It is almost a certainty that when you hear the word Ayurveda, it will also be paired with the word nature, rhythm, or routine. This is because Ayurveda has been around thousands of years before us and I’d venture to guess that it will remain long after us as well. It is a science that has stood the test of time of healing many inside and out.
When I think of nature, I think of how the flowers know when to bloom, the birds know when to fly south for the winter, and how the trees change with every season. It seems silly to separate ourselves from this nature. Our bodies know when to sweat, when to wake, when to sleep, when to initiate hunger, how to grow small humans, and many other wild things. This is pretty spectacular if you ask me! But with technology, artificial light, processed food, and midnight work shifts, we have strayed away from our nature and lost touch with what’s really important, you. You are!
Imagine a perfectly scheduled day in which you know how you are going to take care of your body as soon as you wake. You’re going to exercise without needing extra motivation or without overdoing it. You are going to eat well without a struggle, knowing that you will feel light and energized all day without feeling starved. You know when you are going to meditate or center yourself so that you can deal with any kind of stress. You know already that you are going to be able to face challenges at work. At the end of the day you are going to feel pleasantly tired so that when you go to turn out the lights, you are ready to lie quietly until sleep comes. All of this is possible once you align all of your body’s systems with its natural circadian rhythm.
According to Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar in his book, Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life, you can follow these guidelines for setting up a new routine to reconnect with nature and your health. Remember, all change happens slowly and in phases, this is just the first phase to a long term lifestyle change.
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PHASE 1: Balance
Phase 1 is about Balance. For at least 7-10 days, focus on reconnecting to your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Which means, waking up and getting to sleep on time and eating your largest meal at noon with a smaller meal in the evening. You will also introduce a little bit of exercise first thing in the morning. It’s also important to find time for a little bit of mindfulness. Any of these things will start you on the path of reconnecting to your body.
In Phase One, your day will look as follows:
- 6am- Get out of bed. It’s important to start the day on time.
- 6:15am- Wake up your body with 20 minutes of brisk exercise. At this point, you’re just working on getting your body used to getting up and getting moving.
- 7am- Eat a modest breakfast. Options like oatmeal or a smoothie or eggs with steamed veggies. Finish eating before 8:30 and then plan to eat nothing, not even coffee or tea until noon.
- 12pm- Eat a substantial lunch near the noon hour. Be sure to eat around the same time everyday. Set an alarm if you need a reminder, make this the largest meal of your day. Reminder: check your pulse before and after you eat.
- 12:30pm- Take a short walk after lunch or spend some time outside to get natural light. This isn’t for the sake of exercise but more for gentle movement that will aid your digestion. Sit by a window if you can’t get outside.
- 1pm- Refill your water bottle and make a cup of herbal tea. Set your intention to avoid snacks in the afternoon.
- 6:30pm- Eat a light dinner. Focus on cooked vegetables and a small portion of protein if any. Avoid rice, bread, and simple sugars. Look to consume about 500 calories for this meal. If you are still at work, eat there. If your dinner is delayed because of a commute, remember to reduce your dinner portion accordingly. The later you eat, the smaller the meal should be. Last call for food is 8pm. You need at least 2 hours after dinner to prepare for sleep.
- 8:30pm- Send out your last texts and emails for the evening and then shut off your computer and the TV. DVR your favorite shows for tomorrow if you need to. This begins your evening routine of reading, meditating, taking a bath, journaling, or whatever else you want to do. This is your time to relax and be calm.
- 10:30pm- Turn out the lights. Even if you have trouble falling asleep right away the first couple of nights, you can breathe deeply and relax as you wait for sleep.
Things to remember to do each day during this phase:
- Take your pulse several times each day. You’re not listening for any patterns, just appreciate your heartbeat and notice your body. Do this when you wake up and before you turn out the lights.
- Close your eyes and take some deep breaths when you feel stressed. Discharging stress makes it easier to resist reaching out for distractions including junk food or your phone. It calms your mind and resets the body.
- Ask your body how it feels after each meal. If it helps, make a note in your food journal. You want to strengthen your mind-body connection.
When learning new patterns and creating change, it can feel overwhelming and exhausting. Finding a loved one or coworker to start this journey with can be helpful for accountability. Scheduling an Ayurvedic Consultation can also be helpful if you are wanting more direction and support with making this new shift, I’m here to help!
Kaitlin Gelbmann LMT, E-RYT 200, AWC