The Ayurveda clock has been around for thousands of years and is essentially what science refers to as our biological clock or circadian rhythm.
In a nutshell, it’s all about aligning the time at which we eat, work, rest, and sleep with Mother Nature’s clock, our genes and hormones, and Dosha energy cycles.
Thanks to the pressures of modern living, more and more of us are becoming out of sync with our Ayurvedic Clock, which has consequences for our mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
But don’t fret. Hopefully, this article will help you pick out small changes to your routine that could make a big difference in how you feel, carry and project yourself.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- What Is The Ayurveda Clock?
- What are the Ayurvedic Doshas?
- Ayurvedic Clock Cycles
- The Ideal Ayurvedic Schedule
- 3 Tips For An Ayurvedic Bedtime
Ready to find out more?
What is The Ayurveda Clock?
Most of us think of our day in 3 distinct blocks: work time, personal time, and sleep time. However, Ayurveda, a holistic system of medicine rooted in ancient India, sees this very differently.
The day has natural rhythms and the closer we follow these, the more vitalized and fulfilled we will feel. The more out of sync we become, the more our health and well-being are likely to suffer.
The Ayurveda body clock breaks the day into 6 periods. Each period consists of a 4-hour cycle based on the most dominant energy – or Dosha – in our body and in nature during that time.
What are the Ayurvedic Doshas?
The Doshas are fundamental life forces that govern our physical and mental processes, comprised of different combinations of the Ayurvedic elements: vayu (air), jala (water), teja (fire), akasha (space) and prithvi (earth).
The three Ayurvedic Doshas are Vata, Kapha and Pitta.
- Air + ether
- Primary features are cold, dry, and light
- Responsible for the nervous system
- Misalignment manifests as constipation, bloating, dry skin, arthritis, hypertension, anxiety and poor blood circulation
- The strongest Dosha in the body
- Earth + water
- Primary features are coldness, heaviness, steadiness, softness, and stability
- Misalignment manifests as asthma, diabetes, slow digestion and metabolic issues
- Fire + water
- Primary features are hot, light, penetrating, and sharp
- Responsible for digestion, metabolism and clarity of thought
- Misalignment manifests as early greying of hairs, acidity, body heat, skin rashes, and ulcers
Ayurveda Clock Cycles
In 24 hours, we cycle through the three Doshas twice.Vata time: 2-6 am and 2-6 pm
Kapha time: 6-10 am and 6 – 10 pm
Pitta time: 10-2 am and 10-2 pm
Here’s how to tune your daily schedule to the Ayurveda body clock and the rhythms of nature.
Early Morning: 2-6 am
This still, quiet period in the very early morning is governed by the Vata Dosha. During this time, the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is at its thinnest.
In order to harness this ethereal energy, it’s essential to wake up and get out of bed between 5:30 and 6:00am.
Rising with the sun and the birds will not just invigorate you, but it will also help you avoid the lethargy of Kapha, which begins after 6am.
The first cycle of Vata is also the perfect window to practice meditation, taking advantage of Vata’s mysterious qualities and its proximity to the spiritual realm.
Ideal activities for morning Vata: meditation, mindfulness, gratitude
Morning: 6-10 am
If you, like most, begin the day during this phase, there’s a high chance you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
Kapha energy is slow, dense and heavy, and therefore it can feel very tempting to succumb to this, pressing snooze on your alarm and burrowing back under the covers.
Due to Kapha’s heavy qualities, it’s difficult to rise during this period and you’ll begin your day feeling groggy and lethargic.
To seize the day by its horns, it’s key to get up before 6am, when Kapha begins to take hold.
The best way to spend this period is to engage in light exercise such as walking or gentle yoga between 6 and 8am, followed by an energising, Kapha pacifying breakfast.
Ideal activities for morning Kapha: exercise, breakfast
Midday: 10-2 pm
According to the Ayurvedic clock, the middle of the day begins at 10am and finishes at 2pm. This time is governed by the Pitta Dosha, characterised by a hot, fiery and active energy and responsible for our metabolism and digestion.
Our digestive fire, also known as our agni, is at its strongest during this time. Ayurveda therefore recommends that we eat our largest meal of the day around midday
Your agni is closely linked to the sun, meaning that when the sun is at its hottest and brightest, so is your digestive fire. Conversely, when the sun begins to set, your digestive fire also begins to die down. With this in mind, try to eat at least 75% of your food before the sun goes down.
Ideal activities for midday Pitta: largest meal of the day, completing your most physically or mentally demanding tasks
Afternoon: 2-6 pm
After 2pm, Vata re-enters the picture, bringing the mystic qualities of ether with it.
Vata has a heavy influence over your nervous system, so you might experience an energy slump or a slight sense of unease.
The best way to spend this period is to calm and ground yourself through gentle activities such as meditation, yoga, reading, practicing gratitude or drinking a Vata-balancing Ayurvedic tea.
You’re also at your most creative during this time; harness this energy by sharing ideas and engaging in deep conversations.
On the flip side, this period is the worst time to exercise as your energy levels are low and your body is at its weakest.
Although going for a lunch-break run might feel convenient, you won’t be able to work out to your full potential and also risk hindering your digestion process, leading to digestive problems later on. Try to fit your workout in before you head to the office instead.
Ideal activities for afternoon Vata: mindful activity, meditation, socializing, creativity, meaningful conversation
Evening: 6-10 pm
At 6pm, we transition from Vata to Kapha, entering that slow, dull, heavy energy again.
If you didn’t manage to fit in your daily exercise in the morning Kapha period, now is the time. No later than 7pm, though!
Your dinner meal should be much smaller and lighter than your lunch since Kapha is spiking at this time and your digestive fire is working at sub-optimal levels. Check out our Ayurvedic recipes for some healthy inspiration.
Although Kapha makes it difficult for us to rise in the morning, this same sleepy energy makes it very easy to settle down for the night. Lean into this by taking a warm shower and winding down with a mindful activity.
Night: 10-2 am
Drowsy Kapha recedes and fiery Pitta energy returns.
Since Pitta governs our digestive activity, it’s common to experience a ‘second wind’ of energy that manifests as stress or restfulness.
If you miss the drowsy period of Kapha, active Pitta energy can keep you up for the best part of the night.
According to Ayurveda, we begin the slow process of waking up at 2 a.m. If we’re up until the small hours of the morning, we miss the best opportunity for deep sleep and the benefits that this brings.
Sleep deprivation not only affects our ability to function the next day but can also amount to serious mental, physical and emotional consequences over time.
These include depression, anxiety, weakened immunity, hormone unbalance, weight gain, high blood pressure and more.
Ideal activities for midnight Pitta: deep sleep
3 Tips for an Ayurvedic Bedtime
For many people, the hardest part of aligning their daily routine to the Ayurvedic body clock is winding down before the second cycle of Pitta, which begins at 10pm.
Here are a few things you can do to make a 10pm bedtime easier:
Tempting though it is to fall asleep in front of our favorite series on our laptop, the blue light that electronic devices emit massively interferes with our sleep.
Turn off your phone, tablet, TV or laptop for at least 30 minutes (ideally 1 hour) before bed.
2. Mindful Activity
Replace watching TV or replying to emails before bed with a mindful activity that will help you wind down.
3. Ayurvedic tea for sleep
Balance any overactive adrenal glands that might be causing a stress response by drinking chamomile tea with ginger, cardamom, and ashwagandha; powerful Ayurvedic herbs with sedative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Simply add 2cm of fresh ginger, 1 tsp of cardamom and 1/4 tsp of ashwagandha powder to a cup of hot water and add a standard chamomile tea bag. Strain, and enjoy!
Dosha Quiz | Discover My Ayurvedic Body Type
Knowing your dosha can provide a window into your inner world.
Whether Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, or a combination of all three, you'll receive tailored information on your unique dosha composition at the end of the quiz.
Answer each question instinctively, try not to overthink!