after your meal to facilitate digestion.
Afternoon Brain Waves
In the four-hour period that follows lunch, the body is primed for heavy mental activity. The brain uses about 80 percent of the body’s glycogen, or energy supplies, during this time. If you ate too little at lunch, or at while driving, rushed or distracted, you may feel sleepy, listless or crave emergency fuel.
After the sun sets, digestion and cortisol levels go down, making it difficult to digest a large dinner. A smaller, supplemental (“supper”) meal is ideal around 6:00pm. If you are unable to exercise in the morning, the second best time to workout is after your supplemental meal at 6:00pm. Toward 10:00pm, the body begins to rest and relax as it gears down for sleep.
If you observe yourself for a few nights between 7:00 and 9:00pm, you will probably notice a pleasant drowsiness come over you. If you force yourself to stay up, you may get a burst of energy after 10:00pm that will keep you up into the wee hours. The purpose of increased metabolic activity during this time is to clean blood and repair damaged tissue. If you are awake, changing the world and having midnight snacks, you miss out on this crucial internal cleansing time. Internal cleansing can also be affected if your body is still trying to digest a large evening meal; resources slated for cleansing have to be diverted to digestion.
The very early morning between 2:00 and 6:00am is believed to be most conducive to prayer and meditation in many spiritual traditions, both Eastern and Western. A lightness and quickness characterizes this time; when you arise around 6:00am, you are likely to take on those characteristics, which will balance out the natural heaviness of morning.
Adapted from “The 3-Season Diet” by John Douillard