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16 Daily Rituals: Dinacharya in Ayurveda

Updated: Jan 4

Daily rituals, or dinacharya, in Ayurveda help to create a structure for your day. When these rituals are practiced in the morning they set your day up for success.

woman waking up

Vata, the dosha composed of air and ether, is so irregular that it needs structure to give it support. Vata is the dosha that goes out of balance the easiest for all of us all of the time, no matter your constitution. Therefore, even pitta and kapha individuals will benefit from having daily rituals in place.

Among other things, dinacharya in Ayurveda cares for the senses: hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell. When the senses are cared for and used properly, they support stability in the mind. When the senses are over-stimulated, they create instability in the mind.

  • To support the ears and hearing, Ayurveda recommends oiling the ears with sesame oil.

  • To support the sense of touch, abhyanga, self-massage with warm oil is advised.

  • To support the sense of sight, splashing cool waters in the eyes upon waking is a simple way to benefit the eyes.

  • To support the sense of taste, brushing the teeth with bitter and astringent herbs, scraping the tongue, and rinsing with sesame or coconut oil is indicated.

  • To support the sense of smell, oiling the nose with nasya oil, a special oil prepared with herbs should be performed daily.

Keep reading to learn how to perform these daily rituals and cleanse your senses.

Your individual constitution (prakriti), your current state of balance (vikriti), and the season may all affect the specifics of the list of dinacharya below.

You may find that this list is overwhelming. Please don't feel that you need to begin implementing them all tomorrow. Pick one or two that speak to you and start experimenting with them. See how they affect your body and mind, then in a few weeks come back to the list and add one or two more rituals.

You can find a full list of these rituals in the Ashtanga Hridayam, an ancient text of Ayurveda, in Sutrasthana, Chapter 2.

List of Dinacharya: Daily Rituals in Ayurveda

1. Rising Early

Waking up before sunrise is the most auspicious time to awaken in the morning according to Ayurveda. The sages tell us that rising early is the most effective action to maintain health and longevity.

Waking up before 6 am (or sunrise) is preferable because the time from 3 am to 6 am is a period known as Brahma Mahurta, an auspicious time for studying and obtaining knowledge. This studying and obtaining knowledge can either be through meditation and the study of the self, or through studying and obtaining knowledge through spiritual books or books of knowledge.

Western science tells us that waking before or even with the sun and getting morning sun exposure also helps to regulate your circadian rhythms which can lead to better sleep at night.

sunrise with mist

2. Evacuating Wastes

Evacuation of your bladder and bowels should happen first thing in the morning. It helps to calm the mind.

If you have difficulty evacuating the bowels first thing in the morning, you could either start your morning with a glass of warm water with lemon and honey, or you could take Triphala in the evenings before bed. Triphala is a powder of 3 dried fruits, Amalki, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki. This can be taken in pill or powder form, and it helps to tone the colon which will lead to better bowel movements over time.

Kottakkal, a company that I use for myself and with my clients, offers both Triphaladi Powder and Triphala Tablets. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the powder to warm water and drink 1 hour before bed, or take 2 tablets with warm water 1 hour before bed.

container of Triphaldi Powder by Kottakkal

Container of triphala tablet by Kottakkal

3. Drinking Water

Ayurveda says that 1-2 glasses of water should be kept in a copper vessel (room temperature or warm) and consumed first thing in the morning. Or you could drink a glass of warm water with lemon or lime and honey. Or even just plain warm water. Any of these options will help to clear out your system and get your body ready to digest the first meal of the day.

not water kettle

4. Cleansing Teeth

Brush the teeth, preferably with a natural toothpaste. Or you could make a DIY toothpaste by combining astringent, bitter, and pungent herbs such as black pepper, long pepper, camphor, turmeric, and neem in equal proportions along with a small amount of cloves and honey.

This is a traditional tooth powder from Kottakkal that you could try:

tooth powder from Kottakkal

Or you could try this Ayurvedic toothpaste from Himalaya Bontanique with neem and pomegranate.

5. Cleansing the Tongue

Use a tongue scraper made of silver, copper, or stainless steel (but not plastic since the plastic can hold toxins). While this cleans the tongue, it will also stimulate the digestive tract and improve the digestive fire.

Scrape the tongue 8 times (one for each dhatu, or tissue in the body, plus ojas) and rinse with cool water afterward. Be gentle while scraping the tongue so that you don't damage your taste buds. If there is a coating on the tongue, you won't be able to remove it all with the tongue scraper. This coating is an indication of a build-up of undigested toxins in the body (ama) and it can't all be removed with the tongue scraper.

Banyan Botanicals also offers a tongue scraper/cleaner.

6. Cleansing the Mouth

Rinse the mouth using cold or hot water, cold milk, or sesame oil.

  1. Hot water is cleansing for the teeth, mouth, gums, and tongue.

  2. Cold milk has a cooling and cleansing effect and is useful for inflammation of the stomach wall

  3. Swishing sesame oil in the mouth is both cleansing and strengthening for the tongue, gums, teeth, mouth, and voice. Oil is naturally antibacterial and good for receding gums. Use a good quality sesame oil that is organic, such as this one from Banyan Botanicals.

7. Cleansing the Nasal Passages

The nose is the gateway to the head and brain.

Netti pot

Rinse your nose with warm water and sea salt using a netti pot (available at most health food stores).

Experiment with the ratio of salt to water to find the right amount for you. Begin with 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and adjust from there. Both too much salt and too little salt can cause burning in the sinuses. Just the right amount of salt will feel soothing.

Bend forward at the waist over a sink and tilt the head slightly so that one nostril is slightly higher than the other. Pour the water into the higher nostril and let the water flow out of the lower nostril. Netti can be a little drying for some people, so either follow this with nasya oil (below) or skip this and just do nasya oil to support the nostrils.

Nasya oil

Insert 2-8 drops of oil into each nostril while reclining on your back with your head tilted back. Massage the sinuses as you sniff the oil/ghee up into your sinuses. Oiling the nasal passages traps allergens, preventing them from entering the sinuses. It lubricates the mucus membranes so that they do not become dry and irritated. And according to Ayurveda, the oiling of the nostrils helps to nourish the brain. Plain sesame or ghee is fine, or use a medicated oil or ghee. Use at mid-day for Pitta diseases and at night for Vata diseases. In the winter, use at noon, and in the summer or heat, use at night.

Kottakkal offers Anu Oil in a convenient squeezable container.

container of anu oil by Kottakkal

Or another nice option, especially in the summer, is Brahmi Ghritam (ghee). You may need to transfer this into a dropper bottle and warm it slightly before using to help it liquefy.

container of brahmi ghee

According to Ayurveda, cleansing the nasal passages maintains the clarity of the sense organs, prevents impairment of the organs of sight and smell, and safeguards against premature baldness and graying of the hair.

8. Caring for the Eyes

Cleanse the eyes by rinsing with fresh water or spritzing with pure rose water. They are our most delicate sense organs.

9. Caring for the Ears

Dip the tip of the little finger into a small amount of warm sesame oil, insert the finger into the ear, and rotate it around the aperture. The entire ear can be massaged as well. The ears are a site in the body where vata accumulates, and by oiling and massaging the ears, vata can be reduced.

10. Garshana

Once or twice a week, the body may be dry-brushed with raw silk gloves before oiling and bathing to help stimulate lymphatic flow. I always caution clients to remember to oil after using these gloves to prevent the rough, dry, and light qualities of this practice from upsetting vata dosha.

Brush from the extremities to the heart to assist the flow of the lymphatic system back to the veins near the heart. I use the gloves below on myself and in my treatments with clients.

11. Abhyanga: Self-Massage with Warm Oil

hands massaging each other

“The body of one who uses oil regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.” Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, SU 5/88-89.

Ayurveda tells us that regular oil massage will remove excess fat from your skin leaving it glossy and soft. It will strengthen your skin while protecting it from disease. It improves immunity and stimulates the lymph system to aid in the removal of wastes. Oil massage can begin to release repressed emotions especially when massaged in the opposite direction of the lay of the hair. Crystals of unresolved emotions become de-crystalized and dissolve with continued use.

It works directly on the lymphatic, circulatory, and nervous systems of the body.

Regular head massage with oil helps prevent premature hair loss or graying of hair and helps provide a sound sleep. Massaging oil into the feet helps improve eyesight, reduces cracks in the skin of the feet, and helps to strengthen the reproductive system.

Abhayanga should be performed on an empty stomach and avoided during menstruation.

Some companies that I highly recommend for beautiful, traditional Ayurvedic oils are:

12. Swedana (Sweating)

Sweating after oiling the body helps to liquefy sticky and adherent doshas that are lodged in the peripheral tissues and it opens the pores to rid the body of impurities through the sweat glands. If you have access to a steam room, this is ideal for creating a moist sweat. A light exercise that brings sweat to the armpits and center of the back is the perfect amount of sweating to help purify the body.

13. Exercise/Yoga

woman doing situps

Vata constitutions should do light, gentle forms of exercise, Pitta should do moderate exercise, and Kapha should do vigorous exercise. Ayurveda recommends exercising to 1/2 of your capacity. If too much exercise is done, Vata can become aggravated and imbalanced no matter your constitution.

14. Your Daily Shower or Bath

Bathing helps to maintain cleanliness and longevity, according to Ayurveda. A bath serves as a release for all negative energies. Warm to hot water can be used on the body, but the head should be washed with cooler water. Pitta may need lukewarm or cool baths, especially in the summer. After cleansing, anoint the body with natural essential oils. One of my favorite essential oil companies right now is Anima Mundi.

15. Eating a Wholesome Diet

  • Wholesome, organic foods are best, when possible. Abstain from foods that are genetically manipulated, chemically treated, or irradiated. Avoid eating animals and animal products that contain hormones, drugs, and pesticides.

  • Eat meals according to your body type.

  • Generally, it is best to eat 3 meals per day with the noon meal (between 11 am to 2 pm) being the largest as the digestive fire is strongest at this time of day.

  • After eating, lay on your left side for about 15 minutes to aid proper digestion, and then take a short walk outside.

  • Allow 3-4 hours between meals for proper and complete digestion.

  • Meditate in the late afternoon (before the evening meal) for 20 minutes.

  • Dinner should be a light meal, preferably between 5-7 pm, or at least 2 hours before bedtime.

16. Sleep

woman sleeping

  • “Obesity and emaciation, happiness and sorrow, strength and weakness, virility and impotence, knowledge and ignorance, life and death are all dependent on adequate and inadequate sleep.” (ChSu 21:36)

  • Proper and adequate sleep leads to the body's tissues and doshas remaining in a balanced state of health, both physically and mentally.

  • Staying awake at night leads to an increase in Vata and Pitta. Common results are lack of concentration, constipation, giddiness, weakness, hyperacidity, and burning of eyes, hands, and feet.

  • A healthy person should generally not sleep during the day, except in summer when the days are longer and generally hotter. Sleep during the day tends to increase Kapha dosha.

Daily Rituals in Ayurveda

Performing some or all of these rituals daily can have a huge impact on your body and mind.

I would love to hear your experiences with any of these daily rituals. If you have an inspirational story about how these daily rituals have improved your life, please let me and other readers know by leaving a comment in the comments section of this blog.


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This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website, or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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