Routine vs. Habit
Before we start to talk about the art of cultivating a routine, we first need to establish the difference between a routine and a habit, as the two can often be confused. A habit is an action we do often in a regular and repeated way, without much thought behind it. A routine is a regular way of doing things in a particular order with intention and effort. When we start to connect the definition of routine to the teachings of Ayurveda, we see a few commonalities: Self-awareness, presence, and discipline. These three commonalities are key components to integrating Ayurveda into our daily lives and cultivating a routine.
Why is routine so important?
According to Ayurveda, a daily routine balances our doshas (especially vata!), it relieves feelings of stress, it helps us stay positive, healthy, and happy, and helps aid in digestion. When our digestion is functioning efficiently, our body is able to properly put nutrients in their place and remove what is not needed through our stool and urine. This then ensures that there is no build up Ama (toxins) in our fat cells. This means, it can actually help us lose weight. In addition, everything in nature is cyclical and has a rhythm: the seasons, the phases of the moon, birds flying south for the winter, etc. We are no different, as we are made up of the same five elements; space, air, fire, water, and earth, as the rest of the universe. Our body functions better when things are rhythmic.
Types of routine
Two ways in which Ayurveda promotes this rhythm and the cultivation of routine in our daily lives is through Dinacharya (our daily routine) and Ritucharya (our seasonal routine).
The time we wake up each morning and go to bed each night. The times of day we take our meals. When we use the toilet – this will become rhythmic when our eating does. When and where we incorporate self-care and hygiene rituals. The days and times in which we exercise. Ideally, we want to make the times and places that we do these daily activities consistent.
Adjusting the way in which we eat so that it balances the qualities of the season, as well as includes foods that are in season. Example: During the fall months, it is beneficial to eat foods like root vegetables and soups because they are warm and grounding, which is the opposite of the cool and windy days we often experience during this time of year. Adjusting the self-care and hygiene rituals we practice so that they balance the qualities of the season. Example: During the summer months, it is beneficial to take cool showers to balance the excess heat of the season. Adjusting when and how we exercise so that our movement balances the qualities of the season. Example: During the winter months, it is beneficial to engage in activities that help us cultivate heat and energy to balance the cold and heavy qualities associated with the winter months.
Angela Glaz, Ayurvedic Specialist & 500 Hour E-RYT