The end of summer is here. If the temperature drop, the smell in the air or the falling leaves didn’t tip me off, Oktoberfest (a BIG thing in my adopted home of Munich) did. The end of summer also signals the end of travel season. In fact, I write this newsletter from my friends’ VW van on the coast of Portugal on my last summer 2017 trip.
I love travel, but have to admit that I am always happy to return home in part to return back to my daily routines. As a free-spirited person dominated by the energy of air (vata), for most of my life I loathed routines and always wanted to “go with the flow”. This meant I had no set schedule for awaking or sleeping, eating or exercise. I made up my schedule every day on the fly, as I went. While this certainly allowed me to maintain my free-spirited identity, it had other impacts on my life I didn’t like so much. The lack of routine in my eating meant I would often not eat until 3 or 4pm, and then I ate most of my calories when I had very little digestive capacity. While I have a small build, I still had weight fluctuations and not very strong digestion which mystified me at the time. Lacking a regular sleep schedule, sometimes I felt rested and on fire and other days groggy and grumpy, but I paid little attention to what conditions created either feeling state.
Introduce the Ayurveda Clock. My world turned upside down.. or right side up in this case. :) The Ayurvedic (dosha) clock is the lens through which Ayurveda sees the traditional 24-hour clock. It explains which energies or doshas are dominant during times of the day so we can align our action to the dominant energy if we want a thriving, vibrant body, a sharp, clear mind and a deep connection to spirit.
2-6 am/sunrise - Vata or “wild time”
The time from 2am to sunrise is called Brahma Muhurta – the sacred hours before the dawn. It is dominated by the Vata dosha, or the elements of air and ether. If you have woken up during these hours and enter the outside world, you can see that the energy at this time is very, very subtle. Like ether. It is “wild” because it seems to exist outside of time. We aren’t yet in doing mode. We are in being mode. At this time, our consciousness is most expansive and we can more easily ask who we are, and we want to be for that day, year or life. It is a great time for meditation, visualization, potentiality and unlimited thinking because we aren’t so identified with our body, personality, intellect or job/identity. In a sense, we don’t really know who we are yet, so we can design our day for how we want to show up in the world.
6 – 10am – Kapha mode
6-10am is governed by the kapha dosha – or the elements of earth and water – the heaviest of the elements. Because we may feel heavy (or earthy), we want to eat a light breakfast and pick ourselves up off the ground. That means, MOVE YOUR BODY.If you can, practice yoga or move for at least 20 minutes. If you have to get immediately to work, then do a few sun salutations, jumping jacks or handstands. Or do physical projects. Sitting nonstop at a desk for hours will intensify the feeling of heaviness ALL DAY if we let it, so set your alarm on your phone to remind you to move at least once an hour. Stretch your arms over head, do some twists, or take a spin or two around your office floor.
10am – 2pm – Pitta tim
Pitta, the elements of fire and air, dominates midday. We are firey during this time, so it’s a great time to do strategic planning. We can take our visions from the vata morning time and create a plan to make it happen. We also want to execute the majority of our more demanding work when we have the most fire and mental acumen. Our digestion is also the firey-est, so eat your largest, most nutrient-dense meal. It will be easiest to concentrate, focus and execute for the rest of the day, and your future waist size will thank you.
2 to 6pm – Vata returns
Afternoon to late afternoon, vata returns. Vata is air – particles moving through space. 2pm-6pm is a good time to communicate ideas through space. Finish up on emails or phone calls – tasks that require less precision and less fire.
6 to 10pm - Second Kapha cycle
Kapha comes back in the evening. The nature of earth and water is heavy - it pulls you down. Like a rainy fall day. Aligning to the downward pull of earth and water means that we choose activities which allow us to tap into heaviness and fatigue and bring our energy down. So we eat a light dinner that won’t force our digestive system to work hard and we read, bathe or take a walk. Then we can surrender into sleep during a “heavy” time and enjoy deep rest.
10pm to 2am – Pitta Part 2
If we go to bed after 10pm, we enter into pitta time, which is firey. We may feel a sudden “second wind” or surge of energy even if we felt sleepy just moments before. We may also get the munchies and want to have a snack, which isn’t so good for our digestion, sleep and waist size. Getting to bed during this time may result in more fitful sleep, or disturbing. We want to be in bed during kapha time so these are non-issues. Wake up rested, recharged and ready to create our experience for the next day.