Why Following the Ayurvedic Clock Changes Everything
I spend a good part of every day (and night) observing myself and others in an Ayurvedic light. I can’t help myself. I really can’t. It has informed and changed me that much. Here’s why following the Ayurvedic clock changes everything.
And when I pass an actual schoolyard full of children at recess, I always pause and take note of their behavior.
The Pitta-type child might be running around in the freezing cold with his/her coat wide open, no hat or gloves, often leading the games.
The Vata-type child, often frailer, is probably shivering, maybe lost in his or her thoughts. They tend to have bursts of high energy but then they crash.
Meanwhile, I might see a Kapha-type child, also cold, sitting on the sidelines if the game is too active. They like things slow and easy.
Check out “Children Have Doshas, Too”, especially if you’re a parent and this intrigues you.
But, what most interests me is observing how many of us live our lives totally out of sync with Mother Nature and our biological clock.
Enter Ayurveda and the 24-hour clock according to the influence of the doshas.
The other day, I was working with a new client and was explaining to her about this clock. I believe that it’s one of the most important teachings I can share with anyone, no matter what their health concerns are.
So, I wanted to share with all of you how Ayurveda divides the day, and why it’s important that we take advantage of the wisdom of this ancient science so aptly meaning the knowledge of life.
The Ayurvedic day is divided into six segments of four hours
Each dosha, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha have two segments of four hours throughout each day.
The 24-hour Ayurvedic Clock
- 2:00-6:00 am – Vata
- 6:00-10-00 am – Kapha
- 10:00 am-2:00 pm – Pitta
- 2:00-6:00 pm – Vata
- 6:00-10:00 pm – Kapha
- 10:00 pm-2:00 am – Pitta
Morning Vata Hours (2:00-6:00 am)
Many people wonder why they always seem to wake up in the wee hours of the morning. Often, the reason is as simple as the fact that’s it’s the Vata time of morning.
Vata rules the nervous system, and especially people with a lot of Vata in their constitution (or just a Vata imbalance in general) often wake early with heart racing and high anxiety.
The best advice I give to people with this issue is to sit up in bed and either meditate or do some slow deep breathing.
Vata is often referred to as the spiritual dosha and it’s no coincidence that the early morning hours are ripe for deep meditation, prayer, and breathwork.
In fact, it’s a good thing to wake early (providing you went to bed early!)
So, if you find yourself waking during these early morning hours, turn your frustration to your advantage. Sit up in bed, close your eyes, and do some relaxed breathwork, meditation, or prayer. I practice a mantra-based meditation and, if it’s too early to get up, my body knows and I usually end up falling back into a short but deep, delicious sleep.
As a general rule, it’s important to rise by 6:00 am. More on that when I explain Kapha time.
Because Vata is the dosha of movement (air) and the main seat of Vata is in the colon, the body uses this time to prepare for elimination. Everyone should feel the urge to have a bowel movement upon waking. If not, then your body clock is off, and you should really work on regulating it. It’s the healthiest way to start your day!
Morning Kapha Hours (6:00-10:00 am)
You might notice that if you sleep past 6:00 am, it can turn into a more lethargic type of sleep. This is because of the slow, heavy nature of Kapha dosha. Best to get up and get moving and not linger in bed (unless you’re sick or infirm).
Sleeping during Kapha morning hours can result in a dull kind of energy lasting throughout the day.
Breakfast, as a rule, should be eaten before 8:00. People with a Kapha-type constitution are often not very hungry (slow metabolism) and should honor that by eating a light breakfast. A stewed apple is often suggested as a gentle way to get your digestion going for the day.
Vata and Pitta-types are more likely to need a little more of a substantial breakfast with some protein.
Exercise is extra beneficial during Kapha morning hours because Kapha is the dosha of endurance. So, take advantage and engage in your favorite exercise activity before breakfast. At the very least, take a walk before or after breakfast.
Morning/Afternoon Pitta Hours (10:00 am – 2:00 p.m.)
When 10:00 am rolls around, this is the optimal time for work that requires our brain power. Pitta dosha is a focused kind of energy. It’s sharp. Following the slow, heavy Kapha energy, Pitta energy revs up and assists us in being able to tackle our work.
10:00 am – noon are precious writing/creating hours for me. I try not to let anything interfere at this time – i.e. telephone calls, social media, etc. Since I became aware of the Ayurvedic clock, I’ve noticed how focused and productive I can be during Pitta hours.
Pitta-types are generally very organized, intelligent, focused people. But we can all take advantage of precious Pitta hours to meet a deadline, work on a project, have a feeling of accomplishment, which we all know can feel pretty darn good!
Pitta dosha also rules our metabolism. Its elements are fire and water. We literally have a “digestive fire” (called Agni in Ayurveda) and this fire is strongest around noon.
Thus, noon – 1:00 pm is the recommended time to eat our largest meal of the day.
If you can’t resist eating something heavy or hard-to-digest, try eating it at lunch, instead of dinner. You’ll be amazed at how differently the body reacts.
Afternoon Vata Hours (2:00-6:00 pm)
Depending on your constitution, and what type of lunch you ate, afternoon Vata hours can vary from person to person. If you’ve eaten a heavy, hard-to-digest meal, chances are you’ll feel sluggish and want a nap (Kapha types are especially prone to this).
The Vata-type person might actually benefit from a short nap because they tend to have bursts of high energy that crashes, at which point they are quickly depleted.
I remember clearly years ago when I had an office job. I was so energetic in the morning and then around 3:00, it was as if someone flipped a switch and I wanted to cry, I was so exhausted. I sometimes escaped to the bathroom, where I would sit in the stall and just close my eyes for a few minutes.
And when my children were young, I would put them down for an afternoon nap and do the same. I wish I’d known about Ayurveda back in those days. It would have alleviated a lot of guilt.
As I mentioned before, Vata is known as the spiritual dosha, and afternoon Vata hours are perfect for meditation or prayer. I have found 4:00 pm to be my sweet spot for a deep meditation that clears away a lot of accumulated stress from the day. Some of my most profound meditations have happened during afternoon Vata hours.
Evening Kapha Hours (6:00-10:00 pm)
Remember that I mentioned the energy of Kapha dosha is slow and heavy? Kapha is water/earth. It can be an almost lethargic kind of energy.
Ayurveda has a saying that, when 6:00 pm rolls around, the kitchen is closed, and the digestive system has gone home for the day. A light, easily digestible meal is suggested.
Eating between 5:00-6:00 is ideal. I know this is not possible for many people. But, know that you are putting undo stress on your body by eating a heavy and/or late dinner.
What’s a heavy, lethargic type of energy good for? Making us sleepy for bedtime! If it’s at all humanly possible for you to get to bed before 10:00 (ideally 9:00/9:30), you will be doing yourself a huge favor. Why? Because Pitta time is approaching…
Evening Pitta Hours (10:00 pm – 2:00 am)
They say that the hours between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am are the most restorative in terms of sleep. Ayurveda has known this forever.
During these precious hours, the body is busy doing all kinds of repair work. Organs are busy detoxing. Your broken leg is healing. Stored fat gets burned.
This takes an awful lot of energy. If we’re awake and reading, or writing, or watching TV, or eating, this precious energy will get diverted to the brain, or digestive system, etc. You get the picture.
This is why we get our “second wind” around 10:00! We get sleepy during Kapha hours (when we should go to bed) but when Pitta time begins, we’re all hepped up. Pitta is an active energy.
This is when the artist, the writer, or the night owl, usually says to me “That’s when I get my best ideas – at night!” There is no way they’ll give it up, even when faced with grave health issues.
There’s a solution to this dilemma. Go to bed early. Get some quality, restorative, reparative sleep, and then get up during the wee early morning Vata hours. Vata, after all, is also the creative dosha, so creativity is heightened during these hours.
When I read Mary Oliver poems, I always envision her writing during these hours.
That’s the Ayurvedic clock in a nutshell. Print this out and familiarize yourself with the different segments of the day. Don’t be hard on yourself, instead, choose one of two things to work on and see if you notice a difference.
I can’t tell you how my health improved when I started living a more Ayurvedic lifestyle. Am I perfect? Omg, no! Every single day I slip up. But I always have the intention of honoring the natural rhythms of the day.
It’s afternoon Vata time now as I finish this article. It couldn’t have worked out better because my writing energy is done for the day. I’ll have a nice afternoon meditation, an early supper, relax a bit, and get to bed by 9:30. That’s my plan, at least! Netflix be damned!
P.S. I have a special offer for my newsletter subscribers this month which I’m extending to the month of February (Kapha Season is approaching!) One-hour Ayurvedic Consultation Sessions are $111.11. If you purchase a package of three, you get an extra ½ hour follow-up session for free. You can sign-up for my newsletter here.