We as humans are rhythmic beings. We feel best when we live in rhythms and tune these rhythms to nature. After all, we are part of that same nature. Ayurveda also recognizes the rhythms of nature and divides the day into 6 parts, where in each part a certain dosha dominates. This way, Ayurveda gives you a methodology to align yourself with the rhythm of nature, resulting in a healthier and happier body and mind. By adjusting our meals, sleep-wake rhythm, and general activities to the cycle of doshas, you restore balance in your body. This benefits your health, your energy level, your hormone balance, and your mood!
The biological clock is also called the circadian rhythm in Western science. Your body’s circadian functions show a pattern that is repeated daily. Examples of functions that follow these patterns are your temperature, the secretion of certain hormones, your heart rhythm, your sleep patterns, and your eating and drinking patterns. These patterns correspond to the rhythms of the doshas as we recognize them in Ayurveda. As such, modern science and Ayurveda agree; we are inherently rhythmic beings, there are patterns that we are part of. Staying in rhythm with those patterns gives us a smooth ride through the day and through life.
Getting up in Vata time
According to Ayurveda, the last part of the night, the hours before sunrise, is Vata time. You can probably feel this when you’re awake around this time. Nature comes in transition from sleep to a waking state and there’s an expectant energy in the air. Vata consists of the elements ether and air and this results in lightness during these hours. This is also why many people wake up spontaneously during this time, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. If you wake up too early, this can nevertheless also be a sign that your Vata is out of balance. But ideally you’ll get up in Vata time, about 35 minutes before sunrise. That way your physical and mental body go along with the flow of natural energy, and it’ll be much easier to maintain this flow throughout the day. Moreover, the energy of these hours is ideal for your spiritual practice; meditate, journal, read an inspiring book or do a nice Yoga Nidra. That’s how you start your day all Zen.
The morning is Kapha time
After sunrise is Kapha’s turn. This Kapha phase lasts approximately from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Kapha is the Dosha of water and earth. This means that the energy of this part of the day is heavy, slow, and cool. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to get up during this time, as you take this energy with you into the day. You might have experienced this when you sleep a little too long or fall asleep again after waking up for a while. Now that you recognize the qualities of this part of the day, you may also understand why this is a good time to exercise. Why you shouldn’t eat too heavy (yes, yogurt and cake are not a great idea) and why you shouldn’t start a difficult project of your work that requires creativity and mental effort. Update your mailbox, do your routine jobs or more physical work or have a conversation with that difficult person. Chances are that in these hours you’ll feel most calm and grounded and, in a loving way, won’t let anyone walk all over you.
Pitta is fire
After Kapha time, it is Pitta time, with the elements fire and water. Pitta time is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In these hours, the sun reaches its highest point and your inner sun is also at its best, referring to your digestive fire. It’s advisable to eat your lunch in this timeframe and make this the heaviest meal of your day. At the same time, during these hours, you want to avoid spirited conversations, so as not to fan the fire too much and detonate things. Good things to do? Start with a difficult project in the late morning, have lunch, and take a break after your lunch.
Creative with Vata
At the end of the afternoon, the Vata energy around you and in your body becomes stronger again. This period lasts from 2 to 6 p.m. This is a time of movement and change. Many people get a creative spark in the end of the afternoon, especially if you have been living in sync with nature earlier in the day. After this spike of Vata energy, it’s time to slow down to a quieter evening energy. Not a good time for coffee, heavy sports, difficult conversations or heavy meals. End Vata time with a quiet activity such as a walk in nature, yoga or meditation, to start your evening completely relaxed. Surround yourself with the warmth of loved ones or love for yourself.
Relax in the evening
And then it’s time for Kaphavagain. The body begins to secrete melatonin and prepare naturally for sleep. Eat a light meal at the beginning of Kapha time, so you have time to fully digest it before bedtime. This is ideally a lighter meal than lunch, because digestion is weaker during this period. After a quiet evening program, it is advisable to go to bed. Let the heaviness and coolness of Kapha lull you to sleep gently. Resist the urge to stay up longer to have more time for yourself, you won’t do yourself any favor at all. After 10 p.m., Pitta time returns and you often get an energy boost and urge to snack. If you go to sleep during this period, your sleep will be much more elusive and of poorer quality.
Pitta also digests your day
Ideally, you should sleep during this second Pitta period. This is important as Pitta’s fire not only transforms and digests your food, but also all of the impressions you receive through your senses during the day. The liver processes the toxins that have accumulated during the day and the mind will digest the experiences and emotions of the day. While you are sleeping, your body is working hard to process everything and restore balance. It is therefore not a good idea to burden her with heavy meals in the evening, stimulants or alcohol. Of course, enjoying those things every now and then is fine, but by honoring the wisdom of your body you’ll stay healthy and happy for longer!
The times I mentioned in this article are more or less the time frames when the days have as many hours as the nights. Of course, this is not always the case. If you want to calculate the cycles of the doshas yourself, you may divide the number of hours of light by 3 and the number of hours of darkness by 3. In autumn/winter time, the time frames of the doshas are therefore shorter during the day, and Kapha time starts a little later in the morning than in summer.