The Ayurvedic Clock is something you may not have heard of unless you spend a lot of time in yoga studios.
BUT stick with me to learn why you should care about the Ayurvedic Clock and how a few small tweaks to your habits can have BIG health benefits.
Interestingly enough, the media is all abuzz about body clocks, circadian rhythm, and when is the perfect time to do just about anything, from eating to test taking to having sex.
You’ve probably run across some of these conversations about timing without realizing that Ayurveda had most of it figured out thousands of years ago.
The thing is, we’ve forgotten this ancient wisdom or tend not to trust it until we see scientific research validating it (and I’m a big fan of validation, by the way!).
Ayurvedic Clock = Biological Clock + Mother Nature’s Clock
The Ayurvedic Clock is essentially what modern science now calls our biological clock, or body clock, and is linked to how our genes and hormones operate.
Ayurveda prescribes optimal times for eating, sleeping and working (along with many other activities) by illustrating the link between our body’s energy and the energy of the doshas (elements) that are primary during one of six blocks of time per 24-hour cycle.
The clock is split into four-hour cycles based on the type of energy that is predominant in our bodies and in nature during each four-hour window. Every day we cycle through the three doshas—vata, kapha and pitta—twice.
The more closely we align our daily rhythms with the rhythms of nature, the more we support our well-being. When we go against the natural daily cycles of energy, we disrupt our health.
Ayurvedic Clock Time Blocks
Vata time: 2 to 6 am and pm
Kapha time: 6 to 10 am and pm
Pitta time: 10 to 2 am and pm
Ayurvedic Clock: Activities for Vata Time
Because vata dosha includes the elements of ether and air, the two time blocks with high vata dosha tend to be great times to access the ethers and spiritual connection.
In the early morning, between 2:00 and 6:00 am, is an ideal time to meditate because the veil is thin between the physical and spiritual worlds. You can connect more easily to stillness and peace when there is less activity outside you and things are quiet and etheric.
In the afternoon between 2:00 and 6:00 pm, the high vata energy makes it a great time to do creative endeavors. The qualities of air and ether that are present during this afternoon cycle of vata dosha are naturally more playful and light.
Small shifts you can make to align your habits to vata time:
- Meditate sometime between 2:00 and 6:00 am, or between 5:00 and 6:00 pm when nature slows down at dusk
- Socialize and share creative conversations between 2:00 and 6:00 pm
- Make lunch a more substantial meal if you are experiencing cravings or low blood sugar during the vata afternoon hours
Ayurvedic Clock: Activities for Kapha Time
Kapha dosha consists of earth and water, which by nature are heavy.
That means that the energy at this time of the day and evening is heavy, slower, and denser.
In the morning, between 6:00 and 10:00 am, we want to draw prana (life force and intelligence that ride on the breath) into the body to nurture and awaken not only the physical body but the other layers of the body as well via the five koshas (energetic sheaths).
During the evening kapha time, we are best suited to wind down our day and flow with the heavier energy to move us toward sleep.
Our bodies naturally have less energy at this time of day precisely because we are getting ready to go into rest and repair mode.
Small shifts you can make to align your habits to kapha time:
- Exercise in the morning or no later than 7 pm to allow your body to wind down and prepare for bed during the kapha evening cycle
- Invite the heavy, sleepy feeling that is natural in the evenings by taking an evening bath or shower and practicing warm oil massage (Abhyanga)
- Turn off your screens and reach for a relaxing book before 9:00 pm at the latest
- Go to bed before 10:00 pm
Ayurvedic Clock: Activities for Pitta Time
Pitta dosha is made of fire and water.
In the morning, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, is the time when our digestive fire is highest. Our body has the most bile to help break down food at this time, so we want to consume our largest meal of the day during this four-hour window.
In the evening, we want to be in bed by the end of kapha time, 10 pm, so that as the fire of our body’s repair system begins to ignite, we are asleep and can allow for full processing of the day to occur on an involuntary and cellular level.
Small shifts you can make to align your habits to pitta time:
- Eat your largest meal of the day during afternoon pitta time
- Eat an earlier, lighter dinner to allow the evening fire of pitta to digest primarily mental information, focus on cell repair and not be taxed with digesting heavy food
- Schedule your most physical or analytical tasks during the pitta daylight hours
While the ayurvedic clock also helps us align with other processes of the mind, body, spirit, and nature itself, these are the primary ways that the ayurvedic clock supports the 10 habits that I coach my members to implement into their daily routine in my Journey to Thrive program.
Sync with the Ayurvedic Clock to Prevent Disease
Keeping our daily habits in sync with the 24-hour circadian rhythm of our bodies is of paramount importance for our health and longevity. It’s so important in fact that 3 scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2017 for their body clock studies.
According to The New York Times, their research indicated that “the misalignment between a person’s lifestyle and the rhythm dictated by an inner timekeeper — jet lag after a transatlantic flight, for example — could affect well-being and over time could contribute to the risks for various diseases.”
This knowledge has been around for thousands of years and passed down through the sciences of yoga and Ayurveda. However, our modern lifestyle has made it easier to ignore these natural rhythms. Our cultural norms press us to push beyond what is healthy for our bodies in a quest for perceived rewards.
If you’ve read this far, I think you’d agree that we are not machines, nor should we act like them. Turning our habits on and off like a switch is likewise not a function of a machine but the complex organisms that we are as human beings.
Once we step back and see that operating like a machine could take years off of your life and make the years you do have less productive and enjoyable, you’ll start to look for ways to get back in sync with your body and nature. That’s what thriving is all about.