Ayurvedic Tips and Reminders- What time do you have?

Dear friends,

 "It's finally 'sweater on, then off, then on again' season."

“Time is an Illusion,” is the title of Chris Griscom’s book of the Light Institute in Galisteo, New Mexico- the place Shirley Mclaine visited and became a student of at the beginning of her spiritual quest. While walking in Galisteo in 1992 I found myself down a path to the institute and in delight picked up Griscom’s book on time. Time is elusive, isn’t it? Elusive means difficult to find or catch. Kali, the dark goddess also teaches us about time-“‘Kal’ also translates as Time and ‘i’ means the Cause; Kali, the Cause of Time or She Who is Beyond Time, activates Consciousness to perception, allows Consciousness to perceive.” T.S Elliot says “You are the music while the music lasts.” There’s both spiritual/ eternal time and there is mortal time. Both are weaved together in what we perceive our lives to be. Isn’t that the truth?There’s nothing to fear about time but rather to use our time wisely before we say” where did the time go” or excuses such as”I have no time” or ” “this isn’t the right time”, something we feel intuitively The truth is all we essentially have is this precious time-( not said with remorse but with joy.)

Ayurvedic wisdom teaches us that there is a particular time for everything. For example: warming foods in winter; cooling foods such as watermelon and cucumber in summer.- cleansing foods in the Spring. We’ve been over that( many times). Warming herbs like ashwagandha in winter and turmeric, bitter herbs for spring cleansing. Those are obvious. But how about waking up late and feeling groggy in the morning- what’s the reason? How about staying up past ten pm and wondering why you can’t fall asleep til 2am? or how about waking up at 4am and putting the snooze button on thinking something went wrong?The California College of Ayurveda states” There is a natural ebb and flow within the natural world, including within your own body and mind. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are energetic forces that govern the tides of your life, and if you understand these forces, you can tune into the natural rhythms of the world, and make informed choices to help steer your life into healthful, harmonious directions.

With time springing forward in our daily clocks just a few days ago it is the perfect time to consider the daily rhythms of ayurvedic time and how they correlate to YOUR best health and well being. Just a few weeks ago I shared a blog about daily rituals. I hope the following insights assist you to further your daily activities for more ease and harmony in your life.

Each day, we naturally cycle through the three doshas– Vata, Pitta, Kapha– in 4-hour increments. Each time period is dominated by one dosha and influenced by the qualities of that dosha. When you have this information, you can organize your day so that your activities are supported by the dominant energy inside and around you.

Mornings between 6 and 10am are dominated by Kapha dosha, and Kapha is all about the body, it’s structure ( bones, ligaments, tendons)- earth element. Instead of sleeping during that part of the day, best to get up and move your body. This is a time of day when rigorous exercise is particularly beneficial, and even more so if you have excess Kapha (which can manifest as laziness, sluggishness, excess weight, heaviness, stagnation, difficulty moving forward in your life…). It’s really worth it to make the effort to get up early, because if you sleep in the morning you will feel off all day, and your internal systems won’t run as smoothly and optimally as they could.

For some, morning time is not the height of their natural appetite. This is fine. The dominant energy is Kapha, so eating a big meal full of fatty or heavy foods will only make you feel more sleepy and sluggish. To make the most of this time of day, eat lightly; and if you’re not hungry, save your food intake for an early lunch.  Ayurveda (which is a 5000-year old science) teaches that lunch is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is optional. I know I’ve shared this over and over but knowing and doing are different- I compassionately know it takes time!

Lunchtime is between 10am and 2pm. In that time period, Pitta dominantes. Pitta is the transformative/metabolic fire; it’s what allows us to digest. So this is the time of day when you want to have your biggest meal, because your body will be able to transform the food you give it into fuel and energy more easily than any other time. Lunchtime is when you can eat whatever you feel like in reason of course. Unfortunately, the way Western society is organized, lunch is often eaten on the run,( a Kind bar or smoothie), in a meeting, or quickly. People tend to have small lunches like a sandwich or a salad, and compensate by having big dinners. But this is not the way your body is designed to function. Have a big meal around 11 or 12, which gives your Pitta fire a couple hours to digest it, and then eat more sparingly the rest of the day. Also during this time period when your energy is focused on digestion, it’s best to go through the “errand list”- things that don’t take up mental time.

Next, between 2 and 6pm, comes Vata time- the element of air and space. Vata’s best inclination at this time is toward creative activity. For ex. working on a math problem,  writing, composing music, or anything else that requires brain power and/or creativity. If you already have a tendency to be overly vata– if you process things with your mind a lot, tend to over analyze things, easily feel ungrounded and excited, change your mind a lot or move quickly from one project/activity/relationship to another, then this time of day may be too much vata for you to handle, and you may actually feel sleepy.
 You might want to do things that feel nurturing to you. Drink hot tea, get cozy, slow down, do some long deep breathing if you feel inclined. By pacifying vata ( in other words not blowing with the wind) you are in the best state to take advantage of this vata time of day to be creative, find solutions to problems, reflect, process, without feeling overstimulated by your mind or feel like you are going crazy. Vata is the most delicate of the doshas, the one that is most prone to imbalance; but if you can pay special attention to it in the afternoons, you will reap its wonderful rewards( remember the down time before the kids come home from school)? or if you are working take a walk outside as one woman shared with me in her corporate days.

From 6 to 10pm, we return back to Kapha time. Where the morning Kapha period is for waking up, the evening one is for quieting down. It’s a good time to exercise, but not too vigorously; choose a type of exercise that will help you shake and stretch the stress out of your body without compromising your sleep. Aim to cool yourself down, as opposed to heating yourself up. Yoga, walking or swimming are good options.
A shower, a bath, will also help you relax and relieve stress. Eat dinner early and keep it small(which is easy if you were able to go all out for lunch), and avoid overly fatty and spicy foods, as this will impact your sleep. The lighter you eat in the evening, the more refreshed you will feel the next morning.Experiment when you don’t have social plans at night.
Spend these last hours of the day indulging in your favorite quiet, calming activities like reading, listening to music, meditating, relaxing with your loved ones. Most of us finish our days in front of a tv, movie or computer screen, stimulating our brain activity once again. You will sleep much more soundly and efficiently if you shut your screens down before 9pm- (are you kidding me?).If sleep is the best medicine for the body as Vasant Lad said while on my Ayurvedic training class in India then this is worth considering.
If you play your cards right, you should start to feel sleepy right at the end of Kapha time, and be sound asleep by 10pm. If you are too stimulated or force yourself to stay awake, it might be a few hours before you are able to go to sleep.

At 10pm we enter the second phase of Pitta, the fire energy, which lasts until 2am. Rather than digesting food it’s basically time to digest everything that happened during the day resetting our bodies for the following day. It’s a detox time. This is why it’s crucial to be asleep between 10pm and 2am, so that we don’t hinder the purification process. If you are awake, it’s very likely that you will want to eat, as a reaction to the dominant Pitta energy.But if you eat, you force the Pitta fire to digest your food and divert it from its vitally important cleaning job.

The last phase of our 24-hour body clock is from 2 to 6am. This is Vata time again. This early morning Vata is not for creative endeavors; it’s for being receptive. This is by far the best time of day for meditation, contemplation, prayer, chanting or other spiritual practices. Here’s a visual of our daily clock.

ayurveda body clock

(Credit: http://pathways4health.org)

Reminder; when people speak of the “present” in a spiritual sense, it really means to let go of the past, worries and angsts; to not wander into the future but to absorb yourself in this moment; where there is sheer awareness, love, acceptance, and an open heart.

The Byrds sang it so beautifully To everything (turn, turn, turn) / There is a season (turn, turn, turn) / And a time to every purpose, under heaven… 

So perhaps the takeaway for this blog is a question, ( not a to-do list)- what time do you have?

Ps.Here is the link to my recent published article in Ayurveda Mantra https://joom.ag/5jJW Please share with your friends and family.

with warm regards,

Gedalia Genin


My mission statement is: to support the awakening and unfolding of one’s full potential and creativity.