The Power of TimeGedalia Genin
Everything in nature is governed by time – the tides by the moon’s phases, the seasons by the earth’s rotation. Even music and dance are to the beats of time. Ayurvedic wisdom teaches us that there are specific lifestyle rituals that keep us tuned with our time and with nature. 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.”
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 10 am are dominated by Kapha dosha, and Kapha, being predominantly earth and water elements governs the structure and cohesiveness of the body. Instead of sleeping during that part of the day, one should wake up and move your body. Rigorous exercise is particularly beneficial this time of day. It is worth making the effort to get up early, as when you sleep in the morning you may feel off all day, and your internal systems won’t run as smoothly and optimally as they could. Also one should eat a light breakfast during this period of the day.
Lunchtime in Ayurveda is ideal between 11 am and 2 pm as Pitta dominates between 10 am and 2 pm. Pitta is the transformative / metabolic fire which allows us to digest. Lunch should be the bigger meal of the day, which should be consumed around 11 am or midday. Also, during this time period, your energy is focused on digestion. It’s the best time to go through the “errand list”- things that don’t take up mental time.
Next, between 2 and 6 pm comes Vata time dominated by the elements of air and space. Vata’s best inclination is towards creative activity. For example painting, taking photos, working on a math problem, writing, composing music, or anything else that requires brain power or creativity. 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 over stimulated 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, you will reap its wonderful rewards.
From 6 to 10 pm, we turn 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. Also, one should have a light dinner preferably between 6 to 7 pm. And 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.
At 10 pm we enter the second phase of Pitta, the fire energy, which lasts until 2 am. 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. Therefore, it’s crucial to be asleep at least before 10 or 11 pm, 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.
The last phase of our 24-hour body clock is from 2 to 6 am. This is Vata time again. This early morning is best utilized for being receptive. This is by far the best time of day for meditation, contemplation, prayer, chanting or other spiritual practices. This is also the time when we get dreams because Vata dosha, which is active in the mind during this period of time, is responsible for creation of dreams. Here’s a visual of our daily clock.
With the time change in November it may be a good time to consider the daily rhythms of Ayurveda and how they correlate to YOUR best health and wellbeing.