Ayurveda offers a nice range of daily routines to make the best of our lives. Some of these are known to everyone like adequate sleep or brushing the teeth. Some recommended daily routines seem quite exotic like gargling oil. Others, at first impression, seem even toxic like inhaling herbal smoke.
The recommendations of daily routines reflect our need to maintain synchronicity between the cosmic clocks and our biological body clocks. The rotational movements of the Earth around itself and around the Sun create the cosmic clocks. Our body clocks and related gene activity have developed over our time of our existence on Earth to make sure we feel comfortable in the changing environment.
Ayurveda has recommendation on times and rhythms of little rituals during our time of wake so that we can heal, grow and maintain our bodies at night. Timing of our activities like eating is sometimes more important that what we are eating. For example, night-time eating increases weight more than daytime eating, even if we ate the same food each time.
Correct daily routines maximise our energy efficiency and increase our metabolic flexibility. We are able to switch between fat and carb burning at opportunistic times and be slow or fast burners when needed. Efficiency and flexibility manifest their benefits especially when performance is at stake and they are equally valuable for the body and mind.
I want to share with you the two ayurvedic recommendations of daily rituals that have dramatically changed the quality of my life:
- Small intermittent fasting
- Rest after lunch / siesta
I cannot praise fasting enough. It is the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to manage nearly any health issue (there’s robust research on this). I have spent time and effort taking herbs and choosing food items for healing. I have taken yoga classes and other exercise regimes to increase energy, but nothing rivals small intermittent fasting.
My main health issues revolve around overwork on both physical and mental planes. Increased levels of inflammation are something I need to manage on a daily basis. Fortunately, it is very easy. Just skipping dinner guarantees that swelling and pain are gone by the morning. Most mornings I have breakfast. Then lunch around midday and something light at around five. This way I feed myself for eight hours and fast for sixteen. If I want to step up in intensity, I only have breakfast and lunch and nothing after. I have a window of only four hours of eating and 20 fasting. The results next morning are impressive. No hunger, high energy, no pain, no puffiness or swelling and a bright mind.
Apart from lowering inflammation fasting gives me loads of energy as it increases my ability to absorb nutrients. Energy increases even more when exercising on fasted body. Morning yoga after 16 or more hours of fasting is the best way for me to burn fat and increase growth hormone levels. They guarantee a solid reserve of energy without cravings and I control my blood sugar better.
The second most powerful way to maintain energy levels and mental focus is having a nap after lunch. I know this is not an option to many and I am privileged to be able to do it. There is nothing like a little siesta after food to perk up the mind for the afternoon and avoid the 4pm slump. The fact that we feel tired after eating is a physiological message, a craving, to go and lie down. This allows the blood to come to the stomach and deliver the enzymes for digestion. 10-15 minutes is already enough, and it is best done lying on the left side. Closing the eyes and allowing the food coma to take place is second to nothing in injecting energy into our system for the afternoon. You’ll avoid unhealthy cravings and create well broken-down material for better absorption, elimination and deep level nourishment.
The most important recommendation for routines in ayurveda is to be timely. Our bodies work in relation with the surrounding environment in all its dimensions, especially with the light and dark cycle. We are energetic beings and have a potential for storing and consuming high amounts of energy. Timing our activities correctly is what guarantees maximum performance.
If you fancy being on top of your game energetically and express creativity, even after lunch, start working out on your small intermittent fasting muscle and have a small post prandial snooze. If you feel some ayurvedic daily rituals are a bit bonkers these two routines certainly aren’t. Take these on and I tell you the gained benefits outweigh the lost ones from other rituals.