Rise and Shine!

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During springtime, when Kapha is becoming lively in our environment, getting up early becomes more important than ever. There is reason why early risers are said to be healthy, wealthy and wise. If you haven’t made the adjustment already, spring is the time to go to bed earlier and get in the habit waking up by 6:00 or 6:30.

  1. You’ll feel more energetic: The principles of Ayurveda recommend getting up an hour before sunrise to synchronize the body cycle with the rhythm of the sun. This time is called Bhrama Muhurta in Ayurveda and is believed to be an auspicious time where significant shifts in energy levels of the body take place. By getting up before the Kapha time of the day exerts its heavy influence (6:00 AM), you’ll feel more energetic throughout the day.
  2. You’ll have time to meditate and exercise If you wake up late your morning begins in a rush to get dressed and leave the house. Key activities that can support your quality of thought and activity through out the day, like mediation and exercise, get put aside. Waking up early in the morning gives you time to meditate, practice yoga and get some exercise, all activities proven to create a foundation of well-being.
  3. You’ll feel happier: While the energetic feeling after an early morning meditation and workout itself may be enough to keep you happy throughout the day, there is increasing evidence that early risers feel positive and more confident in their work, which results in long-term happiness. A study published in the journal “Emotion” noted that those who had their daily routine in sync with the sunrise and sunset pattern experiences more happiness than late risers.
  4. You’ll be more productive: The morning Vata period is one of the most productive times of the day. Your brain has rested well and neuronal connections and pathways have been re-charged during the night. Studies show you can think faster and have more focus during the morning hours. If you follow the rule of ‘early to bed, early to rise,’ you’ll find that much of your important work will get done in the first half of the day.
  5. You’ll get better sleep: Obviously, if you wake up early in the morning and begin your daily activities at an early hour, your body will be primed to go to bed earlier at night. According to Ayurveda, it is ideal to go to bed during the Kapha time of the day. This means closing the eyes before 10:00 PM. Evening Pitta time begins at 10:00 PM. The transformative qualities of Pitta should be used to repair the body from the wear and tear of the day’s activities. If you stay up late, you’ll find that Pitta ends up used for mental stimulation and /or late night snacking. Don’t rob your body of this important period of rejuvenation.
  6. You’ll feel happier: A study published in the Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences showed that people who stayed up late were three times more likely to experience depression as compared to those who went to bed early.

Factors That Affect Our Sleep:

Regular routine: One of the most important strategies for getting a good night’s sleep is getting in sync with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day makes us feel much more refreshed than getting the same number of hours but at different times.

Exposure to Light: Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure, helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Our brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making us sleepy—and less when it’s light—making us more alert. This means that spending long days in an office, shielded from natural light, can impact our daytime wakefulness. And lights at night—energy-efficient LED lights and blue light from TV and computer screens—can tell body that it is time to wake up.

Exercise: Research shows that regular exercise leads to better sleep at night and increased alertness during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Even light exercise—such as walking for just 10 minutes a day—helps to improve sleep quality. It is good to note that exercise is not a quick fix. It can take several months of regular activity before you experience the full sleep-promoting effects.

Eating habits: It’s especially important to watch what you put in your body in the hours leading up to your bedtime. Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it. If you drink coffee or tea, try enjoying it only in the morning hours.

Eat a light evening meal: Ayurveda recommends a light evening meal. We want the transforming quality of Pitta in the evening to be used for self-repair and not for digestion. In addition, heavy, fatty foods take a lot of work to digest and may keep us up at night.

If you have long-term problems with insomnia and are unable to switch to an early morning routine, you may be suffering from deep-seated Vata and/or Pitta imbalances. Check with an Ayurveda expert experienced in pulse assessment to find out the specific imbalances that are keeping you from a good routine. They will be able to give you individualized recommendations to culture a more healthful sleep cycle. For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Making Sleep Count

According to Ayurveda, a large percentage of our health can be won or lost in how we live our day-to-day life. It is our patterns of eating, sleeping, exercise and what we do daily to rejuvenate ourselves that can determine whether we stay healthy throughout our lifetime.

Ayurveda recognizes the importance of our relationship with the universe around us: if we live in accord with the laws of nature that structure our environment, we can keep our mind/body system functioning efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.

One key element in living in tune with our environment is when we go to bed and when we get up in the morning. There is a saying, “The day begins the night before.” Only by going to be early in the evening can the next day’s activity be fully in accord with the rhythms of nature.

When we are in bed by 10 P.M. we gain the deepest level of healing and rejuvenation from our sleep. This is because during the 4 hours before 10 P.M., kapha dosha is increasing in nature. This enlivens the qualities of heaviness and dullness in our mind and body and allows us to fall asleep more quickly and to experience deeper, less interrupted sleep.

sleeping_woman-at-a-hotelAfter 10 P.M., pitta dosha starts to become enlivened. Pitta is involved in metabolic cleaning. The body needs to be inactive at this time so that the physiology can focus its intelligence and energy on metabolic cleansing and rejuvenation. When we stay up past 10 P.M., many people experience a “second wind”. Instead of being directed internally, pitta creates an increase in energy, creativity and, too often, hunger. This accounts for the infamous scourge of midnight snacking. While many busy adults feel that they are grabbing valuable “me” time in the late hours of the night, they are, in fact, robbing themselves of a valuable opportunity to heal and rejuvenate. In the long run, night owls may find themselves with deep-seated imbalances and ill health.

Ayurveda recommends that one wake up before 6 A.M. Since it is ideal not to be startled awake by alarms, the best way to spontaneously get up early—and feel rested— is to go to bed early.

The period before 6 A.M. is the time when all of nature is waking up. At this time vata dosha is most lively in the environment. Starting the day during vata time means our mind will experience more of the qualities of balanced vata throughout the day— increased energy, clarity, intelligence and alertness.

The longer we sleep past 6 A.M. the more we are asleep while kapha is dominating the environment. If we sleep in until 7:30, for example, we are lying dull and dormant for 1 and 1/2 hours of kapha time and we will wake up imbibed with those same qualities.

This simple adjustment in routine can make a huge impact on our health. If you are in need of extra “me” time, better to go to bed on time and wake up an hour earlier in the morning.

www.theraj.com

( Picture of woman sleeping. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

Taming Vata with Ayurveda

winter-290903_640As the temperature cools, many people find themselves bothered by vata disorders such as anxiety, tension, insomnia, constipation and aching joints. Vata dosha gets aggravated during cold, dry, windy weather because the nature of vata itself is dry, cold, light and active. To avoid the winter chills and to keep vata in check, try these recommendations:

1. Drink plenty of hot water. Sipping hot water frequently throughout the day will help you accomplish two things: pacify vata and dissolve ama, the sticky waste-product of improper digestion that can clog the channels of your body.

2. Favor hot drinks and meals. Opt for warm, heavy foods. Cold drinks and cold, light foods increase vata. Be sure to avoid ice-cold beverages and foods. Ice cream season is over.

sleep-13. Get more rest than usual. Because the nature of vata is active and restless, one the best ways to balance vata is to get extra sleep. With the sun rising later and setting earlier in the day, there are fewer hours of daylight. This is a signal from Nature to spend more time resting.

Remember that according to Ayurveda you gain a better quality of rest if you fall asleep before 10:00 p.m. and rise before 6:00 a.m. If you need more than eight hours of sleep, try going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in. Sleeping late in the morning can lead to blockages of the shrotas, the channels of the body through which the natural intelligence of the body flows. This can aggravate both vata and kapha and can throw off the biological rhythms of your body.

4. Exercise daily. Exercise increases circulation, improves your appetite and raises your body temperature. If it is too cold to go outside, go to the gym, use indoor equipment or exercise DVDs—or just dance around your house. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You should adjust the amount and intensity of exercise to fit your individual needs. If your level of exercise is such that you can not breath comfortably through your nose, you may be taxing your physiology and actually increasing vata.

5. Keep your head and ears covered when outside. Ears are one of the main seats of vata. Protecting your ears and head from the wind and cold will make being outside in winter a more healthful experience.

6. Do daily abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage). Abhyanga is especially soothing for vata dosha because your skin is a primary seat of vata.

7. Start increasing your portions of foods that are sweet, sour and salty, as these pacify vata dosha. Spicy, astringent and bitter foods increase vata.

8. Enjoy Panchakarma (Ayurvedic massage and detoxification therapies). Winter is a good time to schedule a week of treatment at The Raj. While the cold wind blows outside, you can stay warm and cozy, enjoying soothing, warm herbalized oil and relaxing massages. Also, undergoing Panchakarma before the holiday seasons can put in you the right frame of mind to enjoy the holidays without binge eating or straying from a healthful diet and routine.

For more information on Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa site:

www.theraj.com

 

 

( Picture of Dry plant. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

 

( Picture of a woman sleeping. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)