By Ava Wentzel, LMT, Ayurvedic Wellness Advisor
“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity.
It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this.
It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”
Hello dear reader, seeker, intuitive healer,
It feels fantastic to be starting off this new year writing to you. As we are just settling into this season of retreat and hibernation, I want to begin by extending an invitation to you to take in any new information with a sense of curiosity and levity rather than a fierce intent to recreate yourself. Contrary to what society is selling you, we are not in the season for completely dismantling and rebuilding old systems (although we can go through subtle cycles within the major cycles, if you know what I mean). We find ourselves now in midwinter. This is a time for deep reflection and consideration, not necessarily action.
Ayurveda divides the year up in three sections:
- The months influenced by Pitta Dosha are mid-late May, June, July, August, and early-mid September.
- The months influenced by Vata Dosha are mid-late September, October, November, December, and early-mid January.
- The months influenced by Kapha Dosha are mid-late January, February, March, April, and early-mid May.
We can see and feel this truth without much effort. Think about how you started to feel in November and December. My guess is you started noticing a lot of dryness (hair, skin, sinuses) and perhaps a sense of scattered or ungrounded energy and you became pulled in many directions for the holidays. You were most likely too cold if you experienced low energy, dark circles under your eyes, or easily caught what sickness was making its way around. (Keeping your kidneys warm with proper layers or a kidney warmer wrap can do wonders for your winter immunity — it’s not too late to start practicing good kidney care in January!)
And now, as we are transitioning from Vata Season into Kapha Season, we will start to experience (or notice others experience) Kapha Dosha increasing in the body and mind. Think post-nasal drip, stuffy nose, slow or low digestive fire, a sense of sleepiness or laziness, lack of motivation, congestion, and the desire to accumulate — it’s normal to want to eat more and accumulate more adipose tissue, it’s innate wisdom wanting to protect us from the cold months and help us last through the season of hibernation.
- Take a moment at the end of each day to reflect on the abundance in your life.
- Extend gratitude for everything you already have.
The above exercise can actually be a fantastic part of your Dinacharya! It’s a common practice in Ayurveda to lay in bed and, before allowing the mind to rest for sleep, work your way backwards through the day’s events. This is a simple way to take stock, to stay connected to all that you have done, and remind yourself that you are enough.
So, let’s get into the topic of the month, which is Dinacharya.
Dinacharya is the Sanskrit word we use in Ayurveda that refers to Daily Routine.
In Ayurveda, a strong (consistent and personalized) Dinacharya is the foundation of health and healing. Before we give someone yoga postures to practice, herbs to take, or meal suggestions, we first focus on creating a supportive routine with them that they can sustain. And that means every day. Yes, every day. It is Dina (daily) Charya (routine) after all! It’s been said many times in many ways: Our habits make us into who we are in the most literal sense.
The ancient wisdom teaches us the importance of establishing and deepening our connection to the Earth, the sustainer of all life including you and me. The Earth, as is any good Mother, is a Teacher. And if we look to Her with an open heart and an open mind, the wisdom she has offered to humanity for eons downloads immediately into our cells with ease. If we are compassionate towards the Self and allow our ego to cease it’s gripping momentarily (fear of death can keep us from connecting to Mother Earth, but that is another conversation for another time) we can effortlessly feel into the innate connection we have to seasons, cycles, grooves, habits, and patterns. I do believe that the Earth has sustained Herself for so long because of Her commitment to Dinacharya. The Sun and Moon have a time and place. The seasons occur in the same order year after year, cycle after cycle. The turtles hatch, the monarchs migrate, the bears hibernate, all according to Mother Earth’s Dinacharya year after year after year. Call it chance or call it Divine Planning, but it is undeniable: Dinacharya is the Mother of all foundations of life.
Dinacharyas of Holistic Lakewood
The thing I love most about Ayurveda is that it encourages each individual to be that — individual. As such, no two people are going to have the same Daily Routine. And nor should they! Every path to healing should fit the individual. So instead of telling you about the routines that Ayurveda might recommend (remember, we aren’t starting this year off by overloading our Logic-Brain, we are having FUN!) let’s let go of perfectionism and just take a look into the beautiful and humble lives of people just like you . . . your therapists at Holistic Lakewood!
Let’s take a look at the Morning Routines/Dinacharyas of our team.
Each morning, I get up early at around 6AM — both because I like to and because the cats wake me up! I feed the cats first, of course, and then hydrate myself with a cup of hot water with lemon and honey. I really would like to stretch each morning, too, so I am going to incorporate that into my mornings in 2024.
When I wake up, I stay in bed for a few minutes and mentally list things that I am grateful for. I get up and drink a glass of water. I sit for awhile and then I practice Qigong for 15 – 20 minutes.
I wake up at 4AM, use the restroom, and then drink my first glass of water with lemon juice. After that, I spend about an hour praying, singing hymns, and reading the Bible. I end my morning devotional with a gratitude prayer. Then, I take a short nap after all of my prayers to be ready to start my day!
I get up at 9:15AM and put on a podcast on low volume — I am severely noise sensitive until about 9:45AM no matter how early I wake up so I choose to wake up later to avoid that. Then, I feed the cats, make breakfast and tea/coffee/broth (depending on the day.) I then wash my face, do my skincare routine, put on my clothes and eyebrows, and head out the door to work!
My morning routine consists of checking in with what my body is feeling upon getting up and being intentional about working out in some way. I also have a glass of water before eating anything and I leave time for stretching and journaling.
My morning starts off with a crossover between my own Dinacharya and my cat’s — bite to wake up human for food. Not ideal but there’s love there! I usually wake up between 4:30-5:30AM in the warm months and between 5:30-7:30AM in the cold months. Once I am up and have fed the cats (Clancy, the biter, and Nancy his more patient little sis) I put the kettle on and head to the bathroom where I scrape my tongue, brush my teeth, and splash my eyes/face with cool water. Then, I prepare my large thermos with hot water plus a few pinches of pink salt and make a smaller cup of something to drink right away — this might be, again, simply warm water + pink salt, or fresh lemon/honey/ginger tea, or warm water + lemon/lime. At this point, I will do my Nasya (nasal oil) and then take a moment to chant and invoke blessings at my altar, calling in Source for the day. Yoga, pranayama (breath work), and meditation follow, and then abhyanga (self-massage) and shower to get ready for the day.
I meditate for ten minutes, review my schedule for the day, urge my high-school senior to move swiftly along, take a 20 minute walk if the weather permits, have a small breakfast along with herbal tea or hot chocolate, and finally I take a few deep breaths and hope for a good work day!
As you can see, everyone settles into their body and into their day in their own way that suits them best.
This is a truly Ayurvedic approach to Dinacharya!
So take a moment and ask yourself this:
- What practices support me and make me feel energized in the morning and help me get ready for the day ahead?
- What practices support me and make me feel at ease in the evening and help me transition into a restful sleep?
I gently invite you to begin this year by deepening your connection to your intuition and sharpening your senses through the practice of cultivating a supportive Dinacharya. Flourishing health might just await you on the other side . . .
If you’d like to dive into the holistic habits that Ayurveda recommends or if you simply feel like you could use some guidance and support in creating a strong Dinacharya / Daily Routine for yourself, please feel welcome to connect with me by sending me an email at email@example.com or reach out to me through social media.
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
(Om, Peace, Peace, Peace)
FOR MORE AYURVEDIC INSIGHTS, FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM @AVALEBEN