Āyurveda’s main pursuit is a long, healthy life. In support of this, it suggests principles and practices that apply to almost every aspect of our life. Dinacharya (spelled dinacaryā in Sanskrit) are rituals that promote good health, both physical and mental. They support health by removing any excess build up in our bodies from the subtle processes that happen while we sleep, we can start the day in the most positive manner possible!
Many of the dinacharya are recommended to be performed during the kapha (water and earth dominant) time of day when the heavy, dense, sticky and cloudy qualities are predominant. When is the kapha time of day? Generally from sunrise to 10 or 11am, but it depends on where in the world you are located.
Dinacharya are the daily Ayurvedic rituals that maintain svasthavṛtta (healthy self sufficiency). In Sanskrit, the prefix dina means “day or daily” and “caryā” means practised or performed. So these are daily practices.
1. Wake Early
The goal is to be awake during brahma muhūrta kāla (48 to 96 minutes before sunrise). This is an auspicious time of day, good for studying, writing, mental clarity, yoga and prayer.
2. Say a Prayer
Usually worship is suggested after exercising and washing, but Dr. Lad, a well known Ayurvedic doctor in the West, recommends saying a prayer of gratitude before leaving your bed. Write your own morning prayer and see how it feels to say it upon waking.
3. Clean Your Teeth (danta dhāvana)
To counter the effects of the kapha period of the day, it’s best to clean the mouth, which is a site of kapha with astringent, pungent, and bitter toothpastes and powders. In traditional Āyurveda, a neem stick or a stick from other specified herbs is used for removing food from the teeth and making gums healthy.
4. Scrape your Tongue (jihvā nirlekhana)
Scraping your tongue from the back forwards helps to stimulate internal organs, supports the digestive process, and removes bacteria from the tongue and mouth. Be sure not to press too hard!
5. Exercise (vyāyāma)
Regular exercise, in the morning, makes the body light and improves agni (digestive fire). Exercise should not be painful: work to half your capacity during winter and spring, and only mild exercise in other seasons. This is the best strategy for building sustainable, lasting strength.
6. Bathe (snāna)
After exercising, it’s important to wash the body. Use hot water on the body and cool water on the head. And make sure not to eat until after you finish exercising and bathing!
7. Get Dressed and Smell Nice
Each day you should wear clean clothes. If you are inclined (or a person with a pitta constitution), try applying natural scents to improve your mood and self esteem. Suggested scents are amber, rose, lavender, sandalwood, jasmine, kuṣa (vetiver), or musk.
These are just a few of the dinacharya: Ayurvedic rituals for good health. There’s many more, including: nasya (oil in the nostril), abhyaṅga (self massage with oil), karṇa pūraṇa (oil in the ears). Stay tuned for a future blog post exploring oils in Ayurveda, and some of these other daily rituals!
If you would like to experience these practices with a community, take a moment and explore our Accessible Ayurveda course!