Many of you know that I’ve been jet setting like there’s no tomorrow over the past two months between my Bali yoga retreats and going back to America. And man, only now being back in my regular daily routines am I seeing what a huge positive effect they have on my energy levels and overall health.
Since diving head first into a 9 month Ayurvedic course over a year ago I’ve learned so much more about health and wellness — but the number one thing I’ve gained from these studies is a grasp on the importance of daily routines and the profound impact these simple daily practices have on our health, energy and happiness.
Dinacharya, the Daily Rhythms
The Ayurvedic system calls these daily health practices dinacharya, or “daily rhythms.” As a dancer I like the idea of rhythm and going through the daily routines like moving to a beat that’s both logical and expressive.
All people naturally follow a daily rhythm of one kind or another, repeating the patterns of the day or week. But, what Ayurveda teaches us (and what has changed my life) is learning how to dance our daily routines to the rhythms of nature, both around and within us.
Sadly, much of our culture dances to the modern rhythm of a frantic, consumeristic, media crazed and often erratic beat that is discordant with our own internal rhythms and those of the natural world around us.
We often wake up each morning already feeling behind. We then drink coffee to catch up, race around to get the kids to school, go to work and push ourselves to make deadlines. We consume more sugar and coffee to keep up, with no time to rest or exercise and often struggle with going to bed at night to get the sleep we so desperately need because we’re reciting the todo list of the next day.
Rather than feeling like we’re moving through life with grace and expression, we feel like we’re one step behind and always tripping up or bumping up against issues. It’s hard to be happy when we’re tripping and bumping into things, and not only that, after a while we end up with bruises or worse.
Those bruises are showing up in our culture today as the many lifestyle diseases that come from too much stress such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and many other issues that are becoming more and more common.
We get bruised and bumped because even if we want to dance to the modern erratic rhythm, our body biologically functions best in rhythm with nature.
I get it. The beat of modern culture is really loud.
It’s hard to hear our own inner rhythm or that of nature’s amidst car horns, blaring advertising, mourgages, deadlines, children and bills.
What’s more, non of us live in caves, or plan to for that matter. So, what’s to be done? How do we hear our own natural rhythms and those of nature amongst the cacophony of stressful noise?
What I’ve found, and been taught through the Yogic and Ayurvedic traditions, is that it’s all about creating small, daily routines that keep us in synch with a pace of life that make us thrive. We can take small steps that slowly integrate our modern lives with our ancient biological heritage.
We don’t have to run away from modern culture to feel healthy, but we do have to engage with it more consciously. Part of that conscious engagement is learning some of the basic rhythms of nature that man has been living by for thousands of years and observing how we’ve strayed from tham in the past 100 or so years.
The Ayurvedic tradition breaks the day into six time periods that are each dominated by different elements. All of nature responds to the elemental quality of that time of day, and so do we.
As such, we can either do things that are appropriately suited to that time of day (like letting ourselves get sleepy as the sky darkens and wind down) or not so appropriately suited (like drinking/eating something stimulating to stay up later and not letting our body rest).
The fact is, the more we do things that are out of synch with nature’s rhythms, the more stress we put on our body and various health issues start to arise.
Remember, life is a work in progress, we don’t have to change over night or run away to that cave.
We can make small continuos tweaks ever moving our life into more alignment with what makes us feel good.
I was first exposed to Ayurveda 10 years ago when I started working at an Ayurvedic Clinic and Spa and I’ve been tweaking and implementing these ideas since.
In the past few years I’ve really put my heart into my dedication to yoga, being healthy (mind body and soul) and finding out what it really means to thrive. I’ve found that I’ve made leaps and bounds with a sense of exploration, humour and community support in making these changes. And truly, it has changed my life.
Because I want others to feel that support and thrive from the benefits of simple daily practices I’ll be writing throughout this month about the daily rhythms.
I’m also offering a free workshop this Saturday called “Nature’s Rhythms Revealed.” It will be at Qi Yoga in Freshwater from 2-3. I’m really looking forward to exploring this with a community of like minded people, and sharing the love!