Aligning with the Circadian Rhythms of Ayurveda and nature greatly improves life. As we connect with the circadian rhythms of Ayurveda, we discover how to use each cycle to assist our energy in moving through the day. So what is circadian Rhythm? In Ayurveda, it is a way we align with nature and cycles throughout the day. This decreases resistance against our body’s natural cycles that eventually cause concerns such as fatigue, mood disorders, blood sugar imbalances, sleep disruptions, and other chronic ailments that manifest from irregular lifestyle habits. Also, honoring our rhythm with nature is a deep form of self-love, and self-respect and assists us in moving through life with ease.
Time is one thing we cannot buy back, it is truly invaluable. It’s not just about what we eat, products we use, workouts we do, all essentials but well-being is a cumulative effect of everything we choose to dedicate ourselves and our time to every day. And it’s effects on our innate rhythm and mind-body connection. Connecting to the cycles of the day is a lifestyle practice bound to create more ease in life so I’ve shared the Dosha cycles of the day and ways to connect with each.
“Do you notice any times during the day that are usually smooth sailing or anywhere that creates resistance? How does your schedule compare with the natural cycles of the day? Are you harnessing the energy of or swimming upstream against the rhythms of nature? ”
What is Circadian Rhythm?
Our bodies have an internal clock, a secret “clock in the brain” if you will, that regulates our sleep and wakefulness. It’s like a bossy alarm clock but inside our heads. This clock is responsible for keeping our sleep patterns in check and orchestrating our sleep cycles. But here’s the thing – it’s easily influenced by external factors, such as time zones, shift work, and even our poor sleep habits. Ever experienced the wrath of jet lag? Yeah, blame it on your disrupted circadian rhythm.
And speaking of disruptions, imagine trying to catch some ZZZs during the day while the sun is shining bright! It’s no wonder falling asleep then can be a real struggle. So, folks, let’s be kind to our body’s internal clock and strive for some sweet slumber in sync with our natural sleep and wakefulness patterns.
Let’s dive deeper into how the day cycle circadian rhythm works:
Kapha. 6 am – 10 am
Kapha. Earth and Water. Kapha cycles are heavier and slower, which creates a grogginess and resistance to awakening so opt to rise before this cycle begins. Create stimulation and movement in the body during this time to heighten the energy for the rest of your day. Eat a warm and stimulating ayurvedic breakfast to get your agni/digestive fire and metabolism energized for the day. Avoid cold breakfasts.
Pitta. 10 am – 2 pm
Fire. Transformation. Metabolism. Eat your largest meal and get the most intense workload of the day complete if possible. Make lunch your largest meal, preferably noon to 1 p.m. when the sun is highest. This is the strongest energy of the day and digestion becomes most powerful. If you opt for any cold meals such as salads, smoothies, and acai bowls, this is the time of the day to consume them since you have nature’s energy from the sun assisting you with digestion. Cold foods always take the most energy to digest.
Vata. 2 pm – 6 pm
Air and Ether. Creativity. If you tend to get restless (that is Vata energy creating movement), take a walk, get grounded in nature, do a 5-minute pranayama, make a cup of tea, whatever you do, get grounded in the intention of doing so. If you tend to fatigue, hydrate and opt for a light, energizing snack. And if you find yourself craving sweets, carbs, or caffeine, make lunch larger. Use this energy to get creative work done and if needed. Create your to-do list for the next day so your mind is clear. You get your thoughts out and you can begin winding down during the following cycle of Kapha.
As I mentioned above, our biological clock helps regulate our sleep and wakefulness over a glorious 24-hour period. But things can get wonky real quick, especially for folks dealing with sleep disorders like shift work disorder or circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
Picture this: you’re trying to catch some shut-eye during the day, battling the urge to flip the bird at the sun shining outside, all because your sleep-wake rhythm is thrown off. And hey, if your body temperature starts acting all funky, it could be a sign of advanced sleep phase disorder or delayed sleep phase disorder messing with your circadian rhythm. It’s important to be kind to our sleep-wake cycle and work with our body’s natural inclinations.
Let’s dive deeper into what the night cycle looks like:
Kapha. 6 pm – 10 pm
Earth and Water. Light dinner, relax, wind down. Keep dinners and snacks light, as digestion slows during Kapha. Ideally, digestion should be complete by the late evening, 7 pm, to assist our energy in slowing down and preparing for rest. Melatonin naturally increases during this cycle so try to avoid vigorous exercise past 7 pm as well. Turn in by 10 p.m. to maximize the slower energy of kapha and resist the second wind that can be brought on by the following Pitta cycle.
Pitta. 10 pm – 2 am
Fire. Transformation and digestion. The body is repairing, and detoxifying. the liver is metabolizing and the mind is digesting all emotions and experiences from the day. Eating heavy meals and snacks later in the evening can disrupt this cycle and our natural detoxification process.
Vata. 2 am – 6 am
Air and Ether. Rise during the late Vata cycle (5:30-6 a.m.) to harness Vata’s creative energy and use its light, energetic qualities to move into your day before the Kapha cycle begins. The early morning Vata cycle is an ethereal energy, a powerful time for meditation, prayer, and creativity. Even if just for a few minutes, opt to dedicate time daily to connect to this celestial energy of dawn and the energy of the sunrise.
How to Find Your Circadian Rhythm
So what to do if your schedule is the complete opposite, you work a night shift, the kids have evening activities, etc, etc? Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight and that is quite alright, but they start somewhere. Honoring simple practices daily is what leads to massive changes in lifestyle. Starting can be as simple as waking up 30 minutes earlier, winding down an hour earlier for rest, or taking an afternoon walk.
Or maybe it’s the more challenging aspects of reality like getting out of that non-serving relationship or job, saying no, and not over-committing your time to create more space in the day for harmony. It’s about being mindful of the natural energies we live within and that live within us. As you honor your connection with nature, you automatically create space for healing and the things you truly desire in life.